Friday, November 25, 2005

Differing approaches of UK Conservative Party leadership candidates

One of the most interesting differences between David Cameron and David Davis, the two remaining candidates for leader of the Conservatives, is the variance in their approach to opposition to the Labour government.

David Cameron's approach is, in his own words:

"If the Labour Party puts forward proposals which we agree with, then we should support them and not just oppose for opposition's sake. That is the sort of Punch and Judy politics that people in Britain are tired of and which we must end."

On the other hand, David Davis' approach is to defeat the government whenever possible and on whatever grounds:

"We have defeated this government once in eight years, that was under my leadership last week. We will have to do that again and again. This government will have to be taken apart, it will not fall apart."

Obviously, Mr Davis' approach is the more politically orthodox one for parties in opposition. But personally I favour the approach of Mr Cameron because it is rooted in principle-based politics rather than victory-based politics.

Don't get me wrong, I realise that victory is essential in politics. But how that victory is achieved is also important. No two mainstream political parties are likely to have ideologies that are in opposition to each other in every detail. Sometimes they will agree, as with the Labour education reforms that the Conservatives supported.

And voters are tired of "Punch and Judy" politics. It's this lack of a principled approach that has lead to ever higher public cynicism about politicians and the very nature of democratic politics.

It may be that the "take them down whatever" tactic gains short-term victories, but the principled approach builds long-term credibility and thus a far more solid foundation for victory generation.

This is one of the reasons why I'm hoping for a David Cameron leadership of the UK Conservatives.


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