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Ed -- Your question is who is the biggest influence, Fraser Nelson addresses the question of who is the biggest intellectual influence. Might I suggest the addition of this adjective narrows the field dramatically.

I take no joy in observing that Mr Cameron styles himself all too much on Blair.

"I take no joy in observing that Mr Cameron styles himself all too much on Blair."
Is it a negative in today's political climate that we have a leader who is "media savvy"?. I would have thought that at a time when we have such a mountain to climb before the next GE that would be a positive asset.
After only 6 months in the job it seems that we are all to quick to condemn David Cameron for simple being more attractive than some of our previous leader's because of what, his looks, his emphasis on issues like the environment or the family.
I will compare him to Blair, when after being in office a few years he judges the next newspaper headline more important than
competent management of government and actual delivery of promises.

Ed, I stand by my comment that Steve Hilton is at the heart of Mr Camerons team. I believe (based on no evidence I may add) that Hiltons influence has helped to place the environment at the heart of the Conservatism (quite rightly too).

Obviously there are different forms of influence.

It would be like asking me who influences my political philosophy. The answer would be very different to who has influenced me to go shopping in Meadowhall on Sunday during the England game. Perhaps that shows who pulls the strings in my house!

I have argued in "Compassionate Conservatism" (free download from Policy Exchange) that the main intellectual influences are the ideas of thinkers such as Smith, Burke, Hayek and Oakeshott, and in particular the idea of a "connected society".

But it's the vigour, energy and creativity of the overall debate that matters, not the contribution of any one particular person.

It has to be Steve Hilton. He writes the speeches. Refines the messages. He is now dominant at CCHQ.

I agree with Chris, John - don't confuse being able to manage the news cycle and fighting the fight as necessary in 2006, with being styling one's self "too much on Blair".

If that IS what you mean by being Blairite, then I don't think there is an alternative - unless you'd rather luxuriate in the moral virtue while in Opposition.

"influence has helped to place the environment at the heart of the Conservatism (quite rightly too).

Pull the other one Jonathan! Cameron's glib "I'll plant a few trees" knee-jerk response to being rumbled after taking a private jet to the footie shows his real interest in the environment.

Are 'planting trees' the new "Hail Mary's"?

Disagree Chad. I believe the party has always been environmental - but never placed it at its heart.

I agree with Jesse about it being about the overall debate - but I dont think that precludes any leader to be influenced by one person, group or set of ideas over another.

Jonathan - environmentally sinning then 'planting trees' to offset your sin is not the behaviour of someone committed to the environment.

My vote is for Blair - but I'll revisit that if and when some proper right wing economic policies come out

I dont regard flights as being "sinful". Perhaps I will compose something for the platform - so it could be discussed further.

You might not, but Cameron obviously does as that was his response to being criticsed for taking a private jet, and not the train with Brown and the footie fans.

Cameron has modelled himself on Jonathan Ross

"You might not, but Cameron obviously does as that was his response to being criticised for taking a private jet, and not the train with Brown and the footie fans"
Planes, trains, automobiles and TANKS spring to mind!
Where was Eurostar when Gordon had to turn back without leaving the airport because he was needed back in Westminster to vote?.
I think that your "dislike" of David Cameron is becoming a bit petty and does not add anything to the overall debate about everyone simple doing a bit more to help the environment.

Re:" Are planting trees the new 'Hail Mary's'"
No, Hail mary's do more good than planting trees.

It will be interesting to catch DC on the Ross show tonight. He might come out with a few of his influences. 10.45 on Beeb 1 i believe.

Hi Chris, I don't dislike Cameron at all, and am equally critical of Brown and much, much more so of Blair.

However, over the past few weeks the Tories have slammed (quite rightly) Labour over using expensive flights on government business when they could have taken the eurostar, so it is only balanced and fair that Cameron should also be held to account when he takes a private jet to watch a football match whilst being championed by some Tories as being pro-environment.

I understand that criticsm is not welcome by many here.

Back to the topic of this posting which is who is the biggest influence over Cameron - I also would add the Shadow Chancellor.

Jonathan@16:42 I have always had the impression that the main influence behind DC was the shadow chancellor. Much more of a genuine team effort, rather than the pact born out of necessity between Blair and Brown.

The idea of Cameron's politics is to be interesting and yet cryptic. So that each faction can imagine he's really with them.

This can be taken to mean that he has no policy beliefs. Or it can be taken to mean that he is clever at filling as big a tent as possible, by keeping his policy beliefs to himself.

There are clues as to what these are, but none are conclusive at this stage. Like all puddings, the proof will be in the eating. Cameron like Blair will probably become a pudding that does get eaten, and then the credits can roll.

Its Steve Hilton and George Bridges who have the stongest power - they were also two of the biggest influences on Michael Howard. Amazing how they have reinvented themselves under Cameron. Suggests that their views are easily changed according to fashion and that if the strategy becomes unpopular it will rememerge as something else cooked up in the focus groups.

In contrast to previous regimes Cameron is effectively operating without a chief of staff or press secretary - putting very low grade people in those roles.

He is his own man , as he should be.

Frances Maude certainly pulls a lot of Cameron's strings and was a chaperone in the early days of his leadership.

It is no bad thing that, to some extent, Cameron bases his style on that of Blair. Drinking coffee, riding bikes, pushing prams and talking to Jonathon Ross is all expected of a future Prime Minister. The electorate wants someone with a bit of charisma. Just look at the way in which Brown and Campbell have been pillored.

Blair set a precendent, and as long as he doesn't mimick him politically, following it is fine by me.

Intellectually speaking, I don't have the foggiest.

"Disagree Chad. I believe the party has always been environmental - but never placed it at its heart."

It depends how you define environmental. Insofar as the Tories were traditionally the party of the English counryside, the "natural" environment was once central to its identity.

Luntz. Without him Cameron wouldn't have been elected leader.

Judging from Boy Wonder's utterances, u turns, actions and attitudes in general I would say Tony Blair is a big influence

After all isn't his aim to be the 'heir of Blair' ~ So help us!

He gets the interdependence thing - we are all in this together- that is the hallmark of any true Tory who cares about building a free society - such freedom comes only with a sense of our interconnected responsibilities towards one another - and that almost never comes from coercive legislation. So all the guff above about how Cameron is a wannabe Blair because he's fantastic in the media (what would you prefer? Some mumbling old fool?) or because he's refocused our priorities away from those that lost the last three elections (the one thing that Keynes got right: when the facts change, I change my mind - what do you do?) - is just so much negative energy & a waste of time. Pleased to read the Nelson article because David Willets has of course been writing beautifully about the need for a community-based Toryism for years. He's one of the joys of the Conservative Party is that man, seems to me incapable of writing a foolish word (other than that silly memo when he was junior whip!).

Zac Goldsmith looks like a big influence

It would be excellent if the main influence on Cameron was squirrel called Roger , who lived in a tree in Kent. This would lead to a realignment of policy priorties, particularly in relation to Iraq.
However i expect his main influence , like most married men, is his wife.

If David Willits is the man behind Cameron I just wonder what they have in store for us,given the fact that he says the conservatives will take a more robust attitude with President Bush regarding matters (be more precise David) and he also said, on that bastion of democracy newsnight, that they could do things together with the Dim Libs, well as a staunch conservative of the Thatcher days and admirer of the late great President Reagan I can,t see Cameron and myself having very much in common. And the only thing I admire about Tony Blair as been his foreign policy and his readiness to stand up to terrorism along side President Bush.So with the state of affairs as they are, I think I,ll vote for Tony(first time I,ve ever voted Labour) and feel a lot safer for myself and family under the USA and union flags.Yours sincerely Colin Moore.

Firstly Colin, it won't be Tony. It will most likely be Brown. If, as a 'staunch conservative' you feel comfortable voting for a man whose economic record and policies are about as far from Mrs. Thatcher and President Reagan as they can be, then clearly you have a very poor understanding of things.

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