Centrists Caution Cameron Against Overreaching

As Britain’s David Cameron installed his second cabinet on Monday, he was urged by centrists not to interpret last week’s election victory as a mandate for radical change.

It is the prime minister’s unenviable task to keep his tribe happy but prevent it from behaving like a restorationist sect, writes Matthew d’Ancona in The Guardian newspaper. With only a razor-thin majority in Parliament, Cameron can’t afford to upset his more reactionary backbenchers, nor can he allow his party to lurch to the right or it will alienate voters in the next election.

The issue most likely to stir a rebellion is Europe, as it did for John Mayor, the last Conservative prime minister before Cameron came to power in 2010. He similarly commanded a small majority and party infighting contributed to a devastating defeat in 1997 when the Conservatives lost half their seats.

Cameron has already given Euroskeptics an in-out referendum on Britain’s European Union membership. But d’Ancona warns that the Tory right may not “take yes for an answer.” They could push Cameron to demand unreasonable concessions from other European countries, such as restrictions on the free movement of labor or a deep cut in Britain’s contribution to the union’s budget. If the prime minister gives in to such pressure, he would set himself up for failure in Brussels and raise the chance that British voters decide to opt out altogether.

Conservative Party leaders recognize the danger of overreach, writes the Financial Times‘s Janan Ganesh. “They know well enough that Britain has not become Texas overnight.” Read more “Centrists Caution Cameron Against Overreaching”

Why Liberals Should Rejoice in David Cameron’s Reelection

Liberals who worry that Prime Minister David Cameron’s reelection on Thursday marks the demise of an internationalist Britain in favor of “Little England” fail to appreciate just how much the Conservative Party leader has done for liberalism.

Nick Clegg, Cameron’s former deputy, was understandably bitter when he stepped down as Liberal Democrat leader on Friday. Having lost all but eight seats in Parliament, the traditional third party in British politics was replaced by the Scottish nationalists who won 56 seats.

“Years of remorseless economic and social hardship following the crash in 2008 and the grinding insecurities of globalization have led for people to reach to new certainties,” Clegg said. “The politics of identity, of nationalism, of us versus them is now on the rise.”

He could have said the same about any Western democracy. The conclusion he drew from this, however, was wrong.

Liberalism, here, as well as across Europe, is not faring well against the politics of fear.

His left-leaning brand of liberalism, no. But former Liberal Democrat voters in England didn’t switch to the United Kingdom Independence Party which represents those politics of fear. They voted for Cameron’s Conservatives instead because he advances a type of liberalism that works.

Clegg isn’t alone in underestimating Cameron’s liberalism. Read more “Why Liberals Should Rejoice in David Cameron’s Reelection”

Britain’s Cameron Stays in Power, Other Leaders Resign

David Cameron
British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013 (10 Downing Street)

British prime minister David Cameron stayed in power on Thursday, promising to government for “one nation” in his second term.

Cameron’s Conservative Party won an overall majority of 331 seats in the House of Commons on Thursday — defying polls that had predicted a hung parliament.

The Liberal Democrats, who governed in coalition with the Conservatives for the last five years, suffered what leader Nick Clegg described on Friday as a “crushing” defeat. The party fell from 56 to eight seats.

Clegg resigned as leader, saying, “It’s simply heartbreaking to see so many friends and colleagues who have served their constituents over so many years abruptly lose their seats because of forces entirely beyond their control.” Read more “Britain’s Cameron Stays in Power, Other Leaders Resign”

Cameron Promises More Power for England in Next Parliament

British prime minister David Cameron vowed on Friday that “English votes for English laws” would be in place for the first budget of a next Conservative government.

Cameron also promised an “English rate” of income tax and a veto for English lawmakers over issues that only affect their region.

The constitutional changes would follow the devolution of tax powers to Scotland, Cameron said. Read more “Cameron Promises More Power for England in Next Parliament”

Upbeat Cameron Paints Post-Austerity Britain

A day after Labour’s Ed Miliband claimed his was the party of fiscal responsibility, British prime minister David Cameron said the Conservatives were really the party of “working people.”

Unveiling the ruling party’s manifesto for the May election in Swindon in the south of England on Tuesday, Cameron promised voters to “turn the good news on our economy into a good life for you and your family.”

Growth hit 2.6 percent last year while unemployment has fallen below 6 percent. At 73.2 percent, the employment rate is at its highest since 1971. Inflation is almost zero. Food and fuel prices are falling and households’ disposable income is at a six-year high. The Conservatives can convincingly claim to leave Britain a better place after five years in power yet Labour complains the party hasn’t done enough for ordinary families who have seen few to no increases in wages. Read more “Upbeat Cameron Paints Post-Austerity Britain”

Miliband Seen Benefiting Most from Sky News Debate

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband did much to boost his credibility as a potential prime minister in interviews broadcast by Sky News Thursday night.

By contrast, David Cameron, the incumbent, seemed caught off guard by presenter Jeremy Paxman’s grilling. He was forced to admit that his party had failed to keep its promise to bring down the national debt and only conceded after being asked several times that he would not be able to live off a zero-hours contract either. Read more “Miliband Seen Benefiting Most from Sky News Debate”

Cameron Criticized for Promise Not to Seek Third Term

British prime minister David Cameron told the BBC in an interview that was broadcast on Monday he would not seek a third term if he is reelected in May. “I’ve said I’ll stand for a full second term but I think after that it will be time for new leadership,” he said.

The Conservative Party leader immediately named three potential successors: London mayor Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor George Osborne. All three have “plenty of talent, he said. “I’m surrounded by very good people.”

The reaction from the opposition Labour Party and many in the media was severe. Read more “Cameron Criticized for Promise Not to Seek Third Term”

Backing Down, Cameron Calls for Modest Migration Reforms

British prime minister David Cameron’s latest proposals to curb European labor migration are notable not so much because of what they entail but because of what he left out.

In a speech on Friday, Cameron, who leads Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, said migrants from other European Union countries should have to wait four years before they can claim welfare benefits or tax credits. That is far longer than the three-month waiting period his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats is enacting.

Cameron also said migrants should leave the United Kingdom if they haven’t found work after six months. Most, in fact, already do.

Finally, Cameron wants to bar citizens from new countries that join the European Union until their economies have “converged more closely” with existing members. That, too, is already close to reality. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania have yet to join the Schengen Area customs union. Read more “Backing Down, Cameron Calls for Modest Migration Reforms”

Germany No Longer Thinks British EU Exit Unthinkable

Germany no longer rules out a British withdrawal from the European Union, weekly Der Spiegel reported on Sunday. British prime minister David Cameron’s proposal to limit free labor migration in Europe — one of the union’s cornerstone integration policies — would be a bridge too far for his German counterpart, Angela Merkel.

Citing unnamed government sources, Der Spiegel said a “point of no return” could be reached in Anglo-German relations. Read more “Germany No Longer Thinks British EU Exit Unthinkable”

Staking Out Middle Ground, Cameron Promises Tax Relief

In a markedly patriotic speech, Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday told his Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham he would use a next five years in government to build “a Britain everyone is proud to call home.”

Drawing a contrast between his and the opposition Labour Party, which is only slightly ahead in the polls for May’s general election, Cameron argued, “You never pull one person up by pulling another down. This party doesn’t do the politics of envy and class war,” he said. “We leave that to others. We believe in aspiration and helping people get on in life.”

To that end, Cameron promised to raise the income tax threshold from £10,500 to £12,500 under a next Conservative government, benefiting around thirty million working Britons. Read more “Staking Out Middle Ground, Cameron Promises Tax Relief”