On National Review Online yesterday I wrote:
It's a theme taken up by The Times's leader-writers today. They argue that the G20 is being dominated by the Left. The Centre Right, they say, lacks an authoritative statesman today - at a time when world leaders are presiding over a significant extension of state power:
- "[John] McCain is a politician of yesterday, whose acknowledged lack of economic expertise hindered his campaign."
- "[Sarkozy] remains a distinctively national and even Gaullist figure. His conservatism is expressed in an aversion to the disruptions caused by market forces. He demands stringent - which is not the same thing as more effective - regulation on high finance. He envisages a new form of capitalism that “puts finance at the service of business and citizens.”
- "Ms Merkel has welded a more successful coalition government than many expected. She is a quietly competent administrator, who marks a welcome contrast to the blustering anti-American demagoguery of her immediate predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. But she lacks political charisma."
Missing from The Times's list is Canada's Stephen Harper. Like Chancellor Merkel, he also lacks charisma and leads a fragile, minority government but his approach to regulation, free trade and the war on terror is authentically conservative. Watch his interview with Sky News yesterday.
But The Times does have a point. It sees David Cameron as the possible future of conservatism:
Mr Cameron will succeed in that task if he can stay focused on the big issues. He needs to avoid becoming distracted by Red Toryism, nudging and other essentially marketing devices. He needs a much stronger foreign policy but in recognising the importance of social reform (the biggest idea on the centre right), the environment, being vindicated on fiscal responsibility and as a stalwart defender of free trade he is, indeed, well-placed to become a leader of global conservatism.