Wednesday, January 06, 2010

David Cameron Jump-Starts 2010 Election Campaign

Cameron releases "draft manifesto"

Fortunately for British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, politics doesn't disqualify contestants for leaving the blocks early.

With Prime Minister Gordon Brown's planned election date still a secret known only to himself and a few insiders, Cameron clearly jumped the election gun recently, when he released the first chapter of his party's election manifesto.

Hailing the document as an "open document", open to the influences of public opinion.

The first chapter addresses the fiscal state of Britain, pledging to conquer Britain's debt without making any cuts to the National Health Service -- a feat that he insists the Labour Party cannot match.

“There is only one way out of this mess and that is through massive change," Cameron insisted. "The most urgent task is to bring the deficit down.”

He insisted that his party would return greater power over their lives to the British people. “We need to give people real power and control over their lives so we can have a political system to be proud of.”

Cameron clearly intends to run an election campaign deeply infused with a healthy (or perhaps not-so-healthy, depending upon one's political tastes) of populism. His "open manifesto" is one of the most brilliant -- but also most risky -- populist ventures in recent memory.

Some may recall Howard Dean's innovative campaign for the Democratic nomination for the 2004 Presidential election. Running a campaign with little money and few volunteers, Dean used the internet to launch an "open source" campaign, in which supporters were empowered to organize their own campaign events, and even produce their own campaign material.

The British Tories' Open Manifesto takes open source politics one step further. It allows British citizens to use the internet to help write the policy of a contending political party -- even if indirectly.

David Cameron's Open Manifesto has launched a brave new world for populist politics. Whether it yields the kind of results Cameron and the Tories would like is something that will have to wait for Gordon Brown's election call.

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