"If Gordon Brown and David Cameron face each other as party leaders, it will be a curious match, for they are, at present, opposites. Mr Brown is all substance and, sadly for his polling figures, no style. Mr Cameron is, so far, all style and not enough substance. If he can acquire a little of the dour Scotsman’s intellectual seriousness, he will be a real contender at the next election. And that, for Britain, would be great: competition, as this paper occasionally points out, is a fine thing."
That is how this week’s Economist newspaper concludes a leader on how the Tory leader can transform his "politically successful" start to his leadership into something less "intellectually vacuous". Up until now Mr Cameron has been all repositioning:
"Mr Cameron has tried to change voters’ attitudes by taking swipes at carefully chosen targets. The Conservatives are seen as too close to business? Attack shops selling provocative clothes for children and call for corporate social responsibility. Self-interested? Go to the North Pole and fret about global warming, preferably in the company of a furry animal. Too authoritarian? Suggest that louts need love and understanding. Stick to warm slogans such as “trusting people” and “modern compassionate conservatism”, and hope that the electorate’s growing disillusionment with a fractious government that has been in power for nearly a decade would do the rest."
The weekly newspaper believes that the Tory leader needs to do three more things, however, to ensure his party is really ready for government:
- To make it clear that he believes in a smaller state. The
Economist believes that the state of the public finances makes tax cuts
"unrealistic" but that Mr Cameron should set out plans for how the
delivery of public sector responsibilities might be transferred to the
private and voluntary sectors.
- To "follow up on his intention of making his party, once a club of
(near-) dead white males, look as though it represents modern
Britain." It recommends more organisational changes and tighter
central control of candidate selection.
- More statesmanlike internationalism. This, for The Economist
includes ditching his pledge to leave the EPP ("the best way to
exercise influence in Europe is from within its biggest political
group, rather than from the fringes") and for a less anti-American feel
to his overall foreign policy ("The fifth anniversary of September 11th
was the wrong moment to make a speech criticising Mr Blair’s close
relationship with the White House").