Gordon Brown Resigns, David Cameron Becomes Prime Minister
As seemed inevitable when James wrote his post, David Cameron has become the new Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Conservative leader David Cameron is the new UK prime minister after the resignation of Gordon Brown.
Mr Cameron, 43, is in Downing Street after travelling to Buckingham Palace to formally accept the Queen’s request to form the next government.
He said he aimed to form a “proper and full coalition” with the Lib Dems to provide “strong, stable government”.
His party won the most seats in the UK general election last week, but not an overall majority.
In a speech at Downing Street, Mr Cameron said he and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg would “put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and the national interest”.
He paid tribute to outgoing PM Gordon Brown for his long years of public service and said he would tackle Britain’s “pressing problems” – the deficit, social problems and reforming the political system.
Mr Cameron stressed there would be “difficult decisions” but said he wanted to take people through them to reach “better times ahead”.
The Conservatives have been in days of negotiations with the Lib Dems – who were also negotiating with Labour – after the UK election resulted in a hung parliament.
But the Lib Dems said talks with Labour failed because “the Labour Party never took seriously the prospects of forming a progressive, reforming government”.
The deal with the Lib Dems apparently still have to receive final approval from Lib Dem leadership, but that seems to be a mere formality at this point, the deal is done.
Already, though, there are grumblings of discontent in some Tory circles:
The worst thing about this whole process, other than the wholesale abandonment of principle by Cameron, has been the political inadequacy it reveals. Had he simply, when the results were known, said that he would not offer Clegg a coalition, the lib Dem leader would have had no choice but to take such slight terms as Brown and labour might have felt like offering him. And as and when those fell through, he would have been obliged to come back to Cameron and accept whatever terms the Tory leader was prepared to offer. As it is, solely to serve his own ambition, David Cameron had sold out the Tory party and everything it has historically stood for in order to get himself into Downing Street.
As one last telling detail, while Nick Clegg is now formally consulting his party membership, David Cameron hasn’t and won’t ask Tory members for their support. There’s a very good reason why he won’t.
Which means that Cameron’s biggest problem may come not from the Liberal Democrats, but from his own party:
A deeper trouble lies within Cameron’s own party. He may think coalition is the great disciplinarian. But over the past quarter century the party has been stripped to its hard core. Gone is the wide church of two to three million members, Young Tories and policy-making groups that underpinned electoral success in the 1950s and 1960s. Thatcher and her successors drove away milder Conservatives who might now see Liberal Democrats as tolerable bedfellows. The party backbone is composed of hard-nosed men and women with whom Cameron regularly crosses swords at constituency meetings, implacable on Europe and immigration, fierce on hunting and crime.
These Conservatives have spent this week rushing to the Tory blogs to demand that Cameron stay in opposition. In their view he should have allowed Brown to drive Labour yet deeper in the mire of illegitimacy. They see opposition as strength, from which to slay the wounded Labour carthorse for good and all at the next election.
For these party members, Cameron is already suspect. He did not win the expected election victory and has consorted “in flagrante” with despised Liberal Democrats. He is not on top, but on probation. He may have presented himself as well-groomed, decent and personable. But many of the party faithful prefer leaders who win elections by eating barbed wire for breakfast.
Sound familiar ?
I don’t think that it usually makes sense to draw analogies between U.S. and British politics, but if Cameron ends up being taken down in the end by the hard-liners in his own party, it’s likely to look a lot like what’s going on in the Republican Party today.
So, the big question is, how long does this coalition last ? My guess, is no more than a year.