Perhaps the nature of coalition government inevitably necessitates a degree of compromise on the vision originally promised to the people at election time. Yet this alone hardly explains the way in which David Cameron's government is not only not moving forward in the direction it claimed to believe in but if anything is moving backwards.
Contrast just about any issue that the Conservatives spoke about back in May 2010 with the reality today and it appears as if the precise opposite has been implemented. Central to Cameron's strategy for Britain was the commendable pledge to cut the national debt by cutting the wasteful public spending of the previous Labour government. Yet the Cameron government has consistently cowered away from making the necessary cuts and proved incapable of forcing public services to make themselves cost efficient. As a result the government finances are hemorrhaging public money at an alarming rate with our national debt scheduled to rise from £950 billion to £1.4 trillion by 2015.
This is hardly surprising, public spending is going up and not down. While Labour berates the Conservatives for making excessive cuts, this is in reality a fiction, nothing but a fantasy dreamt up by the two Eds and their spending happy party. In reality Cameron's government has increased annual public spending from the already eye wateringly high £660 billion figure that it was in the last year of the Brown government and will be taking it up to £703 billion for this financial year.
Public spending has in part increased because of the growing burden of welfare. True to form the Conservatives are failing on their pledge to cut welfare costs and to incentivise employment over benefit dependency. The increase in the bill for welfare has in part been contributed to by the growing numbers claiming unemployment allowance. The number of young people who are out of work has now hit the 1.2 million figure with the increase soaring by 12% in the last quarter of 2011.
Yet at the same time it is also true that more jobs are being created and more people are indeed filling these positions. This then is a troubling paradox; how is it that more jobs are being created and yet the level of unemployment among Britain's population continues to rise?
The answer can be found in yet another of Cameron's broken promises. Far from getting immigration 'down to tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands' as the Conservative sound bite goes, immigration has continued to rise reaching the highest recorded levels of net migration this year. Indeed, in 2011 alone 591,000 people will have come to Britain and it is only natural that migrants will seek the same jobs as less qualified and less experienced school leavers.
A glance over the figures demonstrates clearly that following Labour taking office in 1997, immigration figures rocketed disconcertingly and have consistently remained just below 600,000 annually since 2004. Instead of taking immigration figures back to the 300,000 mark that they had been under the previous Conservative government, the Cameron government has allowed the trend set under Labour to simply continue.
Consistently, David Cameron's government has shown itself to be lacking what might be considered a truly conservative character. It has often proved to be far from socially conservative on moral issues but it has also completely lacked a conservative attitude to defence and foreign policy.
In opposition Cameron had advertised himself as a self-assured Eurosceptic. Yet a year ago, when the European Union demanded an increase in British contributions to Brussels' already bloated budget, the best Cameron could manage was a slight reduction on the still rising bill that Britain would pay; a failing that sits in stark contrast to the huge rebate that Margaret Thatcher was able to win from the community during her first year in office but then increasingly it looks as if we got a Heath when some of us were hoping for a Thatcher.
Indeed, Cameron has been far from Thatcherite on Europe, completely failing to capitalise on the crisis in the Eurozone as an opportunity to renegotiate a power structure currently weighted against British interests. Instead the Cameron Government has failed to free Britain from unpopular European Human Rights laws, stumped up the cash for bailing out Ireland and Portugal and gave little more than a murmur when earlier this year the European Commission demanded that British contributions increase yet again, this time to over £10 billion annually.
Nor is Europe the only foreign policy area in which the government has failed to take a truly conservative stance. On a wide variety of international matters the Cameron government has proved weak and directionless. For while public spending overall has increased, the Cameron government did not appear to have any major qualms when it came to cutting funding to our armed forces, significantly reducing the size of our manpower and weaponry. In doing so, the Conservative government has jeopardised Britain's ability to pursue its interests in the world and to continue to punch above its weight on the international stage, something that at least the Blair government was committed to when intervening to prevent genocides in the Balkans and Sierra Leone.
This prospect of retreat from the international arena has done nothing to preserve a formerly solid alliance with America. Rather, it is the Australian-US friendship that is blossoming as the US looks for reliable allies. Meanwhile Cameron has done precious little to cement relations with America and the worlds English speaking democracies at a time when Prime Minister Harper of Canada and the Gillard administration in Australia have both shown a committed interest in defending Western values internationally. Instead, Cameron has travelled to ever unreliable Pakistan and increasingly hardline Turkey where he attempted to appease the ruling regimes by criticising their democratic and pro-Western foes, India and Israel respectively.
Cameron's programme of 'modernising' the party was supposed to be a kind of faustian pact whereby Conservatives abandoned their beliefs on the promise that they would become electable, that they would be the new New Labour and Cameron the new Blair. This has proved untrue and now the Conservatives find themselves in an unhappy coalition with the likes of Mingus Campbell and voters find themselves without a truly conservative option to vote for. We can only hope that backbenchers and party activists will lead the march back to the core values at some point in the future.