Cameron fucks it
Alan pre-empted my post for the day (see comments below).
David Cameron has announced Conservative Co-operativism. What might occur to him as a cunning technique to soak a few Lib-Dem and soft left voters into his camp, could well, in my opinion, become a catastrophic ideological hammer blow to conservatism.
Without the harumphing press releases and comments of Co-operaors - which are undoubtedly accurate, this lurch by Cameron has the possibility of being a massive own goal.
The point at which co-operativism and socialism meet is - if you will forgive a touch of jargon - the subordination of exchange value to use value. Co-operation is defining a social need and sharing the cost to ensure it happens. It is opposed to the profit motive which sees the use value of money as being its capacity to create more exchange value. It opposes private ownership - and as such it operates against the market in capital and thus against capitalism.
Cameron is right that there have always been conservative critics of the market. Look at the names he drops - Burke (a liberal) who is remembered in history, despite his writings on aesthetics and oranic society - for his swinish multitude comment (that the electorate, to you, Dave). Carlyle, a racist who objected to the sole connexion between man and man being cash - he wanted a genuine master servant relationship instead of the rebelious proles and they capacity to strike and quit their jobs.
See, Cameron is mistaken, there is a conservative counter-point to co-operatives - it's called charity. That does not interfere with private property, indeed, it makes a virtue of the accumulation of private property by converting the avarice of one (almost always) man into the figure of the philanthropist. Not common effort and mutual values, but private property being directed towards the ills caused by private property.
Cameron has either exposed himself as ignorant, or foolish. If the idea of co-operation grows it will harm his natural constituency. Of course, it is probably a cunning ruse to introduce, eventually, school vouchers and private health care, but it could also open the door to real co-operative values, and move the centre from its current point even further to the left.
Perhaps not a cigarette paper moement, more a great ruddy wedge.