Reihan: A Conservative Comeback?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. But it seems the Cameron Conservatives are not doomed just yet.

The Tories now have a huge opening to ram home to the public what everyone in Westminster knows: Brown is just as keen on spin as Blair. The line of attacks should be, if Brown will play politics with the deployment of British troops overseas is there anything that he won’t do to win?

Add to this, the brewing row over the apparent use of Treasury officials to discredit Tory tax plans and Brown has got himself on to a very sticky wicket at just the wrong time. Cameron will step up to the podium on Wednesday with the Tories in far better shape than anyone would have expected this time last week. If he delivers, the Tories might just find themselves with the big ‘mo behind them.

That, of course, is a big "if." Now, you might be wondering: what's at stake here? Lefties can be forgiven for thinking that a Cameron defeat would be a very good thing. After all, the rap on him is that he is "Chameleon Dave," an essentially Bushian figure who uses sugary language to sell a musty and divisive agenda. Or lefties could see that Cameron represents a marked shift on the right, away from classical Thatcherism in favor of a more modest, meliorist politics that accepts the basics of the Thatcherite settlement and the Blairite settlement. To the extent the Cameron Conservatives want to shrink the size of government, they mean to shrink its relative size by growing the economy and the voluntary sector. You can disagree with this, but lefties would be right to see this as a "taming" of the political right, a phenomenon also seen in Sweden's Reinfeldt government.