OneStat.com Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): Do the Tories have the winning formula?

Friday, January 30, 2004

Do the Tories have the winning formula?

I found Charles Moore's article in today's Telegraph stimulating even if I don't entirely want to agree.

He basically argues that the reason for the Tories lack of political success in recent years has been a lack of low cynicism and high ideals. I broadly align myself with this analysis, but some of Mr Moore's detail I find difficult. Much of what the party has done may be viewed as opportunistic but it is not the cynical politics which has made Labour so successful. From a political view we long seem to have failed to grasp the broader political picture and managed to manipulate to the needs and success of the party. We have also seemed to lack the 'high ideals' which enable one to set oneself as automatically superior to political opponents. Labour do it, scornfully invoking all those 'without' in modern society; the Liberals do it in a pseudo-intellectual manner. This has long been the strength of the Conservative Party but to be successful it must make it the case again. I do not necessarily agree with his condemnation of Jim Prior's activities or that we need a neo-Thatcherite revival. We need to assert traditional Conservative values with a bit of long-term political nouse and the odd 'high ideal' thrown in for good measure...an easy recipe for a man like Howard surely. Certainly easier than Moore's charge that "we must find a way of abolishing or hugely reducing the licence fee while reviving the core of public service broadcasting."

Much of his criticism of the institution of the BBC I think is fair. Despite my gut instinct to be protective of what is and has long been a great British institution it has undesirable aspects for much of 'Middle Britain'. Moore's assertion of whether Wolfowitz or Hizbollah, Gerry Adams or Norman Tebbit would get an easier ride strikes a resonant bell. How to conserve this and yet improve the institution is surely one of the great testing challenges of what conservatism will mean in the 21st century. And it's not an easy question.



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