On 12 May 2010, in the sunlit rose garden of No 10, David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced the creation of Britain’s new coalition government. In a flawlessly stage-managed performance , Cameron proclaimed the birth of a “new politics”. His coalition government would, he said, be underpinned by the principles of “freedom, fairness and responsibility”. The coalition agreement that was hashed out in the days before the rose garden show was a strange magna carta. Cameron’s ambition was no less than to abolish the postwar welfare state itself. The Office of Budget Responsibility recently announced Cameron’s victory – by 2018, it forecast, we would have a state the size it was in the 1930s. This was a coup, though Cameron, unlike Thatcher, would never triumphantly produce from his pocket... the swivel-eyed stuff was left to backroom guru Oliver Letwin, former special adviser to Keith Joseph, the man who said Conservatives should no longer conserve but instead demolish all that stopped the flowering of individualism. Cameron was guided by the groupthink of his generation of young Tories, inspired by the Thatcher posters on their college walls.
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