Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Charges of chameleonism hit Cameron

Labour's party political broadcast will be screened tonight. You can see it here if you wish. There is also a new site called Dave the Chameleon. This will apparently be chronicling Cameron's changes in policy direction. Quite similarly to myself but I might just be prepared to acknowledge and maybe even support any smart moves he makes.

I'm not sure I agree with this line of attack. It is quite insulting to voters. Council elections rarely motivate the masses and those who care enough to be involved will already know Cameron has been less than forthcoming about his plans for the future.

Cameron himself has intensified his hunt for the green vote. A makeover of conservatives.com now highlights enivronmental acheivements of tory councils. It also sees the emergence of the phrase 'vote blue, go green'. A sentiment long understood by labour voters one would imagine.

Cameron's launch speech includes an optimistic relial on statistics. His claim the Conservative councils charge less council tax is based only on Band D properties. Whilst Conservative areas may be nicer places to live with cleaner streets, more composting and less alcohol related crime one does not have to stretch the correlation between income and voter preference to see why.

Despite this the speech makes some important points about how councils can tackle green issues and the initiative shown by some Conservative councils should be applauded. If you see any reason why not then feel free to let me know!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A trip he can't afjord?

In his eagerness to convince us of his green credentials Cameron is heading to Norway to see the effects of global warming on a glacier. This coming just weeks before his first electoral test at the local council elections. The reasoning behind the trip is obvious. A picture of Cameron earnestly contemplating the future of our planet is worth several soundbites. The floating voter who has time only to glance at the newspaper headlines will add that image to the Cameron profile.

Alongside wanting to project the image of a changed Conservative party, Cameron's early focus on the environment may hide a more shrewd electoral tactic. The Green party have been increasingly strong in local elections and are fielding a record number of candidates this time around. As Cameron will be keenly it won't just be psephologists picking through the aftermath of May4th. Whilst Green voters may not seem like natural Conservative prey there is concern amongst the greens that the Cameron PR might squeeze their share of the vote.

They have rightly highlighted the lack of any real policies for Cameron to lay the foundations of his greener Britain. Given that the environment does not even feature on the list of key challenges at Conservatives.com this adds weight to the idea that the big green focus might just melt into hot air after the local elections.

I do not just base this forecast on scepticism and mistrust. Radio 4's Hugh Levinson produced a great edition of Analysis which highlights the long term incompatibility of seriously green policies with free market economics. As has long been the case, the market cannot solve the planets problems alone.

Whilst we are touching on the subject of Cameron's economics have a gander at this piece by Gabriel Glickman of the Neocon Henry Jackson Society. It suggests beneath the surface of Camerons shadowy cabinet lies a whiff of NeoConservatism. I'm inclined to think and hope not. Rest assured however that Cameron watch will have its nose to the ground on that one!

As an aside I have linked a speech which Cameron made to the Foreign Policy Centre. For any other Cameron watchers this outlines his thinking of foreign policy and is an insightful read, containing the occasional chunky paragraph of substance. I usually flirt with foreign policy on my other blog The Critical Aye but the ensuing mess with Iran probably means that Cameron will soon be drawn into the argument, and of course, wherever he goes we shall follow...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Turn and face the change....

If this post could have a soundtrack it would be David Bowies 'Changes'. Change being the word that Cameron used a not insignificant 24 times in Manchester today.

The Conservative spring conference being held oop north was a fact on which Mr Cameron seized. He declared his cabinet awash with ' good, gritty, northern common sense'. This before proceeding to procur messrs Davis and Hague as guardians of this intuitive gem.

You can read the full speech here. Not that it actaully contains much. The longest paragraph consisting of two sentences. The rest rhetoric laden stuff about change, challenge and Britain's future. It's all painstakingly Blair. I'm sure thats the last thing we want.

There were one or two inklings of policy in the speech. Pensioners will have been pleased to hear Mr Cameron focusing on the plight of carers. The ears of teachers will have pricked up at talk of empowerment. Working families will have nodded in agreement at the difficulties of arranging and affording childcare. Also Mr Cameron hit a nerve with quite close to home for myself, talking about the worry of rising house prices for first time buyers.

However the mentions of policy did not sound very new or very changed. Infact whilst Cameron chastised Labour for jumping on his campaigns I feel it would be only far to point out the following. Shared home ownership, devolution, raising the retirement age, education reform, childcare credits are all Labour government initiatives. If Cameron wishes to proceed with those then this will not represent too much of a change.

So still we see no real and different policies from Cameron'd Conservatives. He echoes the Labour policy of the noughties with the media strategies of the 90's. Spot the second politician 'in the driving seat'. Many people feel frustrated that Blair has not delivered enough change from the Tory years. Not satisfied by steady economic growth, low unemployment, a minimum wage they want more. With Cameron it seems they will get more, of the same.

The only real change might be a right wing hue to government policy compared to todays arguably left wing one.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

He doesn't like fruitcake....

So, here at Cameron watch we have our first incident into which to probe.

During an interview on a London Radio show, Cameron called UKIP ' a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly'.

There are two reasons for this move. Firstly, UKIP are often perceived in public as disaffected, more rabidly right wing tories. By distancing himself from them Cameron will curry favour with the median voter. Secondly, he is capitalising on uncertainty within UKIP's membership. UKIP members themselves have been uneasy with some of UKIP's press releases. Their return to the tory fold before upcoming council elections would be a boon for Cameron.

I should point out that Cameron was not acting unprovoked. UKIP have attempted to access the names of the hidden tory donors using the freedom of information act. This no doubt riled Cameron who will not be easily swayed into revealing the names of his generous supporters.

All in all a good move by DC.