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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 December 2005

Tories elect 'Blair-lite' leader

NEW LABOUR has been stealing Tory policies for well over a decade but for the last few months the Tories have been cloning copies of Tony Blair to choose yet another new leader.

Jane James

Even so, to elect a leader of the Tory Party who is untested, recently unknown and relatively new to the House of Commons is a sign of desperation for a party that will have been out of power for 17 years if they lose the next election.

While many Tory members may have preferred David Davis, his co-runner in the campaign, they voted for David Cameron as the candidate more likely to appeal to the electorate in order to stand a chance of their party winning an election.

Most people would be hard pushed to think what any of his policies are. His campaign speeches criticised many of the Labour government's failings while proposing the same policies.

His speech at Tory Party conference said that "one fifth of children leave primary school unable to write properly" and "there are far fewer children from state schools going to our best universities. And it's getting worse". Yet his manifesto calls for the socially divisive policies of increased autonomy for schools and promised to "banish the 'progressive' theories" in education.

His programme on health is "Real Foundation hospitals and the right for any provider (read big business) to supply health care." The tax and benefit system, says Cameron, should reward families and the married while the voluntary sector should be used to solve problems in the community.

He is portrayed as a 'normal' family man which is far from the truth. He recalls his outdoor pursuits in childhood including walking and 'shooting with an airgun'. Educated at Eton and Oxford he worked for the Tory Party, then got a job as Head of Corporate Affairs for Carlton TV. His house in London is worth 1.2 million.

Tory 'moderniser'

CAMERON SAYS that he wants to lead a "modern compassionate Conservative Party" and that the party needs "an intellectual revolution on a scale not seen since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph."

The Tory Party has lost the last three general elections and its poll ratings have not shifted from 33% despite all the media coverage on the leadership election. Cameron promises to modernise the party and win votes from the wider electorate.

Claiming that he cares about families struggling to provide for their children, poor housing, and the state of education shows that Cameron supporters recognise that they have to appear to be addressing these concerns if they are to persuade the wider electorate to vote for a Tory party still haunted by the Thatcher years.

But Cameron will have to tread carefully between modernising the party and upsetting the dinosaurs in the party and those core Tory voters who support right-wing, reactionary ideas on Europe and asylum.

He has already made it clear that he wants the party to pull out of the right-of-centre coalition in the European Parliament because it accepts an 'ever closer union'. If Cameron's victory strengthens the party's modernising wing, the possibility of a right-wing reactionary split from the party could grow.

Some of the new young modernisers around Cameron even have social links with their New Labour counterparts and Cameron has already said he'll vote with Blair against Labour backbenchers on the proposals to attack education.

Even if there is only minimal differences that people can spot between Tories and New Labour, as Blair's unpopularity grows and Brown champions ever more neo-liberal policies the next election could be a closer contest.

Labour, the Tories and the LibDems, though, are capitalist parties putting the interests of big business before those of working-class people despite their slick speeches. What is missing is a party representing the interests of working-class people which could offer a real alternative.

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In The Socialist 8 December 2005:

Save our NHS!

Strike back at Labour's attacks

Is there a pensions crisis?

Sign up to the campaign

Brown's low growth, low wage budget

Domestic violence: Change in sentencing guidelines a step forward

George Best

Tories elect 'Blair-lite' leader

Now working class and poor must build real socialism

Brazil: Growing crisis over Lula government's corruption scandal

Solidarity with Irish Ferries workers

Victory for Andy Beadle as he wins his job back

Sixth week of caretakers' strike

PCS Left Unity conference backs union leadership on pensions


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