Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
2 October 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:12am

Cameron, the Tea Party and a little backbench problem

Not all Tories lament the rise of the American right.

By Jon Bernstein

As Benedict Brogan of the Telegraph notes this morning, David Cameron has chosen to distance himself from the rightward march of US conservatism. In an interview with historian Simon Schama in today’s FT magazine, Cameron suggests that the British and American right have “drifted apart”. Here’s the exchange in full, starting with Schama’s narrative:

Later, I would ask him what he thinks of American conservatism’s lurch to the libertarian extreme. “How shall I put this? We seem to have drifted apart … there is an element of American conservatism that is headed in a very culture war direction, which is just different. There are differences with the American right.”

There’s little reason — deficit hawkery aside — to doubt that Cameron’s brand of social conservatism is some way from the Tea Party. But it’s worth noting that not all on the Tory backbenches share his distaste.

My colleague Sophie Elmhirst spoke to two of them for this week’s magazine. And this is what they had to say.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

First Louise Bagshawe, the newly-elected MP for Corby, on how she identifies with Sarah Palin’s socially conservative agenda:

Content from our partners
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping
Why digital inclusion is a vital piece of levelling up

Like some of her American sisters, Bagshawe is also anti-abortion. “I’ve never had a problem with being pro-life and a feminist,” she says. “I don’t consider them to be at all incompatible.” She reveals that she is a member of a prominent US pro-life lobby group, Feminists For Life.

Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, refers approvingly to the Tea Party’s Christine O’Donnell recent victory in the Delaware primary:

Dorries says she has been inspired by recent events in the US – the primary victories of O’Donnell and others. With a new government in place, she senses a “wind of change” in the political atmosphere in Britain. In the last parliament, she says, it was “very difficult to talk about the family unit, and to talk about mothers and children . . . as the foundation of society, because it was seen as a very unsexy, untrendy thing to do and the opposite of what a woman should be doing”. Given the sympathetic political climate, she sees an opportunity to mobilise a perceived constituency of ignored, stay-at-home mothers. “I think it’s time somebody started to represent those mums,” she says.

Incidently, James Forsyth is worth a read over at Coffee House on the paradox of a “non-ideological” Cameron leading “a highly ideological government”.