Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lessons from the Tories - Matthew Razzano

by Matthew Razzano

While money and safety are critical, the biggest takeaway from the May 7 election was the resilience of conservative thinking.

Last Thursday, May 7, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom shocked pundits and reporters by winning a majority of seats in the House of Commons, despite polling that suggested a “dead heat.” 

About a year and a half before United States’ voters drive to the polls to choose their next president, David Cameron’s return to power may reveal important lessons for Republicans in 2016.

Now, British politics are different, and the Conservative Party, while similar to the GOP, is not the same as the Republican Party.  The United Kingdom, as a whole, is less conservative than the United States, aligned more closely to the classical European welfare state.  The English have come to accept and expect certain government programs that are contentious in the U.S. (e.g., the National Health Service).  And many social policies are less critical because the nation, as a whole, is far less religious.  Nonetheless, there exists considerable overlap on some issues.  Conservatives favor lower taxes, less government intrusion, and stronger national security.

David Cameron lowered corporate tax rates upon taking office, spurring significant business growth within London.  While controversial at the time, the Tories adopted austerity measures, making significant cuts to several government programs.  Cameron’s education cuts, specifically, prompted massive demonstrations across the country.  Furthermore, his Conservative government has remained skeptical of British involvement in the European Union and the added regulation and bureaucracy that it brings.  Despite his success, David Cameron and his flawed coalition government (formed with Liberal Democrats) were left for dead, but they defied the odds and won enough seats to form a majority government.

So what can Republicans learn?

David Cameron built his campaign around taking credit for Britain’s successful recovery from the financial crisis – a recovery that bested many of his European rivals.  Republicans need to construct a campaign around the economy, because Americans still tend to vote with their wallets.  Mitt Romney, despite his decorated economic credentials, was unable to articulate this message.

Foreign policy issues look different in the U.K. from how they look in the United States, but this recent election had major implications for Britain’s standing in the world, specifically its membership in the EU.  David Cameron projected confidence when discussing this stance, and despite the unknown economic ramifications, voters trusted him to do the right thing.  In the midst of global turmoil and uncertainty, Republicans will need to display this same leadership to defeat Hillary Clinton.

While money and safety are critical, the biggest takeaway from the May 7 election was the resilience of conservative thinking.  Many American media outlets portray Republicans as “out of touch” and “staid.”  Yet David Cameron just made clear the ability to translate this ideology into success at the polls and in government.  Conservatism is not dead in America; it just needs the right messenger.

Matthew Razzano


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment