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David Cameron led Conservatives to power by moving to the center

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But part of Cameron's success is also tied to the extent to which, on social questions, the right and center of the British electorate has drifted ever closer to European values and away from the US. Cameron, for instance, told a gay magazine in the past year that Jesus Christ would back gay rights if he were alive today, something that would probably be electoral poison for the Republican base in the US today.

At the heart of Cameron’s modernizing project within his own party – an echo of Tony Blair's and others' rebranding of the Labour Party as "New Labour" in the 1990s – was accepting that elections are won and lost on the center ground.

In particular, stress was placed on preserving Britain’s totemic National Health Service (NHS) and its budget in an attempt to neutralize fears that the most cherished component of the welfare would be at risk if the Conservatives came to power.

Changing face

The largely white, heterosexual male face of the Conservative Party was also transformed. More women and ethnic minorities were added to the party's electoral slate, and uneven progress was made in reaching out to gay constituents.

Seeking to overturn a traditional left-right paradigm, the party also pitched itself as the champion of green issues, unveiling eye-catching environmental policies such as green taxes and other measures designed to create a low-carbon economy. Cameron made high-profile visits to glaciers threatened by climate change while the party logo was changed from a blue torch to an oak tree incorporating the party's traditional blue and a new color, "Conservative Green."

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