Over in the UK something rather remarkable happened today. The 250,000 members of the Conservative Party, a largely aging group of upper middle class and establishment types, recognized that the reputation of their party needed an overhaul and duly elected David Cameron as their new leader.
While the election of a new Conservative Party leader has become a regular fixture in British politics since Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, Cameron’s election represents more than just another chapter in the leadership merry-go-round. For 26 years the Tories (as the Conservatives are commonly known) had just two leaders, Cameron however will now be the fifth man in eight years that Blair has faced in the House of Commons.
So what’s the fuss? Why is this man different? On paper Cameron represents everything the Tories are trying to get away from, he is a well spoken, Eton educated establishment man. Cameron’s opponent, David Davis grew up in a single parent household on a tough estate and has many years of Parliamentary experience under his belt. While many respect and admire Davis, it is Cameron, the young telegenic communicator that has galvanized the imagination of the party. Moreover, Cameron and his team have learnt the lessons of Blair’s successful media management.
Tony Blair’s rebranding of the Labor Party into New Labor propelled the party to three electoral victories, now, with David Cameron at the helm, the Tories have a similar opportunity for success. As for Cameron’s critics who claim he is all style and no substance, well, only time will tell, but even if that is true, perhaps style is all that matters anyway?
Hat tip to Carl Foster in Peppercom’s UK office for his thoughts.