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Conservative Careerism in Rwanda

17 December 2009

Just stumbled upon this Independent article about Cameron’s ‘development’ project in Rwanda. Compassionate Conservatism or a chance for self promotion?

Here are some extracts:

“…Handily, it can also benefit the political careers of the volunteers.

Our group included Andrew Mitchell, the shadow International Development Secretary, Nick Hurd, shadow Minister for Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering, and Desmond Swayne, Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Cameron.

The volunteers seized their chance to access this Westminster bubble and capitalise on the political acumen available thousands of miles from the pressures of home.

As one floppy-haired volunteer working on the private sector project remarked: “I’m here to make contacts, to network. I’m using it as an opportunity to get closer to people who can help my company.”

The number of potential and actual parliamentary candidates on the trip meant it was hardly surprising that deals were struck over dinner, and the conversation rarely strayed from politics – primarily British, rather than Rwandan. Several possible parliamentary candidates were open about their hopes that the trip would help them to boost their political profiles, both within the party and with the electorate.

One candidate had even brought a stack of autographed photographs of himself to Rwanda, perhaps forgetting that he wasn’t yet campaigning.

…Heading the Umubano organisational team was Jessica Lever, a 22-year-old political researcher who in 2004 became the youngest woman to address a Tory party conference. The great niece of the economist Milton Friedman, she cited Margaret Thatcher as one of her heroines and vowed to fight for the freedom of the individual. There were many like her on the trip whose messianic zeal for the party belied their tender years…

…Compassionate conservatism was displayed by many, but self-promotion was important to a few. It remains to be seen which will triumph in the wider realms of the Conservative Party.”

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