James Wood on the Men Who Would Be Prime Minister
France has just elected itself the most philo-American president since… well, since Lafayette, who never was president. And in 2009, whichever way the wind blows, Britain will find itself led by a man asking the question on every beer-warmed tongue: … Read More
France has just elected itself the most philo-American president since… well, since Lafayette, who never was president. And in 2009, whichever way the wind blows, Britain will find itself led by a man asking the question on every beer-warmed tongue: What bloody special relationship? James Wood:
But what would a Cameron government look like? It looks as if, like Brown's, it would retain the pound and give priority to public services. And, like Brown, Cameron speaks an essentially Thatcherite managerial language about making these public services more efficient and consumer-friendly. In a recent foreign policy speech, Cameron laid out his stall as what he calls a "liberal conservative." He would be less pro-American than Blair. (But so would Brown.) At least in tone, Cameron sounds more obviously conservative than Brown. He proposes three principles: "First, a realistic appreciation of the scale of the threat the world faces from terrorism. Second, a conviction that preemptive military action is not only an appropriate, but a necessary component of tackling the terrorist threat in the short term. And, third, a belief that, in the medium and long term, the promotion of freedom and democracy–including through regime change–is the best guarantee of our security." This certainly sounds more bullish and more traditionally Conservative than the old Labour line on foreign policy–a party once committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament. But then Cameron goes on to talk about building "moral authority" and "humility," virtues he thinks Blair has lacked, and suddenly he sounds pretty much how one imagines Brown will sound. And Cameron knows perfectly well that talk about preemptive action is just talk: No British prime minister is going to support the Americans in preemptive action for a very long time.
Blair has died, long live Blair! For whatever the prime minister does in the next year, it seems perfectly possible that Brown will lose to Cameron in 2009, and that the country will be led for several years, perhaps much longer, by Blair's natural heir, rather than the one unnaturally begot all those years ago at Granita.