David Cameron has made a surprise visit to Africa and has issued an enthusiastic statement after meeting Nelson Mandela:

"Nelson Mandela is the most remarkable statesman of our age, and I found his insights into the challenges facing South Afric, the continent of Africa and the wider world hugely valuable… What struck me most were his personal qualities – his warmth, his wisdom, his sense of humour and his optimism…  Engaging in the challenges facing Africa is a key part of modern Conservatism.  I think it’s vital to learn first-hand from the people and organisations working on the ground."

BBC Online carries a report of the Mandela-Cameron meeting.

Editor’s note:
"David Cameron’s approach to Africa has been a welcome contrast to his approach to the environment.  In both cases the Tory leader is rightly attempting to broaden the appeal of the Conservative Party by emphasising issues that have been neglected by his predecessors.  In his approach to the environment he has broken ranks with other international conservative leaders and embraced the failed environmentalism of Kyoto.  Fortunately, in his approach to Africa and global poverty the Conservative leader has largely recommended authentic conservative solutions.  Recently, for example, he proposed aid vouchers as a more effective way of targeting development assistance and his development spokesman, Andrew Mitchell (pictured), has  recommended a free trade zone for Africa.  One of David Cameron’s best speeches during his leadership bid was on global poverty last November.  He emphasised the importance of property rights, attacked Christian Aid’s disdain for capitalism and called for a focus on ‘killer diseases’.  The appointment of Peter Lilley as head of the global poverty policy group was a further reassurance for authentic conservatives.

As David Cameron continues to ‘modernise’ the Conservative Party, ConservativeHome will always pose two tests:

  1. As we drive our tanks on to our opponents’ turf – as David Cameron has been doing on the environment and on global and domestic poverty – are we fighting with distinctively conservative weapons or are we adopting the failed methods of the left?  When David Cameron spoke to the Centre for Social Justice about UK poverty in January he gave strong indications that his approach to poverty-fighting would be authentically conservative with an emphasis on the voluntary sector, welfare reform and strengthening of the family.
  2. As we occupy new territory are we dangerously abandoning existing strongholds or are we broadening the party’s appeal?  With David Cameron’s renewed emphasis on homeland security and a more robust position on immigration from new EU member states, there have recently been welcome signs of a movement towards ConservativeHome’s ‘politics of and’.

PS Let us hope that while in Africa Mr Cameron makes a significant statement on Darfur.  The Tory leader made much of his commitment to this deeply troubled part of the world during his leadership bid but has been strangely silent on the situation in Sudan ever since."

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