Cameron on welfare
Posted by Matt Walker on November 12, 2009
David Cameron has spoken this week about welfare reform. As with his conference speech this year (linked below) it is no easy matter to pinpoint whether he is a traditional conservative or a Thatcherite. Perhaps we will only really have our answer after a few years of a Cameron government.
So what is Cameron’s own analysis? He claims that he supports many of the progressive aims of the Left, in other words its attempts to reduce poverty. For example, he claims to support Labour’s commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020.
However, unlike Labour Cameron opposes “big government”. For him, reducing poverty is not about just relying on the state. State welfare merely breaks down the ‘natural bonds of duty’, making people reliant on the state. What the state should actually do, he argues, is to help charities and voluntary organisations to help people. This links in with traditional conservative values on the organic society, as well as the responsibility of individuals to society.
Elsewhere (article linked below) Cameron has talked about wanting a fairer and greener society, and how this can be achieved through “the family, local associations, local organisations” rather than central government. Crucially, he wouldn’t seek radical change, and would ‘adapt’ rather than ‘overturn’ what Labour had done over the past decade. This again sounds very much like Cameron is a traditional conservative.
So why do his critics say he is a Thatcherite? This is because he advocates a reduction in the role of central government, just like Thatcher, and since the credit crunch has supported large cuts in public spending, just like Thatcher. Maybe Cameron’s talk of fairness and poverty reduction is simply a mask to hide a Thatcherite agenda which he believes the public won’t support.
What do you think?