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Cameron, more ideological than he appears

2 October 2010

12:31 PM

2 October 2010

12:31 PM

The Tory conference in Birmingham is the last big political event before the cuts come. After the 20th, every time a senior Tory appears in public for the next few years they will be about why this or that is being cut. As the row over defence shows, these questions will come from right across the spectrum.

For this reason, Simon Schama’s interview with Cameron in today’s FT is probably one of the last that will start with the assumption that Cameron is genial, non-ideological fellow. Once the cuts are happening, it will be harder to cast Cameron as a consensual figure. His edges will appear harder, more defined. 


But when Schama asks Cameron what he wants his legacy to be we get a reminder of how non-ideological Cameron is. The PM gives the rather saccharine reply that he wants the country to be a “better place for children to go to school in, to grow up in.” It is the kind of political statement that no one could disagree with.

Yet, revealingly, Cameron’s route to producing those better schools is distinctly ideological. It is based around the idea of a supply-side revolution in education and a firm belief that choice and competition are what will drive up standards.

This is the paradox of Cameron. A Prime Minister who is so determined to present himself as a non-ideological figure, who even appears disdainful of it is actually leading a highly ideological government.

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Show comments
  • terence patrick hewett

    Tories don’t do ideology.

  • Holly ……

    I guess what we have to ask ourselves is,
    Do we want Cameron’s ‘ideals’ or Labour’s?
    Spend according to the income,borrow less or sod everything and spend & borrow like there’s no pay back and let the future generations worry about the fall out?

  • Tiberius

    Cameron has always been ideological. It’s just that some people don’t listen or understand what he says. Just replay his 2005 conference speech, and you’ll hear that it’s all there.

  • normanc

    Spending isn’t being cut. Taxes aren’t being cut, they’re increasing. If David Cameron can be classed as any ideological bent it would be statist, based on his record thus far.

    What is happening is that the rate of increase is going to slow (considering how fast Labour were bankrupting us it could hardly go on increasing at such a breakneck pace) apart from a few areas – debt interest, overseas aid, NHS – and less is going to be borrowed (a good thing) and more raised through taxation (a bad thing).

    The big issue seems to be the deficit. I believe this is a red herring. The real killer of our economy is the unsustainable levels of taxation Labour introduced. That the Conservatives are increasing these levels beggars believe.

    I don’t give a fig if the budget is balanced if the government is stealing over half my income to balance it.

  • Anna

    Why is “ideological” such a dirty word? You have a set of ideals, you try to live by them. People may agree or disagree, oppose or support, but wholeheartedly believing in something is a whole heap better than the current moral relativity.

  • Holly ……

    The PM gives the rather ‘ODD’ reply that he wants the country to be a “better place for children to go to school in,to grow up in”.
    Why the heck would anyone want that?
    I went to school in an era where the teachers would comfort you if upset,seperate
    you if you where fighting,(good for the kid getting hammered and those not involved KNEW a teacher would come & save him/her)and we knew exactly where we stood in the pecking order.
    Parents -Adults -children.
    There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with that,
    we’ve done it that way for generations,long
    before ‘New Labour came along and trashed all our traditions,spirit and values.
    We had a decent education from properly qualified teachers,something Labour has denied to millions of children.
    I see nothing wrong with wanting to get back
    what we used to value.Our children.
    To those who do,I ask you,”WHY”?

  • Bloody Bill Brock

    Of course when we consider how many people are only interested in x factor and strictly come dancing, it is hardly surprising that politicians make such crap comments. Anything with any real meaning would be “boring and to complicated”.

  • Chains

    Mr Forsyth, your recent posts have been excellent.

  • In2minds

    The PM gives the rather saccharine reply that he wants the country to be a “better place for children to go to school in, to grow up in.”

    It is the kind of remark Blair would have made!

  • lescam

    “The PM gives the rather saccharine reply”

    No surprises there. Saccharine Man wants to be all things to all men. He will learn in the fullness of time, that this is impossible. Either (a) the right will admire him, the centre tolerate him, and the left hate him, or (b) the entire electorate will be indifferent to him. The more insipid and saccharine his offerings, the more (b) will happen.

  • Ian E

    Ideological? Yes – he believes in the EU, anti-democracy, (cast-iron) lying to his followers, the AGW-scam – oh, and, of course, the advancement of Cameron. The only differece between him and Red Ed is that Red Ed believes in the advancement of Red Ed!

  • Jez