Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Centre-Right Project

Voices on the left and right are already moving in on the new coalition, the difference being that most of the leftist voices are from outside the Liberal Democratic party, while most of the rightist voices are from inside the Conservative Party. Conservative Home's Tim Montgomerie wasted no time in posting a critique of the party's campaign on his website - about which more in a later post - and today Paul Goodman, the former MP and, long before that even, former moderate leader of the Federation of Conservative Students before it entered loonyland, has penned a mournful observation on the same site. Goodman is predicting - rather hopefully I felt - that the coalition may not last five weeks. He does, however, end with an observation on Cameron and Osborne that is, I think, very acute. He makes this point as a regrettable occurrence - I see it as a thoroughly good one:

In short, they're doing a Roy Jenkins in reverse - seeking to form a progressive coalition of the centre-right rather than the centre-left: a new force that will isolate Labour; stuff Mandelson, Campbell (Menzies as well as Alistair), Adonis, Shirley Williams, Ashdown and the rest of Jenkins' heirs, and dominate British politics during the early part of the new century. Read here David Alton's account of how the Liberal Democrats' predecessors split again and again - over Unionism, coalitions and National Government - and were gradually absorbed by the Conservatives. In the nicest possible way, Baldwin's successors are seeking to repeat history today. If they eventually succeed, it will liberate them from the Party's right which, they surely believe, has held the Conservatives prisoner since at least the mid-1990s. David Cameron must catch himself thinking that his lack of a majority is a stroke of wonderful fortune.

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