What Is David Cameron Waiting For?

This column was originally featured at Big Jolly Politics:

By Steve Parkhurst

I look to Great Britain, and I wonder what they stand for, what they would be willing to fight for, and why they do not seem to be fighting for anything.

The unbelievable terror attack in broad daylight near London recently, where a solider was beheaded with a machete and a meat cleaver, was yet another example of suicidal levels of tolerance that have come to pass in the United Kingdom. Prime Minster David Cameron was in Paris when the killing in Woolwich took place. In announcing his return to London after the attack, Cameron said:

“I’ve been briefed by the Home Secretary about this absolutely sickening attack in Woolwich in London. It is the most appalling crime. We are urgently seeking, and the police are urgently seeking, the full facts about this case. But there are strong indications that it is a terrorist incident. Two people at the scene of the murder were wounded by the police, and they are being treated as suspects.”

That is benign enough. Cameron continued later:

“The police and the security services in the UK will get all of the support that they need to deal with this, or indeed with any other incident.”

This sort of comment about “all of the support that they need” is reminiscent of US leaders saying such things after massive weather events or other tragedies. It is starting to become vague and meaningless, it lacks teeth.

Cameron concluded his statement:

“Tonight our thoughts should be with the victim, with their family, with their friends. People across Britain, people in every community, I believe, will utterly condemn this attack. We have had these sorts of attacks before in our country, and we never buckle in the face of them.”

Sounds tough. Sounds like a leader. But is it hollow rhetoric or is it a call to action?

The leader of the UK Green Party promptly condemned the attack, before taking the typical Leftist route of blaming the UK’s foreign policy for the attack, rather than the cold-blooded murderers. This is what Natalie Bennett said:

“It’s absolutely tragic what happened in Woolwich and you’ve got to feel not just for the family of the serviceman but also for the people and bystanders that saw it happen and the emergency services that had to deal with it afterwards. But if we’re going to stop that happening again in the future, one of the biggest things we have to do is stop regarding ourselves as the world’s policeman.”

Such cowardice is typical, but it is also what fills the void in place of a lack of bold leadership, or bold actions. And let it also be understood that when you follow up on the acknowledgement of a tragedy with the transitional, “But,” you are losing the argument, and maybe your country too if you’re not careful.

I like what the Prime Minister tried to do with and continues to work toward with his Big Society initiative. The Big Society consists of re-focusing the efforts of government to be more limited, efficient and effective, and instead encouraging the private sector to take on more responsibility for taking care in their communities via charities, churches, non-profits, schools and the like.

The Big Society was launched once, rather stalled out, then was launched again. While there are mechanisms and speeches and logos and slogans in place, one would be hard pressed to find whether the Big Society is in operation, stalled out waiting for revival number three, or scrapped altogether.

The London riots in the summer of 2011, where the vermin of the country gathered to wreak havoc and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in destruction to various neighborhoods night after night, would have been a great opportunity for the Prime Minster to set a new national standard for decency and a new direction for the nation as a whole. Kit Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor of London, condemned the actions from his position and he also went on the offensive:

“Obviously there are people in this city, sadly, who are intent on violence, who are looking for the opportunity to steal and set fire to buildings and create a sense of mayhem, whether they’re anarchists or part of organised gangs or just feral youth frankly, who fancy a new pair of trainers.”

Sure, the Prime Minister said many of the right things that needed to be said:

“So this must be a wake-up call for our country.

Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face.

Now, just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated.

Our security fightback must be matched by a social fightback.

We must fight back against the attitudes and assumptions that have brought parts of our society to this shocking state.”

The world watched. The world waited. The Prime Minster waited as well.

Do not get me wrong, there is some good stuff in that speech. If you see the video of that speech, it is tough to believe that Cameron believed any of what he said that day. That is part of the problem and part of where my argument hinges, Cameron may be too carefully scripted for his own good.

In April of this year, with the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, came a unique opportunity for the current Prime Minister to effectively re-launch his term in office. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister delivered some eloquent prose in his tribute to Margaret Thatcher:

“They say that cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Well in 1979 came the hour, and came The Lady.

She made the political weather.

She made history.

And let this be her epitaph: that she made Britain great again.”

Once again, the words were right. But, the opportunity was missed.

As the gutter rats celebrated Thatcher’s death with signs and celebratory protests, there were many people of all political beliefs who rallied to celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s life and her deeds. She held beliefs that were not always popular. She made decisions she felt were in the best interest of her country. She obviously did not just make decisions to be liked, or to be popular. In some cases, a vocal minority just effectively looked like a vocal majority. Not everyone agreed with her, but most everyone respected her as a woman, and as importantly, as a leader.

A disaster or a catastrophic event is not necessary in order to create a situation where David Cameron could emerge as a leader, or as a hero. David Cameron does not need a President George W. Bush-like “bullhorn moment” on top of a pile of rubble. What I’m talking about is the opportunities that arise. The opportunities that demand a leader take action. The opportunities that can make and shape a nation. The opportunities to be better. The opportunities that turn to regret in the absence of action, and in the clarity of light.

David Cameron has had these opportunities. There is no such thing as knowing how many more opportunities he will have. Will he ever take the chance to grab greatness?

I think David Cameron can be a great and transformative leader, he has already had to take on many reforms and make unpopular spending decisions because of the collapse of the world economy. And as I suggested before, I like some of the moves he has made while being part of a bizarre coalition government between the conservative Tory party and the left-leaning Liberal Democrats. And what I’m talking about is not a piece of legislation, but instead a vocal declaration, a mandate from the top, that shows a path and does not need legislation, just leadership and direction. Given the current economic conditions where there is a limited amount of money for government to spend, leadership without legislation may be exactly what the world ordered.

Isabel Hardman of The Spectator points to some of the eloquence I have referenced with regard to Cameron, especially in the aftermath of the Woolwich killing:

“It goes without saying that when it comes to serious national tragedies, David Cameron is the right man to give a statement from Downing Street. His response today to the Woolwich killing underlined how good he is at producing sensitive and thoughtful speeches which, though written swiftly, avoid any knee-jerk reaction.”

As you can well imagine at this point, I find the phrase “give a statement” both humorous and insulting. There is not really a doubt that David Cameron can deliver a speech. The question is going to be can he deliver anything beyond words at any point. His re-election in 2015 may hinge on such a thing. His country’s fate may hinge on it even sooner.

I continue to wait for Prime Minister Cameron to get tough, to get bold, to set some lofty standards. I continue to be disappointed on that front. Winston Churchill had his moment. Margaret Thatcher had hers. Tony Blair stepped up when terror called. David Cameron is waiting.

But, what is he waiting for?


David Cameron’s New Year Message 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a New Year message. I think the Prime Minister’s statement “we can look to the future with realism and optimism”, is an interesting sentiment and I think it is well said.

We’re posting the video and the full text of the statement.

2012 was an extraordinary year for our country. We celebrated our Queen with the Jubilee. And with the Olympics and Paralympics we showed beyond any doubt that Britain can deliver. It was a great year. But, if we are honest, it was a tough one too.

We are still dealing with debts that built up over many years. And for many families, making ends meet is difficult. So to anyone starting this New Year with questions about where we are heading and what the future holds, I want to reassure you of this: we are on the right track. On all the big issues that matter to Britain, we are heading in the right direction and I have the evidence to prove it.

This government inherited a huge budget deficit that was dragging our country down. Well, this New Year, that deficit is forecast to be £13 billion smaller than last New Year, down by one quarter since we came to office.

We inherited a welfare system that was frankly out of shape, that paid people not to work. So we made some big changes, and this New Year almost half a million more people are in work than last New Year. That is real progress.

We inherited an education system where too often mediocre was deemed good enough and discipline in many schools was slack. We said we need more discipline, tougher exams and more academies because those schools consistently get better results. Well, this New Year we’ve got more than 1,000 academies open than last New Year. The numbers studying science and languages are going up. And teachers have more power over discipline than they’ve had for years. This is, quite simply, a government in a hurry. And there’s a reason for that.

Britain is in a global race to succeed today. It is race with countries like China, India and Indonesia; a race for the jobs and opportunities of the future. So when people say we can slow down on cutting our debts, we are saying no. We can’t win in this world with a great millstone of debt round our necks.

When people say we’ve got to stop our welfare reforms because somehow it is cruel to expect people to work, we are saying no. Getting people into good jobs is absolutely vital, not just for them, but for all of us. And when there is a fight on our hands to change our schools, we are ready and willing to have it because having a world-class education is the only way our children are going to get on in this world.

And we know what we are doing all this for: not just to get our country up the rankings in some global league table but to get behind anyone who likes to work hard and get on in life. It’s for those people that we made changes to our tax system in 2012, cutting the income tax bills of 24 million workers. It is for them that we have frozen the council tax for three years in a row, to keep bills as low as we can.

And we did the right thing by our pensioners too, in 2012, bringing in the biggest ever increase in the state pension. This is what this government is about: making sure Britain succeeds in this global race and, above all, helping our people succeed, the people who work hard and aspire to a better life for their families.

So this is my message to the country at the start of 2013. We can look to the future with realism and optimism. Realism, because you can’t cure problems, that were decades in the making, overnight. There are no quick fixes and I wouldn’t claim otherwise. But we can be optimistic too because we are making tangible progress. We are doing what’s right for our country and what’s best for our children’s future. And nothing could be more important than that.

So Happy New Year and best wishes for 2013.

Yes, Prime Minister

The events that took place today in London were nothing short of remarkable. If you were able to watch any of the proceedings during our 1pm-3pm hours (CST), you know what I’m talking about.

During that time, Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister, he then left 10 Downing Street to head to Buckingham Palace where he gave the Queen his resignation. Then, within minutes, David Cameron went to Buckingham Palace where the Queen asked him to form a government, he agreed, and with that a new Prime Minister made his way to Downing Street to get to work.

Upon arriving to 10 Downing Street, Cameron gave this speech, with no notes and no teleprompter.

The dynamics of the election last week and some of what led to the changes today, will be stuff of history. We’ll be reading about it for years to come I’m sure. One of the people who had led Obama’s campaign in 2008, Anita Dunn, was a key player in Cameron’s campaign. It’s no coincidence that “change” was part of the Conservative Party logo and message this year.

As I touched on before and will write more about later, the Cameron campaign was a conservative model that we should look at following parts of here in the United States going into 2010. From the “contract with young people“, to their “contract for jobs“, to their “quality of life manifesto“, I think the Conservative Party put forth one positive proposal after another and they earned the trust of the people of Britain (yes there is a hung parliament, but the number of seats that changed hands was overwhelming).

One thing we must understand, and learn to live with, it that in those proposals, people may not have agreed with the Conservative Party 100% on each idea in each proposal. However, the party itself was bold enough to say “here is where we stand, where does the other side stand?”. I think when you make the choices that clear, people will always follow the logical options and the ones based on the most common sense

Conservative Offense Must Be Keeping Gordon Brown Awake At Night

As I reported yesterday, Conservative Party candidate for Prime Minister, David Cameron, introduced what is known as “A contract between the Conservative Party and you”.

Obviously, I was impressed. Then, I woke up this morning to see that the Conservative Party has now introduced a “contract for jobs“. In my opinion, this contract is full of common sense solutions. One of the highlights was this:

“introduce Work for Yourself, a new scheme to help unemployed would-be entrepreneurs start their own business by giving them access to a business mentor and start-up loans.”

I happen to think this overall concept is great, it’s something we should have been doing here since the beginning of the internet boom. I do wonder about the word “scheme” though. Maybe overseas that word carries a different connotation, but here, that word sounds under-handed and negative.

The election is four days away. The Conservatives are on serious offense right now. I almost can’t wait until the 10pm and 11pm hours here in the States for the new articles to start hitting the British websites in their early morning hours. You have to assume Gordon Brown wants to respond, which would mean Cameron is controlling the debate. I suspect we’ll have four more days of full throttle offense from Cameron and the Conservatives on their way to victory on Thursday.

British Prime Minster Election

I’m ready to call next week’s Prime Minister election in favor of Conservative party candidate David Cameron. Prime Minister Brown’s recent gaffe, is such a clear example of the difference in political systems between the U.S. and Britain. While it used to be true that “what happens in Europe eventually happens here”, the Prime Minister candidates are having live television debates this year, for the FIRST time ever. Something we started doing here in 1960 with the infamous Kennedy vs. Nixon debate.


There had been quite a bit of speculation about a hung Parliament, but the gaffe by the guy at the top of the ballot, may influence enough independents to empower the Conservative party.

I’ll have more later on about the impact of the Conservative party on the national elections in Britain. I think the party has done many things right. David Cameron presented what became known as a “Green Manifesto”, which addressed environmental issues from a more sensible, rational point of view. Stay tuned.