Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Start in London

It was hardly a surprise that David Cameron emerged the winner when the members of the Conservative Party of the UK had to choose a new leader. Simply speaking, they wanted their own Blair, and with 67% voted for Cameron as the new leader.

His task is to make the Conservative Party a party that can once more be elected and that can govern. That was what Blair did to the Labour party after its turbulent years in the wilderness. Since then, he has won three general elections and seen off no less than four leaders of the Conservative party.

But the success of Blair has at the least to some extent been the result of the self-destruction of the Conservatives. After the Thatcher and Major years it descended into a wild Euroscepticism and tendencies towards imperial nostalgia that effectively made ikt unelectable.

A modern person in Britain simply couldn't be a Conservative during these wilderness years.

The task of restoring thre fortunes of the party is not a small one, and it will take its time. That the election of Cameron was announced the same day as Chancellor Brown had to announce that the UK economy will perferm significantly less well than he so confidently had predicted adds to the feeling of change in Britain.

David Cameron comes to the position after only four years in the House of Commons and no experience whatsoever of governmental responsibility. He is the least experienced new Conservative leader ever, and significantly less experienced than Blair was when he took over Labour.

But in reality he has been along in politics for a long time as political assistance, speechwriter and aide. He knows the political trade as well as anyone. Whether he will master the art of governance must however remain an open question.

So far he has steered clear of any more detaileed policy pronouncements. He clear wants to take the sharp edges of the imsage of the party.

In a most unwise concession to the fanatical Eurosceptics he has indicated that he wants the Conservative members of the European Parliament to leave the EPP group and line up with more marginal and in some cases outright strange groups. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that. A Conservative party that claims to be a serious governance alternative in one of the most important member countries of the European Union can't really deprive itself of influence in Europe.

We'll have to wait and see. I'm just leaving Brussels for London, although I will be back here in the evening in order to be ready to address different Balkan issues tomorrow.

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