Friday, May 16, 2008

What American Conservatives Can Learn From Their British Counterparts

David Brooks wrote a very interesting piece for The New York Times on "The Conservative Revival" on May 9.

He says that firstly the Tory revival came by "moving beyond the Thatcherite tendency to put economics first. As Oliver Letwin, one of the leading Tory strategists put it: 'Politics, once econo-centric, must now become socio-centric.' David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, makes it clear that his primary focus is sociological. Last year he declared: 'The great challenge of the 1970s and 1980s was economic revival. The great challenge in this decade and the next is social revival.' In another speech, he argued: 'We used to stand for the individual. We still do. But individual freedoms count for little if society is disintegrating. Now we stand for the family, for the neighborhood — in a word, for society.'"

And further, "They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.

"As such, the Conservative Party has spent a lot of time thinking about how government should connect with citizens. Basically, everything should be smaller, decentralized and interactive. They want a greater variety of schools, with local and parental control. They want to reverse the trend toward big central hospitals. Health care, Cameron says, is as much about regular long-term care as major surgery, and patients should have the power to construct relationships with caretakers, pharmacists and local facilities."

1 comment:

AustenFan said...

That's interesting. A big difference between the American and British right is that the British Conservative party has traditionally been much more communitarian in outlook. Americans in general and the US Republican party in particular are much more individualistic.

We've yet to see whether Cameron's strategy works in a big way (i.e. whether the Conservatives win the next election), but I'm doubtful that his society-oriented approach is directly translatable.