The success of the government’s reforms will determine the fate of progressive conservatismby Philip Collins / April 23, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
David Cameron and Nick Clegg are still travelling in the same direction. But beyond cutting the deficit, does this coalition have a purpose?
In a phrase that might haunt him, David Cameron once said that “it doesn’t matter where you come from. It’s where you are going that counts.” But, two years after the heady day in the Downing Street rose garden which announced an experiment in coalition government, where is he going? There is no shortage of activity in Whitehall and yet it all somehow adds up to less than the sum of its parts. It is not obvious whether, beyond reducing the deficit, this government really has a mission at all.
Another way of posing the same puzzle is to inquire into the character of the prime minister himself. Is the real David Cameron the radical who had his 2006 party conference audience applauding gay marriage? Or did Cameron find his authentic voice in his 2008 speech when he offered a golf-club bore’s account of a health-and-safety state? This lack of definition is, in part, deliberate.