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Guardian warns that Cameron's "war on the state" could "unseal the deal"

There were two big themes to David Cameron's speech; one was the emphasis on a socially-just conservatism and the other was an emphasis on government failure. The Telegraph and Guardian have chosen to focus on the scepticism of the power of government.

Guardian&Telegraph A reminder of what Cameron actually said:

"Here is the big argument in British politics today, put plainly and simply. Labour say that to solve the country’s problems, we need more government.

Don’t they see? It is more government that got us into this mess.

Why is our economy broken? Not just because Labour wrongly thought they’d abolished boom and bust. But because government got too big, spent too much and doubled the national debt. Why is our society broken? Because government got too big, did too much and undermined responsibility. Why are our politics broken? Because government got too big, promised too much and pretended it had all the answers...

Do you know the worst thing about their big government? It’s not the cost, though that’s bad enough. It is the steady erosion of responsibility. Our task is to lead Britain in a completely different direction.  So no, we are not going to solve our problems with bigger government. We are going to solve our problems with a stronger society. Stronger families.  Stronger communities.  A stronger country. All by rebuilding responsibility."

Picture 88 Martin Kettle, in The Guardian, wonders if Cameron's 'anti-government' rhetoric could "unseal the deal" with left-of-centre voters:

"This was not merely the least technically assured or successful leader's speech that Cameron has delivered from a conference platform. It was also the most ideologically reckless. Its head-on challenge to the role of government was as dogmatic in a diametrically different way as Brown's defence of government had been in Brighton. It came as close to vacating the political middle ground as Cameron has ever been."

The speech was "boring", agrees Peter Oborne, but he found it a nonetheless compelling argument for smaller government (Daily Mail):

"Mr Cameron's new vision of government is based around the profoundly Tory - and indeed Christian - proposition that men and women should be given the power to shape their destinies. Mr Blair and Mr Brown believed that only the state could shape human lives. Mr Cameron said yesterday that it is society - all of us acting together acting independently of the state - which really matters."

Fraser Nelson, guest writing for The Guardian, agrees:

"Cameron made the moral case for smaller government. Labour had acted with the "best intentions", he said, but it led to the worst of results – the story of unintended consequences. For 12 years, Labour fought poverty – and poverty won. Worse, the horizontal links which once bound communities together have been replaced by vertical links, tying the individual to the state. So the Tory mission would be to put trust back, hack back interfering government, and let healing begin."

Tim Montgomerie


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