David Cameron Isn't Foreign

So David Cameron will be the new British prime minister.

It is almost impossible for an American to satisfactorily parse the differences that separate Britain's major party candidates. In American terms, Britain's three contenders are all Democrats--more progressive than middle of the road, even.

The clearest ideological shadow that can be laid on them seems to be the extent to which they might recall the past, even though they have disavowed it. So the suggestion has been that Gordon Brown really, truly, deep in his heart of hearts, still held a sentimental candle for socialism and hard-core trade unionism, and that David Cameron is really just a scornful, landed-gentry, old-school-boy type.

The contest appeared to be, at least from my American view, how plausibly reconstructed each candidate could make himself seem--how modern. How free of the past.

In my interview with Cameron in January he seemed, actually, very much from a different, rather long ago, time and place. It was not just his language but the fact that he had to work so hard to evoke modern things. The discussion we had about California was out of this world. Cameron was the Martian who'd been told that the California style was what he had to embrace (however awkwardly). But, equally, Gordon Brown--so sour, uncomfortable, fuming--has seemed also from another planet, one far from our media world. Indeed, in the contest for the most modern face, it was surely Cameron over Brown--with a brief surge by the Lib Dem candidate, Nick Clegg, who seemed perhaps the most modern, albeit, it turned out, still improbable.

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