David Cameron, Tory moderniser, ends 13-year Labour era (Profile)

May 12th, 2010 - 4:07 am ICT by IANS  

David Cameron London, May 12 (DPA) David Cameron, once heralded as the “Tories’ answer to Tony Blair”, has returned Britain’s Conservatives to power, after a 13-year-gap, on a modernising agenda.
Like Blair, who launched the New Labour era with a landslide victory in 1997, Cameron is seen as a smooth operator with a fluent television manner and a passionate impulse for change.

At the age of 43, Cameron is the youngest person to become prime minister in Britain since Robert Banks Jenkinson in 1812.

His victory marks the first time that the Conservatives seized power from Labour in an election since Margaret Thatcher came to power May 3, 1979.

When he first considered running for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2005, he was advised by many that he would have no chance of winning.

“I didn’t think, well, that’s going to be straightforward,” he told Daily Telegraph magazine in a recent interview.

“I don’t have some sort of ironclad certainty. I don’t have a sense of irredeemable destiny. That’s not what I’m like.”

In the five years since he was elected, Cameron has been credited with freeing the Tories from their “nasty party” image.

He showed little tolerance with members of parliament who became embroiled in last years scandal over expenses, and strove to attract a greater number of women and ethnic minority candidates.

“The Conservative Party has to start with a blank piece of paper and try to work out why our support base is not broader,” he said.

But Cameron, his aides insist, is neither a Thatcherite nor a Blair mark II.

Cameron has described himself as an “instinctive liberal Conservative” with a healthy scepticism of people proclaiming to have the vision “to remake the world”.

“I’m a practical person, and pragmatic. I know where I want to get to, but I’m not ideologically attached to one particular method,” he said.

His aides say his attitudes are “traditional and heartfelt”, and his method of working is summed up in his favourite phrase: “Quiet efficiency”.

The “modern conservative alternative” offered by Cameron is built around cutting back the state and building a “big society” in which control of public services would, to a degree, be devolved from the state.

On foreign policy, a Cameron government is likely to be guided by Britain’s “national interest”, defending the country’s independent nuclear deterrent and preparing an exit strategy for Afghanistan.

Under him, Britain would “never join the euro”, Cameron has vowed, citing the Greek crisis. He backs Turkey’s EU membership.

Cameron’s EU stance - to be in Europe but “not to be ruled by Europe” - is likely to make him a difficult partner for fellow European Union (EU) nations.

He has upset major EU members by quitting the centrist grouping in the European Parliament in favour of a rightwing alliance and promised the British people referendums on all major policies decided at EU level.

Cameron believes that immigration into Britain has been “too high for too long”, and pledged to impose an annual cap on non-EU arrivals.

The Conservatives claim that 13 years of Labour rule in Britain have left behind a “broken society” in which moral values - such as the belief in marriage and family - have declined.

Although himself from a privileged background, Cameron has carefully re-crafted his image as a modern family man. He can be seen cycling and jogging near his fashionable Notting Hill home from where he has pioneered internet chats while cooking meals for his children.

Born October 9, 1966, the third of four children of a wealthy stockbroker and a campaigning magistrate, Cameron was educated at exclusive Eton College and graduated with a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford University in 1988. He showed little interest in student politics.

He has dismissed attacks on his privileged private education, saying that he believed that “class war politics are completely outdated”.

Cameron worked as a parliamentary researcher for leading Conservatives in the 1990s before joining commercial broadcaster Carlton Television in a PR role. He was first elected to parliament in 2001.

He quickly established himself as one of the brightest of the new Tory intake, becoming the leading light of the so-called Notting Hill set of young modernisers.

Cameron and his wife Samantha in 2009 suffered the loss of Ivan, their six-year-old disabled son, in what he said was a “life-changing experience” that almost made him quit politics.

The couple have two other children, Nancy, 6, and Arthur, 4, with a new baby due in September.

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