Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

One-nation Toryism Sir: When my late father, John McKee, stood as Conservative candidate for South Shields in the 1970 general election he gained 19,960 votes, more even than David Miliband in the same constituency 40 years later. In last week's by-election in the South Shields constituency, the Conservative candidate attracted only 2,857 votes. Many things have changed since 1970 but one important thing that is different is that in those days the local Conservative party had a large number of working-class members helping in the campaign; there was even a flourishing Conservative Trade Union organisation in the constituency. Nor was South Shields unique in this respect.

Conservative Members of Parliament were elected in several industrial areas including Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland.

Nearly all this working-class support has disappeared and the Conservative party appears to have given up on Scotland and most of northern England. If it wishes to reverse this trend, it needs to rediscover the 'one-nation' Toryism which served the party so well in the days before what is loosely termed Thatcherism polarised the nation.

When Harold Macmillan stated, back in 1957, 'most of our people have never had it so good', he was criticised for unseemly self-satisfaction but not for the veracity of the statement. In recent history there have been, no doubt, some who have never had it so good, but no politician today would attempt to make such an incendiary statement to the population at large. Conservatives will never regain full political power until the party represents again all geographical areas of the country and the needs and aspirations of a much broader swath of the British population.

Tebbit's view Sir: I have been considering Norman Tebbit's and others' recently expressed views concerning the Conservative party's need to shift Tory party policy rightward in view of the number of disaffected Tories voting for Ukip. This seems to me to betray a startling lack of consistency. When disaffected Conservatives were voting for the SDP/Liberal Alliance in much larger numbers in the early 1980s, I do not seem to remember Mr Tebbit and his friends urging a leftward shift in policy to respond to such loss of support. Very odd.

(Dr) Ian McKee Edinburgh Dr John Hyder-Wilson Worthing, West Sussex Letters are best Sir: Molly Guinness ('Thanks but no thanks', 4 May) is very wide of the mark if she thinks the use of email prevents cliche and banality. Her assertion that 'Platitudes by post are not worth the stamp' is nonsense. Perhaps if she had taken up a pencil and a sheet of paper to draft her short article instead of dashing it off on her computer, she may have avoided such nonsense as to suggest that a simple thank-you letter can invoke 'anxiety and resentment on a scale sufficient to cause the sender to be psychologically crippled under the burden of his own gratitude'. …

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