Magazine article The Spectator

The Problem, Not the Solution

Magazine article The Spectator

The Problem, Not the Solution

Article excerpt

The last thing we need now is a Tory recovery. Proper conservatives should dread such a thing as much as Labour's serious faction dreaded victory in the March 1983 Darlington by-election. They longed for the most crushing defeat possible, because it would have provided the pretext for a well-planned putsch against the doomed romantic party leader Michael Foot, chosen in an emotional spasm in 1980. But, to their fury and dismay, Labour won in Darlington. Michael Foot was saved and duly led his movement to ruin, with some dignity, a few months later.

Just as I said a year ago in an article for this magazine which has never been rebutted, let alone refuted, by any Conservative thinker, the Tory party is now a trainwreck, not a train, an obstacle to the cause it pretends to serve. The reasons are both mathematical and political. Only an unimaginable miracle could give it a parliamentary majority ever again. If it achieved such a position, it would in any case fail to pursue conservative aims in foreign, economic, social or cultural policy. It cannot agree on any such aims because its different wings hate and despise each other. Ice and steam can compromise, it is true, but the result is just a tepid wetness. Its collapse and disintegration are essential, so that this country's civilised people understand the urgent need to form a new political instrument which can defeat the anti-British, anti-marriage, intolerant, multicultural, amoral rabble of New Labour and which would use its victory to some purpose.

I set out this position just before the sordid manoeuvre that placed Michael Howard at the head of the party. A change of leadership, as I predicted then, has done nothing for the party's popularity or ability to win an election, and still less for the great causes of national independence and liberty, justice, order, honesty in public life, rigorous education and the rest.

In fact it was interesting to watch several prominent liberal-Left commentators keenly seeking a Howard takeover. Such people do not love Mr Howard any more than they used to. They were worried - rightly that a final collapse of the Tory party would bring down the whole existing party system. With the Tories gone, Labour's equally decrepit and unworkable coalition would lose all discipline. Without the bogey of a mythical return to Thatcherism', what on earth would hold New Labour together? They make Yugoslavia look harmonious. The eclectic Liberal Democrats would be compelled to take real positions on real issues. Neither of these parties could cope with the shock. Britain, almost alone in Europe in having the same party balance it had before the end of the Cold War, would have undergone the political convulsion it so badly needs. Many good people, now trapped in movements they loathe, would once again be free to think and speak their minds.

The liberal commentariat dread such an outcome. They want to preserve a political system which they understand and which generally serves the Fabian socialist worldview which they formed in the universities of the late 1960s and early 1970s - and have never bothered to re-examine. Instinctively, they recognise that a true realignment in the post-Gorbachev world would threaten the dominance of their ideas. They complain about the low turnout at elections, they see the traditional parties shrivelling, they observe the growth of new movements and the extraordinary results of by-elections and opinion polls, but they do not recognise what this means - that the major parties at Westminster no longer speak for the major currents of thought in the country outside. …

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