Tory Road to Salvation Could Be the Texan Way; There Are Already Echoes of Texas Governor George W Bush in Mr Hague's Rhetoric, Says Chief Feature Writer Jason Beattie
Those intent on writing the obituary of the Conservative Party may wish to dwell on a right-wing success story before they put pen to paper.
The cause for hope can be found in the State of Texas where Governor George W Bush has been re-elected as the Republican Governor on a ticket which espouses "compassionate conservatism."
George Bush Jnr's victory, which has been seen as a set-back for far-right Republicans, has been portrayed as a vindication for his policies of gentler, caring conservatism.
In his inaugural address in January of this year, Bush, speaking in both Spanish and English, spoke of his faith in traditional Texan values.
The speech combined a respect for traditional right-wing values, ("Our economy will be strong, so long as we pursue free markets, free trade, low taxes and limited government,") with a new emphasis on social responsibility, ("Texas should be based not just on prosperity but on the values that make prosperity worthwhile.")
Mr Bush spoke of the three challenges which Texans faced, to be an open society, to be an educated society and to unify the diverse state through common values.
"We are a diverse state. In the near future, there will be no majority racial group in Texas. Children enrolled in Houston's schools speak 63 different languages.
"Our diversity gives Texas new life, new energy, new blood and we should not fear it but welcome it," he said.
Yesterday Britain's Conservative leader William Hague flew out to the United States for a week's visit which will include a meeting with Bush Jnr.
The trip is seen as an opportunity to learn from the Texas success in the same way that Blair so successfully shared electioneering techniques from the Clinton team.
Blair took the Clinton tactic of soundbites and slick campaign skills and used them with remarkable effect at the last election.
As one Tory MP said: "Language, not policies, is the key. It is language which shapes views rather than the specifics of policies.
"This has to be coupled with presentation. We lost the last election not because of our policies but because of our unattractive personality."
There are already echoes of Bush's "exclusive" politics - "Together We Can" is one of his slogans - in Mr Hague's rhetoric.
For Texan Values read the "British Way" both of which place emphasis on traditional values coupled with a modern approach to a more liberal society.
The British Conservative Party, as Portillo was one of the first to appreciate, had failed to acknowledge the changes in British mores.
It may have been in charge for the majority of the 1990s but it showed no understanding of the huge social shifts taking place in the country it was governing.
The public was more tolerant of homosexuality, multi-racial society, sexual freedom and equal rights for women but the Major administration was perceived, rightly or wrongly, as being opposed to these changes.
Part of the Bush success story was to openly welcome this diversity while maintaining a commitment to family values.
The challenge facing Hague will translate this political juggling act into a philosophy which is attractive not only to the British electorate but to the Conservative Party. …