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October 18, 2009

Comments

Alex

Well, Blaney reckons he's been chosen to create a Christian Right lobby in the UK.

But beyond that, I think the whole Tory shtick of having no ideology is a bit like the line that the Devil's best trick was persuading us that he doesn't exist. They've had several, from Church'n'King wrapped around slaver mercantilism, the whole Villa Tory thing (classical liberalism + I've got the foreman's job at last), One Nation (basically, watered down gaullism), and then Thatcherism. At each step, the ideology was very, very important.

It's just that they do change, and that pretending to have no ideology plays well. Ask Blair, Bush, or Berlusconi.

Splintered Sunrise

You haven't read True Blue? It's very good, and, anecdotes about Boris' Uganda connection aside, has some interesting thoughts on the state of the Tories. It works well as a portrait of the grassroots, but that leaves open the question of what exactly the Cameron Tories are about. Opportunist freeloaders aside, Dave's inner circle doesn't seem to contain much more than ten people.

It's maybe a bit like the IRA in the 70s. In theory you had this supreme leadership that was directing the campaign, but in practice the campaign often boiled down to all these wee mad militarists running about with their own private projects. So you might have the socially aware Blue Labour types, then you have these wingnuts who want to build a Ron Paul movement in Britain only without Ron Paul, and lord only knows where someone like Louise Bagshawe fits in. Maybe her next chicklit novel will be on the travails of a glamorous Tory MP.

Richard J

The last year or so of Boris' administration suggests that the current Tory power structure is very much (as it always has been, I suppose) a marriage of convenience until power is obtained.

It's going to be an almighty first year or so of knifings, backbiting and vicious turf wars, isn't it? Damnation.

Alex

It's going to be an almighty first year or so of knifings, backbiting and vicious turf wars, isn't it? Damnation.

*popcorn*

Actually, what this reminds me of is the French right; not really a coherent party structure but a group of major personalities and interest blocks. And they've had the presidency since 1995.

Richard J

There is another right-wing party that was a collection of squabbling power blocs that comes to mind, but let's not Godwinise unnecessarily...

(I agree re: popcorn, but really, there's better times to have a big family row, given the current state we're in. Mind, if it puts the hold on George Osborne doing something very silly, this is probably for the best.)

twitter.com/BorisWatch

"There is another right-wing party that was a collection of squabbling power blocs that comes to mind, but let's not Godwinise unnecessarily..."

Would that be the one that condemned the outrageous waste of public money on vanity infrastructure projects before realising the propaganda value of opening something new and shiny for the cameras once in office? Unlike these gents?

http://twitpic.com/jl52b

The first section of autobahn was opened by Konrad Adenauer.

redpesto

"There is another right-wing party that was a collection of squabbling power blocs that comes to mind, but let's not Godwinise unnecessarily..."

Godwin? I was expecting the inevitable 'New Labour' punchline re. Brown v Blair.

Richard J

Really? There were personality cliques, sure, but the central core was united round a fairly-well defined and clear set of principles (albeit not much more detailed than: like John Major's Tories, only not them, but cuddlier.) The left-wing had been marginalised quite effectively, and were locked out from the start. The Tories now seem so much more fractured in terms of fundamental policies and attitudes.

redpesto

Richard J - you're right re. the Blair/Brown 'personality cliques' (it really took Brown's accession - and the lack of change which followed - to expose this fully). As for the Tories, the fallout from 'Back to Basics' neatly exposed many of the faultlines (as did Widdecombe's 'Zero Tolerance on Drugs' speech, which only succeeded in outing half the shadow cabinet as (ex-)spliffheads).

twitter.com/BorisWatch

"The left-wing had been marginalised quite effectively, and were locked out from the start"

This is just it, if, in the days running up to May 1997 Blair was repeatedly forced to throw titbits to the hard left (who at the time were going on Radio Cuba denouncing the rotten British capitalist state and demanding hard-core command-and-control socialism and an alliance with revolutionary Stalinists in the European parliament), we'd have been wondering whether they were united and fit for government. Why is Cameron having to pander to these people?

Replace 'hard left' with 'Dan Hannan'.

ejh

I suspect that pickings will be rich enough (and their majority enough) to keep them together for a fair long while. The majority is likely to be bigger and their divisions no larger than was the case in 1979.

Dan Hardie

Electorally, I don't think it's too different from 1979 at all. Margaret Thatcher's first Chancellor pursued a deflationary policy which flew in the face of basic sanity, as Dave's pal George is likely to do. Most of the first Thatcher Cabinet despised their Prime Minister, and so did a lot of the backbenchers; by 1981 Thatcher had the worst poll numbers of any PM on record. And then, she was saved.

Not, in my opinion, by the Falklands war, but by the implosion of the Labour party, the creation of the SDP, and the recovery of the economy to the point where just over 40% of the electorate felt things were doing rather nicely, thank you. Tory support was solid in the South and much of the Midlands, and these happen to be the places where most of us live. I wouldn't bet against roughly the same happening again, and I'm betting Dave feels the same way.

In policy terms, things might be very different, which I think is Jamie's worry. There were plenty of competent Tories who disliked some or many of Thatcher's beliefs, but took Ministerial office under her and managed to chuck some of her pet projects out and make others work (for a while, for a certain definition of 'work).

What might be different for Dave is that there simply aren't that many competent people around him, and furthermore his various stunts (the Dannatt one is particularly appalling) indicate that he himself has done very little serious thinking about government. Which could never actually be said about Thatcher: loathe her or detest her, it wasn't an accident that she was the first PM since Attlee to push through some really fundamental changes.

ajay

Dan, that's a good analysis generally, but I'd disagree on what saved Thatcher. The SDP came along in 1981, and - as part of the Alliance - was actually well ahead of the Conservatives and Labour, polling over 50% of the electorate; "Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government" wasn't unrealistic advice for the Liberals at their 1981 conference. Up to the Falklands, the Alliance was the most popular party in Britain. Even in 1983 they were still not far behind Labour in terms of votes. And the Conservatives didn't take any seats away from them - they gained 23 and didn't lose a single seat.

The economy plus the Falklands, I'd say.

Igor Belanov

If the polls of the time are any indication, then the Falklands did make a difference- Labour support was still higher than Tory in the polls even after the SDP has broken away. The economic benefit to the Tories really started to mount in the mid 1980's, reaching its peak in the credit-fuelled 'Loadsamoney' years.

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