David Cameron, the new leader of the Tories, wants to recapture the centre ground for the British Conservative Party. The question is whether he can do so whilst keeping the Conservatives conservative. So far, Cameron has given few clues as to his true orientation on such divisive matters as the European Union, the euro, and taxation.
Still, his supporters are intoxicated with a sense of new possibilities. Cameron is a media-friendly performer whom everyone is greeting with relief as a plausible potential Prime Minister. Cameron makes no bones about his admiration for Tony Blair's rebranding of the old Labour Party into New Labour, and would love to emulate that reconnecting gambit with the Tories. The "Notting Hill Tories" Cameron personifies represent a younger brand of would-be "inclusive" politically-correct conservatism. This has been espoused by a new generation of Tories, one in some ways reassuringly traditional in terms of social background.
Cameron is the first Old Etonian leader of the Tories since Alec Douglas-Home over 40 years ago. As with many Etonians, Cameron's surface smoothy-chops charm overlays a seam of seemingly self-satisfied smugness. But that may be a superficial judgment.
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