A modern lesson in ‘old school’ leadership: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

The British Prime Minister deserves more credit than electoral success

Sean Jacobs

Until the recent UK election it had become common, even among staunch conservatives, to write off the Tory leader David Cameron. The sum of accusations Cameron faced, from disfiguring conservative principles to peddling an overly cosmetic appearance, primed the Tories to predictable electoral defeat. No British party, the experts said, should fantasize of an outright majority. And certainly not the Conservatives.

While many were surprised with Cameron’s win the applause has, understandably, shifted rapidly to pressing issues of Greek debt and offshore terror attacks against British nationals. But Cameron’s triumph, especially in the context of a modern Western democracy, is remarkable.

A growing lack of interest in politics, alongside a fading sense of national identity, isn’t exactly the arena where extolling the principles of conservatism receive great traction. The modern Western democracy, with an addiction to debt-financing and government-led solutions, also presents obstacles for center-right leaders seeking less government and greater individual responsibility.

Attributing electoral success, too, isn’t always easy. In office, for example, larger elements present beyond the leader’s direct control – the fluctuation of capital markets, gaffes from candidates and, especially in Europe, Greek profligacy and German benevolence. Many have also argued that procuring the help of Australian pollster Linton Crosby enabled Cameron to simply fall over the line – manipulating electoral success rather than earning it.

What we can touch on with some certainty, however, is Cameron’s career performance, his conservative principles and, perhaps most importantly, how he has communicated these principles over the past few years.

Read the rest of this entry »