What is David Cameron's Conservatism? (overview)
When Cameron became leader of the Conservatives in 2005, the party had lost three general elections in a row. He wanted to move the party away from the Thatcherite image that had been dominant during the premierships of Thatcher and Major and was now felt to have become an electoral liability.
Cameron used phrases, which could be seen as similar to One Nation Conservatism such as ‘Progressive Conservatism’, ‘Liberal Conservatism’ and ‘Modern Compassionate Conservatism’ to explain his new approach. He took up issues that has not been associated with the Conservatives such as the environment, gay rights and families in poverty and did not oppose the Labour Government’s public expenditure plans. This was not popular with right-wing Conservatives who had become more numerous during the 1990s, because Conservative Associations had also moved to right and selected candidates to match their views. When Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 two factors meant that his new approach had to be modified in any case:-
- The Conservatives, having failed to win a majority, decided to go into coalition with the Liberal Democrats. They therefore had to accept some Liberal Democrat policies, though this did make Cameron seem more centrist than right-wing in the eyes of many voters.
- The economic crisis had to be dealt with and both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats decided that this meant cutting public expenditure.