Skip to main content

Progressive Conservatism

  • Author:
  • Updated:

By Ben Cohen

David Cameron lays out his vision for Britain in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal in an in depth article in the Guardian, describing the problem, and his solution:

We should start by trying to understand what's gone wrong. Of course,

the immediate trigger of anger over expenses is the realisation of what

some MPs have been doing with taxpayers' money. But the fundamental

cause is, I believe, different. It is in fact the same thing that made

people so angry about the bankers who got rich while they were bringing

the economy to its knees. It's the reason people are angry with

councils that fine them for putting their rubbish out on the wrong day;

with the NHS managers who shut down a much-loved maternity unit; with

the local officials who are super-efficient when it comes to chasing up

your council tax bill, but super-useless when it comes to giving your

child a place in a good school. It's the reason so many innocent

citizens mistrust and even fear the police – the very people who should

be protecting them – and why so many people increasingly feel that the

state is their enemy, not their ally.

Cameron is a masterful politician, and he's really tugging at all the right chords. The Labour Party under Gordon Brown's leadership is plummeting fast with public mistrust at an all time high, leaving a void for what the Tories are now calling 'Progressive Conservatism':

Our philosophy of progressive Conservatism – the pursuit of progressive

goals through Conservative means – aims to reverse the collapse in

personal responsibility that inevitably follows this leeching of

control away from the individual and the community into the hands of

political and bureaucratic elites. We can reverse our social

atomisation by giving people the power to work collectively with their

peers to solve common problems. We can reverse our society's

infantilisation by inviting people to look to themselves, their

communities and wider society for answers, instead of just the state.

Above all, we can encourage people to behave responsibly if they know

that doing the right thing and taking responsibility will be recognised

and will make a difference.

It would be nice if we could believe Cameron, and I'm sure many people do. But the reality is that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a front man for corporate Britain disguised as a populist reformer. The Labour Party is barely any better, probably more corrupt, but slightly more inclined to aid the least well off in society. With an election surely looming, the choices for the electorate are bleak. Corrupt and inept Labour, or the silky smooth Tories who will talk their ears off while handing over power to their corporate paymasters.