Friday, September 07, 2012

The Post-Thatcherite Right

The Conservative Party's rising rightists do not represent a new form of politics, but they are certainly a reinvigorated and modified brand of the Thatcherite original.  That, at least, appears to be the conclusion of the IPPR's Nick Pearce in a perceptive piece on the reshuffle now up on the IPPR website.  Although using the Cameron modernisation project for their advancement, there is not a scintilla of traditional One Nation Toryism in their dry new bones, and Pearce concludes:

"So-called “Blue Collar Modernisation” does not address these fundamental weaknesses in the post-Thatcherite Conservative Party. It skates on the surface of politics, looking at polling evidence and personalities, without digging any deeper into the social, economic and cultural forces shaping Britain. It asks what policies might appeal to Northern and Scottish voters, without pausing to examine why almost all of the institutional embodiments of conservatism fall away the further North you go. Disdaining the post-war era, it has no grasp of the popular national appeal once achieved by Macmillan’s party.  Dismissive of the state, it has no champions of active government intervention like Michael Heseltine.  Lacking reach into the working class, it cannot trace a thread back to the Tory Radical traditions of Oastler and his ilk."

Sadly, Pearce is probably also right when he portrays Ken Clarke as the last of the old One Nation breed.  There are still a few flagbearers amongst younger MPs - Jane Ellison, Richard Fuller, Robert Buckland - but good as they are, they are not leading a movement at the moment.   Forward momentum within the Tory party remains with the reinvigorated Thatcherite right, whatever that brings to the party's fortunes nationally.

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