26 March 2007

Cameron the weathervane

Tonight, Peter Hitchens presented a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Cameron's rise to the top in the Conservative party and although I am always happy to bring down any politician, I find it odd the way in which Hitchens attacks Cameron. One of his main points was that Cameron has forgone principles in favour of a populist media driven bid for power. What surprises me is that Hitchens is surprised. Cameron is doing exactly the right thing to progress a career in politics; he is directing his party in the manner that will gain most support, principles are irrelevant.

Hitchens is disappointed that the Conservatives have abandoned principles for a naked grab for power, but this simply proves that in a democracy the kind of vague feel-good jargon that Cameron peddles is exactly the stance that wins elections. It is precisely those who do hold a set of logically consistent principles who fail to achieve power in a democratic system. This is because most people are not driven to vote by logically consistent principles, but by emotions.

This is what is meant by the 'centre ground', it is not really the centre of anything, more accurately it is the absence of any underlying philosophy. If it does have a guiding principle it is expediency. This is what all democratic systems become, an inconsistent assemblage of policies designed to appeal to the current emotional condition of the majority of the populace. Assuming the polls are accurate, in a very real sense we do still live in a democratic country, it is just that democracy is not what some people thought it was, i.e. about principles.

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