Monday 7 December 2009

Red Toryism

The Conservative Party does not do ideology, at least it shouldn’t, an entirely personal view, I confess. But David Cameron wants to put an intellectual gloss on post-Thatcher Toryism, to give it coherence, a basis and a sense of direction. So, along trundles a new thinking tank, the ResPublica, and along comes Philip Bond, given to promoting something he calls ‘Red Toryism’, as if we had not sickened enough of red over the past twelve years. Now I really am seeing red. :-))

It seems to me that Blond is just another promoter of second-hand and muddle-headed ideas. His ‘fresh, candid thinking’ includes such revolutionary platforms as breaking up large supermarkets, higher charges on supermarket carparks and-wait for it-rules to prevent the building of new supermarkets. So, you see, Mister Blond clearly has a thing about supermarkets. Perhaps he took a tumble from a trolley when he was a baby?

Sorry, I’m being unfair; there is more to ‘Red Toryism’ than this: there is the proposal to give the residents of council estates the ability to control budgets for services as diverse as education, housing and policing. Just how this control is to be exercised is not clear to me. More than that, where is the demand for this form of decentralisation? Do people in council estates really want to be taken away from the delights of day time TV? I don’t know the answer to these questions. Perhaps they do, though I rather suspect not.

What ‘Red Toryism’ reduces to, if I can simplify matters, is an attack on a successful business sector coupled with the belief in forms of community utopianism. What Mister Blond does not like is Thatcherite neo-liberalism, the belief in the power of markets and the power of personal initiative. Yes, there deep and radical thinking is required about the future direction of policy, as David Cameron said at the launching of the good ship ResPublica last week, just not the ‘deep and radical thinking’ of the Blond variety.

We’ve been here before. This is the soft soap vision that carried ‘Blue Socialism’ into Downing Street, the pap that once went by the name of a ‘stake holder society’ and-Lord help us-‘communitarianism.’ The reality, of course, was the empowering of a Labour tyranny and the disempowering of people, the disempowering of Parliament. Where there are communities, in other words, let us bring fragmentation, let us bring alienation, let us bring migration. Yes, give more power to people by handing it away, on no authority whatsoever, to Brussels.

Power brings its own demands, its own responsibilities. It’s best to be practical about these matters, not to be caught in a snare of tiresome ideas and empty programmes. Red Toryism is no Toryism. It’s the politics of the circus, the thinking of the second rate. Be pragmatic, be realistic are the two guiding ideas David should take into government. All else will follow.


  1. Got to disagree here. I think Philip Blond is a breath of fresh air. Yes, some of the ideas may not be so good. But their general gist and direction is spot on. The reason why I was a Liberal (later Liberal Democrat and now English Democrat) was that although I accepted the broad economic sense of Thatcherite neo-liberalism I also recognised the importance of a sense of community rather than just atomised individualism.

    The snide comment "Do people in council estates really want to be taken away from the delights of day time TV?" shows you to be very much from the paternalist wing of the Tory party. When I was at University that was the group that the libertarian northern working classes all heartily despised.

    "Call me Dave" Cameron is just a PR man. Jetting up to the arctic circle just so he can be photographed hugging a huskie. Bicycling to work whilst his papers are carried in the car following him. Putting a windmill on his house just so that he can claim to be "green". And then there's his claims to be "proud of all the Scottish blood in his veins" and how he's going to "stand up for Scotland against the sour-faced little-Englanders", (that would be people like me who have the temerity to think that all the citizens of the "United" Kingdom should have equal political rights).

    He really has no idea about the economic sh1t-storm we are facing. The deficit this year is looking to be around £200 billion, and next year £175 billion.

    To put that in perspective, the Government wage bill is £120 billion.

    They could sack everyone and we'd still be massively in deficit.

    Now what happens if the markets take fright and there is a sterling crisis?

    Interest rates have to go up to defend sterling. The rates on Government Bonds have to go up as well. The recovery is strangled at birth, depressing tax revenues. Meanwhile the deficit still has to be paid, and at ever higher rates. The danger is that at some point Government enters a Debt "Black Hole" at which the debt rises faster than our ability to pay it off.

    Yes, it's all Gordon Brown's fault. The man so clueless that he even sold 57% of our gold reserves at the very bottom of the market.

    But I don't see any evidence that the self-declared "Heir to Blair" David Cameron has any idea of how to take the difficult decisions that are going to be necessary either.

    Are you really so sure that posturing poseurs like David Cameron have a better idea of what to do than some of those Council Estate inhabitants? People who live in the real world rather than a cossetted bubble?

  2. Hey, G, thanks. :-)

    Thank you also, WG. You mustn’t be cross with me. Yes, OK, I was being mischievous but I also think that most people, living in council estates or not, really don't care to take on the kind of responsibilities that Blond imagines. I admit my political and personal associations are, perhaps, what you would define as 'county', but this does not make me 'paternalistic', not by a long way. My ideology, if I have an ideology at all, is libertarian and neo-Thatcherite.

    I believe in David Cameron, I believe he has done a superb job. In any case I am not prepared at this moment in time to do or say anything that would upset the punt. :-)