Over the past few weeks the Conservatives have been quick to change their tune on a number of top issues, the most provoking probably being homosexuality, leading one to wonder just how genuine this new age Conservatism really is?
David Cameron, the new face of an old party tries his best to appear prim and proper, while pining for a ‘cool’ and ‘down with real life’ reputation, attempting any cheap ploy to achieve this. He appears to be using exactly the same tactics which helped Tony Blair to win such a landslide victory in 1997. For Blair the task was to act like a toff, appeal to the Conservatives for the first time, and show that Labour was no longer only for the working class. Cameron has the opposite task, persuading the left-wing voters that a conservative government can be liberal and in-touch with the masses, not just the wealthy.
Looking at the Tories campaign it is painfully obvious to see these attempts. To name a few we can look at his cringe worthy YouTube videos, his wife (just by chance) wearing a £55, accessible to the general public, M&S dress at the conservative party conference in October 2009, and the biggie – the sudden acceptance of all things homosexual.
The question is whether any of these changes are genuine? Is this a party trying to change itself to better govern the majority of the country? Or is this a government who are simply altering their image in order to win votes? Most importantly, will this new conservatism really last if they win this year’s elections?
This month Cameron gave an interview with openly gay, and openly anti-Cameron columnist Johann Bari which was published in both the Independent and Britain’s best-selling gay magazine – Attitude. As the first Conservative leader to speak at a gay pride event, David Cameron is clearly making a huge effort to change the homophobic image which his party has carried for so long.
Section 28 was brought in by Tory leader Margaret Thatcher in 1988, and prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ and teaching of homosexual relationships in schools. In 2003 when Labour finally lifted the ban, Cameron voted for only partial lifting of the legislation. He also vocally criticized Blair for “moving heaven and earth to allow the promotion of homosexuality in our schools”.
What a difference a couple of years make! Cameron now says that it was one of his proudest moments, when in 2006 at the annual party conference he told the Conservatives of their ‘duty to support commitment to marriage…between and man and a man and a woman and a woman’.
So can views really change so quickly? And even is those of Mr Cameron have, can we really say the same for the majority of his party? Of those eligible to vote, Bari pointed out in his interview with Cameron that 85 percent of his party voted in favor of Section 28, and 90 per cent voted against equalising the age of consent.
It seems to me that from a party so apologetic for their previous anti-gay stance, who meanwhile continue to ally themselves with centre-right, openly homophobic European politicians, all that the British public is getting is show. When choosing our next government, we must seriously look at whether we can truly trust this friendly exterior. Is this whole more relaxed Conservative outlook not all just public pleasing?