Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The British Conservative Party: The Party of the People?

 David Cameron promises to empower Britons

Typically, nearly a week is a long time to wait for a political leader to set the tone for their party's election campaign.

Five days into the 2010 British General election, David Cameron has done just that.

The Tories' election maifesto is entitled "An Invitation to Join the Government of Britain". It sets a populist tone for the Conservative Party's campaign, one reminiscent of that offered by the late former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

"Real change comes not from government alone," Cameron declared. "Real change comes when the people are inspired and mobilised, when millions of us are fired up to play a part in the nation's future."

Cameron suggsted that government is actually powerless without the support of the citizenry. Therefore, the British people must be invovled in government as much as possible.

"Yes this is ambitious," he admitted. "Yes it is optimistic. But in the end all the acts of Parliament, all the new measures, all the new policy initiatives, are just politicians' words without you and your involvement."

"So my invitation today is this: join us, to form a new kind of government for Britain," Cameron said.

Saying this is one thing -- and certainly a great number of Britons will appreciate this message. However, delivering on this promise is another thing altogether.

Trudeau alienated a great number of his supporters when he failed to deliver on his promise of "parliamentary democracy". In the end, it became apparent that "parliamentary democracy" merely reflected privileged access of Liberal Party members to information about the decisions that Trudeau and his cabinet made.

The breaking of that promise -- closely tied to his promises of a "Just society" -- eventually led to a public perception of Trudeau as a disingenuous and self-interested politician.

Britons will have to wait and see if David Cameron actually delivers on this promise. He certainly couldn't do any worse than Pierre Trudeau.

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