Magazine article The Spectator

This Ain't No Cure for Summertime Blues

Magazine article The Spectator

This Ain't No Cure for Summertime Blues

Article excerpt

A BLUE TOMORROW edited by Edward Vaizey, Nicholas Boles and Michael Gove Politico's L9.99, pp. 227, ISBN 1842750275

I have to confess that I opened A Blue Tomorrow, a book of essays by younger Conservatives, with a good deal of foreboding. Indeed there is much predictable stuff about style wars, social liberalism, Section 28 and, above all, the need for opinion polls.

One wonders at this obsession with opinion polls. It is not as if the Conservative party in recent years has been other than obsessed already. These advocates of ever more opinion polls tend to quote them when they support their own social liberal opinions. In reality if policy were determined by opinion polls the Conservative party would have a platform of restoring capital punishment, withdrawing from Europe, retaining Section 28, repatriating asylum seekers and stopping all privatisation.

We are told that opinion polls are `the difference between knowing and guessing'. There is no room for 'believing'. It all reads like a lot of young men, affronted by a Conservative party out of office, and desperate to get jobs as special advisers in Whitehall. There is no sense that a party exists as a collective vehicle to sustain and fight for certain beliefs.

In recent years the Conservative party has attracted refugees from the SDP who do not understand the party. Such people were drawn by Mrs Thatcher's radicalism without seeing that, brilliant as she was, she was also a historical aberration. The new radicals argue that the emphasis upon freedom and the individual should be carried forward from the economic sphere into the social. Mrs Thatcher herself, of course, never thought like this, even though on matters of sexual morality she is never remotely censorious.

The Conservative party is not a libertarian party and no one with any sense of history could believe it ever could be. It should be a civilised and tolerant party. But, as its name implies, it is about tradition, authority, evolutionary change, established institutions, the nation state and the countryside - on which, needless to say, there is no chapter in this book.

For a long time the Conservative party has had an easy ride, benefiting from the fear of socialism. Mrs Thatcher destroyed socialism but in so doing removed the motive of many to vote Conservative.

That is the central problem. We can no longer rely on an automatic vote. …

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