Political positions of David Cameron
|This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (May 2012)|
- 1 Overview
- 2 Economic policy
- 3 Linux and Open source
- 4 Social policy
- 5 Foreign policy
- 6 Constitutional issues
- 7 Criticism of other parties and politicians
- 8 References
Cameron describes himself as a "modern compassionate conservative" and has said that he is "fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster". He has stated that he is "certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite." He has also claimed to be a "Liberal Conservative", and "not a deeply ideological person". Cameron stated in 2005 that he did not intend to oppose the Labour government as a matter of course, and will offer his support in areas of agreement. He also wants to move the Conservatives focus away from purely fiscal matters, saying "It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB - general well-being". There have been claims that he described himself to Journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the "Heir to Blair".
He and others in the 'Notting Hill Set' have sought to focus on issues such as the environment, work-life balance and international development—issues not seen as priorities for the post-Thatcher Conservative party. In a speech to the Conservative annual conference in October 2006, he identified the concept of "social responsibility" as the essence of his political philosophy.
In 2008, Cameron organized a seminar for senior Conservatives with the economist Richard Thaler and began discussing the influence of Thaler's ideas on Conservative policy. Thaler is the co-author with Cass Sunstein of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and the pair are informal policy advisors to Barack Obama. Cameron included the book in a 2008 reading list for Conservative MPs.
Cameron has said that it is "essential to reduce taxes on employment and wealth creation in order to enhance our economy's competitiveness. But I don't think it's sensible today to write a Conservative budget for 2009 or 2010, with specific pledges on tax reduction." He has stated that he hoped to cut taxes and raise public spending, "as the economy grows". He has referred to this approach as "sharing the proceeds of growth".
Cameron intends to increase the period of copyright from 50 to 70 years, bring copyright infringing downloads under stronger legal control and require Internet Service Providers to "block access and indeed close down offending file-sharing sites". He supports music industry representatives going into schools to teach children about copyright, technology hindering copyright infringement (DRM), and encourages the music industry to exercise self-censorship on its material in return for the above music industry friendly measures.
Cameron made up a quote about how the existing copyright laws of the UK would have prevented the foundation of Google in his country.
Cameron has regularly stressed his green credentials since becoming leader, describing himself as "passionate about our environment." He has argued that "there is a price... for tackling climate change" but it is a "social responsibility to the next generation". He has stated he is committed to achieving the 2010 emissions limit and has announced he would change the current Climate Change Levy to a carbon tax in order to counter global warming. Cameron proposed a Climate Change Bill which would include committing to binding annual carbon reduction targets. However, a memo that was leaked to the Labour Party suggested the binding targets proposal may be dropped, and these do not form part of the proposed Bill as of November 2006.
He has also pledged to introduce a fair fuel stabilizer if elected, whereby tax on oil is cut as the price of oil goes up, and tax on oil is raised as the price of oil goes down. The policy is designed to make the price of oil consistent throughout the year.
It has been widely publicized that Cameron on occasion cycles to work. However, an official car that followed him carrying his clothes and official documents was photographed by the media, leading to accusations that his bicycling image was "spin". Cameron has since stated that this happened only "once or twice" and has vowed that it will not happen again, now that he has a pannier to carry documents. In the same interview he admitted that since becoming leader of the Conservative Party he is now only able to cycle to work once a week.
David Cameron has expressed his opposition to Green Taxes on Prime Minister's Questions on the 23rd October, stating that - in order to cut taxes generally - he would 'roll back' the Green Tax. The 'Big Six' energy companies are advocates of this, according to the Express online newspaper, in order to avoid Labour's plans for an energy price freeze, which would 'deter much-needed investment' from the energy industry (according to the Telegraph Online). Labour - on the other hand - implied that Cameron was being hypocritical, because even though he was proposing reducing renewable investment, he had said previously in the 2010 election campaign, '...vote blue to go green...' (i.e. vote conservative to ensure money is put into the renewable industry.).
Despite initial strong opposition, Cameron has since declared his support for the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 introduced by the Labour Party. More generally though, he has strongly supported deregulation of the private sector, promising an immediate deregulation bill upon election. He has also pledged to remove Britain from the European Union's social chapter and to withdraw unilaterally from certain directives stemming from the European Union. He has said that Britain must not be a "soft touch" and has called for a crackdown on "access to justice".
Despite showing caution with regard to promising big cuts in taxation, landmark Conservative pledges include increasing the inheritance tax exemption to £1 million and the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 to help first-time buyers. Other proposals include lower tax on alcohol, resistance to rises in vehicle excise duty, the fair fuel stabilizer described earlier, which cuts tax on oil as the price of it increases, a reduction in corporate tax to 25% and to 20% for small businesses, freezing council tax rates for 2 years and reforming child tax credits in order to encourage marriage.
In the wake of the 2008-9 recession, the Conservatives have not ruled out raising taxes, and have said it will be difficult to scrap the 50% top rate of income tax. They have said how they would prefer to cut a recent rise in national insurance
Linux and Open source
Cameron has praised Linux, and open source software and data formats, stating "We ... want to see how open source methods can help overcome the massive problems in government IT programs". In 2009, Cameron promised that a Conservative government would publish all details of government expenditure over £25,000 and "all parliamentary information online in an open source format".
In a July 2005 speech to the Centre for Social Justice (before becoming party leader) he stated, "the biggest challenge our country faces today is not economic decline, but social decline", stating that in life in Britain "there is a complex web of interconnected problem... Family breakdown. Persistent unemployment among some groups. Low expectations. Chaotic home environments. Drugs. Crime. Poor quality public space." Upon becoming leader, Cameron set up a number of committees, such as the Social Justice Policy Group chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, to generate policy ideas on these issues.
He describes The Big Society as his "great passion"; it is a policy 'to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will “take power away from politicians and give it to people”.'. Upon its relaunch on 19 July 2010 it was deemed damaging and/or unworkable by the Labour Party, the national press, and the country's two largest unions.
Cameron has pledged to scrap the early release of prisoners, toughen prison regimes, make them compensate victims through a special fund paid into by work in prison, and withdraw welfare payments from those who fail to attend community service. Uniforms would be introduced for those completing community service. He has also proposed a big prison-building program and introducing mandatory custodial sentences for all convicted of carrying a knife. His proposal to abolish the 1998 Human Rights Act would enable some of his measures.
However, in July 2006 Cameron made a second speech to the Centre for Social Justice in which he highlighted the problem of young offenders and called for more understanding. At the time, the News of the World headlined its report of the speech "Hug a hoodie, says Cameron", coining a phrase which came into popular use, although Cameron never actually used the phrase. Cameron afterwards stated that he never advocated hugging 'hoodies'. On 17 May 2007, Cameron labeled the speech as the "most misrepresented thing he had ever said" and reiterated that he didn't ask anyone to hug hoodies.
Cameron has criticised ASBOs as "reacting" to crime, rather than reducing it, and argued that they should be replaced with "challenging community punishments." In the same speech he also argued that young offenders should be shown "a lot more love" and more understanding into why youths commit crime, specifically calling for more youth counselling, education and training. Cameron was mocked by many Labour MPs for the speech, but he received unexpected backing from right-wing peer Norman Tebbit. Cameron has repeatedly defended his argument, saying that although "I understand, you break the law, you get punished" it was important "to understand what's gone wrong in these children's lives."
Cameron has pledged to develop policies to make the NHS a "more efficient, more effective and more patient-centered service." He wishes to grant the NHS much greater independence from the Department of Health in order to prevent it being used as a "political football" and to create "greater professional responsibility". He has stated the Conservative party will propose an NHS Independence Bill to this effect in January 2007, and has publicly asked the Labour leadership to support the bill, after he supported Blair's education reforms.
David Cameron has endorsed Labour's creation of city academies, as a way of improving standards in deprived areas. He has called on the government to go "further and faster" with the policy, and says that academies should be given even more freedom from central control. The scheme would be greatly extended by Cameron if elected.
He has pledged to give schools much greater independence from government, promising to give them control over admission policy and increase the use of specialist statuses.
Under David Cameron's leadership the university student fees where increased from £3,000 to £9,000 per year which has led to the famous student protests nationwide. Despite much action being taken against this reform the bill was still passed and is speculated to deter young people from higher education.
Cameron has also promised to increase the teaching by ability of pupils if elected. He has also made clear his stance on the social discrepancies within education and has encouraged young adults and children to help "beat the bad man" with him in one of his most recent campaigns.
During the Labour government's repeal of the Section 28 legislation in 2000, which banned local authorities from promoting the acceptability of homosexuality, Cameron accused Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair of being against family values and of pursuing the "promotion of homosexuality in schools". In 2003, once Cameron had been elected as Conservative MP for Witney, he continued to support Section 28 and voted against its full repeal via a Conservative amendment which would have maintained Section 28 in schools.
In 2002, Cameron voted in favor of a bill that would allow unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt children, but which would specifically ban gay couples from adopting.
More recently, Cameron has claimed to have changed his position on gay rights. Although he supported it to the end, he has claimed that he is glad Section 28 is gone (it was repealed by the Labour Government in 2003). Cameron voted in favor of civil partnerships for gay men and lesbians in 2004.
In March 2010, Cameron was interviewed by Gay Times, and was filmed struggling to explain his party's voting record on the issue of gay rights, at one point asking for the interview to be stopped while he gathered his thoughts.
In his speech at the 2011 Conservative Party Conference, Cameron said he supported same-sex marriage and his government would begin a consultation to legalize it.
Cameron has stated that the government needs to change social attitudes towards disability by setting an example for the private sector. Under a Conservative government the state would prioritize increasing the number of disabled people employed at Whitehall. Cameron has asked the disability charity Scope to advise on employment policy, claiming it is "morally wrong and economically stupid for five million on incapacity benefit who could work to be left on the scrap-heap." He has called for tougher medical tests and cutting the welfare benefits of those who fail them and refuse to join a return-to-work scheme.
Alcohol and other Drugs
Cameron has been accused of drug-taking as a youth, accusations that he has neither confirmed nor denied. He opposes drug legalization, supports more drug rehabilitation places and wants cannabis to remain a class B drug.
The Conservatives under Cameron have opposed increases in tax on alcohol, claiming that high excise taxes should be limited to drinks associated with crime and binge-drinking.
Cameron has spoken out against mandatory identity cards on a number of occasions, saying that they will not reduce crime and illegal immigration, will be a waste of money and are a violation of human rights.
David Cameron supports referring to British Hindus as a separate ethnic group, refining definition of "Asian" to separate ethnic groups, saying "And if you prefer to be referred to as British Hindus or British Indians rather than as simply Asians, we should welcome that as a positive thing." Cameron's comments are significant because the British Hindu community prefer terms "Hindu" or "Indian" to the ethnic grouping Asian due to the negative attitudes towards other parts of the "Asian" community, the current description does not recognize any distinction between these groups.
Cameron is in favor of overturning the ban on fox-hunting and has stated that a Conservative government under his leadership would give Parliament time for a free vote on the issue. He himself has been fox-hunting on several occasions. He has described the ban on fox-hunting in Britain as one of the issues that made him "furious".
Immigration, asylum and integration
Cameron has championed the introduction of an upper annual limit of immigration and an increase in the minimum age for foreign nationals to join spouses in the UK to 21. He has called for the introduction of a British Border Control Police, quotas for asylum seekers and all asylum claims to be assessed in overseas centers. Cameron favors British withdrawal from the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees.
Cameron has argued passionately for limits in welfare payments and in favour of individual initiative. Alongside the tougher medical tests, he proposes requiring all people receiving Jobseeker's Allowance to join a return to work programme and prevent people who refuse a job offer while on benefits from claiming for three years. People who claim benefits for two out of three years would be required to join a community work scheme.
Cameron has stated that he believes in "spreading freedom and democracy, and supporting humanitarian intervention" in cases such as the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. However, he claims to not be a neo-conservative because, as a conservative, he recognizes "the complexities of human nature, and will always be skeptical of grand schemes to remake the world." He supports multilateralism stating "a country may act alone - but it cannot always succeed alone." He believes multilateralism can take the form of acting through "NATO, the UN, the G8, the EU and other institutions", or through international alliances. Cameron has also argued that "If the West is to help other countries, we must do so from a position of genuine moral authority" and "we must strive above all for legitimacy in what we do."
Cameron has supported the alliance with the United States, viewing it as highly important. He has praised its role in the Second World War and the Cold War, about which he has said "Unlike some, I never had any doubts about whose side I was on". This was interpreted as a knock at sections of the Labour Party, some members of which had expressed support for the former Soviet Union. He has also claimed "we must be steadfast not slavish in how we approach the special relationship", arguing that "questioning the approach of the U.S. administration, trying to learn the lessons of the past five years, does not make you anti-American." Cameron also supports Israel and has described the state as being "a lone democracy in a region that currently boasts no others." He is a member of and has spoken for the Conservative Friends of Israel group. However he criticized the country's 2006 missile attacks on Lebanon, describing the force used as "disproportionate."
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In February 2010, the Argentine government announced that ships traversing Argentine territorial waters en route to the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands would require a permit, as part of a dispute over British oil exploration near the Falklands. The British and Falkland governments stated that Falklands-controlled waters were unaffected. There have been several disputes between the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner since 2011. The President Cristina demanded several times to talk and asked the Prime Minister accept the 40 ONU resolutions. The Prime Minister Cameron has always refused to talk and never accept a conversation with the president face to face. Beginning in 2012 the President of Argentina Cristina began to mention the case of the Falklands Islands in several of his public acts claiming the sovereignty of the islands. On 12 June 2012, the Falkland Islands government announced it would hold a referendum on the political status of the Islands in the first half of 2013. On 14 June 2012 the President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, attended the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations and strongly claim sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The British Prime Minister David Cameron was absent on that committee. In one part of his speech, Cristina said:
"We ask nothing more and nothing less to sit at a table to talk, she said Cristina Kirchner in the speech he gave before the committee, a space that has never before appeared on a head of state. He also questioned the plebiscite to ratify the islanders await their British status. Why the English do not do the referendum in Iraq or Afghanistan? He joked and said she had embarrassed to see yesterday waving the flag of the islands at the residence of British Prime Minister in memory by the anniversary of the end of the war".
In the 2012 G-20 Mexico summit, the British Prime Minister David Cameron approached the president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Argentina while working on a bench. He thanked President Argentina to support the creation of a Unified European Bank as lender of last resort. Cristina started talking about the versions "pessimistic" that the press offered on the outcome of the G20 summit, when the prime minister interrupted to bring up the Falklands. He asked Argentina to respect the referendum to which the islanders called for next year. It was then, when Cristina tried to hand the envelope with the UN resolutions that Cameron rejected. British Prime Minister said:
"I am not proposing a full discussion of the Falklands (sic) now, but I hope you have noticed that they (the islanders) will be a referendum, and you should respect their views. We believe in self-determination and to act as democracies we here at the G-20".
The Argentina President he replied:
"What really must be respected are the forty resolutions of the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations". Cristina also has made it clear that this was not the place to talk about the Falklands, but it was the week before in the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations.
British Prime Minister said however that "not going to talk about sovereignty", refused to receive the envelope and left the area.
Iraq and the War on terror
Before becoming leader, he voted in favor of the Iraq War, confirming this stance during an interview on the British TV show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. In defense of the Iraq situation, he stated, "You've got to do what you think is right even if it's unpopular, that's the only thing you can do". Subsequently he supported a motion brought by the SNP and Plaid Cymru on 31 October 2006, calling for an inquiry into the government's conduct of the Iraq war. This was after the government informed the Conservatives that an inquiry would not be accepted in 2007, the initial policy call of the party. The motion was defeated by a margin 25 votes, 273 MPs voting in favor and 298 against. He was criticized for this in editorials in The Sun and The Times newspapers. He was also criticized by some Conservative MPs who claimed it was irresponsible to support an inquiry while British troops were still involved.
Cameron supports the War on Terror. He has praised it for the removal of "two of the world's most repressive regimes", Libya's abandonment of nuclear weapons procurement, and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. He has argued "it must be a battle of hearts and minds, as well as force" and that "the threat cannot be negotiated away or appeased - it has to be confronted and overcome".
Immediately after his election as leader, he restated his pledge to withdraw the party's MEPs from cooperation with the European People's Party (EPP) within the European Parliament, viewing the EPP as excessively federalist. The British Conservative Party is part of the anti-federalist European Democrats, a sub-group of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, but Cameron plans for the ED to break away in order to form a new, independent grouping. Cameron aims to set up a group more focused on the Conservative Party's views, a move that has been resisted by some Conservative MEPs and all mainstream Conservative member-parties of the EPP. After much speculation, he announced in July 2006 that Conservative MEPs would withdraw from the EPP in 2009. The stated reason for the delay was that the Conservatives' proposed future alliance partners, the Czech Civic Democratic Party, needed time to form a new domestic coalition in order to form a "eurorealist" grouping in the European Parliament.
Cameron is currently against unilaterally withdrawing from the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy, as some on the Conservative Right have proposed. In fact Mr. Cameron's very first policy change as leader was to scrap the party's pledge to withdraw from Common Fisheries Policy as his legal aides advised him it would mean complete withdrawal from the EU would be necessary to facilitate this.
Cameron is a Unionist although he supports devolution, admitting that the Conservatives, "fought against the idea of a Scottish Parliament long after it became clear that it was the settled will of the people." He has also defended the Barnett formula as "Other areas within the UK are subsidized more than Scotland is." He also believes "unionists have to develop better arguments against independence", and that "the case for the Union isn't just economic." Cameron has stated that he wants to address anti-Scottishness in England, "Scotland has certainly not been an occupied or oppressed country these past three hundred years but I recognize that it has not all been a triumphal procession either", and that, "the ignorance of English people about Scots and Scotland", has sometimes meant that Scotland does not get "the respect it deserves."
On the West Lothian question, he has criticized the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on English matters, "We need to make devolution work... one part of devolution that doesn't work is that Scottish MPs can vote on matters that don't affect their own constituents", and has asked the party's Commission on Democracy, led by Kenneth Clarke, to look at possible solutions.
Cameron has announced that he would scrap the Human Rights Act 1998 which came into force in 2000. Instead, it would be replaced with a Bill of Rights, based on "British needs and traditions". However, he has said that the country would remain a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, upon which the Human Rights Act is based.
He has also called for investigations into ministerial misconduct to be a "genuinely independent mechanism" after cabinet minister Tessa Jowell's husband was part of an alleged fraud inquiry. Additionally, in order to "clean up", he says ministers should not be allowed to set their expenses or salaries. Cameron has also called for a reduction in the number of Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Cameron declared on 26 May 2009 that his party does not support the AV+ system, or any other form of proportional representation, as it would create "weak governments". However, he pledged to hold a referendum on changing the method of electing MPs from First Past the Post to Alternative Vote upon forming government in 2010.
As part of the Conservative No Campaign in the lead up to the referendum, he claimed, that AV would unfairly allow supporters of unpopular parties more votes than supporters of popular ones, thereby undermining the fundamental principle of 1 Person 1 Vote.
Criticism of other parties and politicians
Upon his election as leader of the Conservative Party, Cameron declared that he was "fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing."
However, in a war of words with the United Kingdom Independence Party, Cameron accused its members of being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly," leading UKIP leader Nigel Farage to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink also criticized the remarks, as did The Daily Telegraph.
Cameron has also criticized ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time) for being "an analogue politician in a digital age" and repeatedly refers to him as "the roadblock to reform". He has also said that John Prescott "clearly looks a fool" in light of allegations of ministerial misconduct. During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006 Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, as an "ageing far left politician" in reference to Livingstone's views on multiculturalism.
However, Cameron encouraged Conservative MPs to join the unprecedented standing ovation to Tony Blair at the end of his last Prime Minister's Question Time; he had paid tribute to the "huge efforts" Blair had made and said Blair had "considerable achievements to his credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland or his work in the developing world, which will endure".
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