Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Talented Mr Howard

PC debunks the Liberal smear that Conservatism is simply a knee-jerk reaction to change. I'd say 'what he said' with the addendum that if you want real reactionaries these days you'd do better on the left side of the political spectrum. The NHS ? Law Enforcement ? Stayte Skools ? All rubbish, but suggesting to Liberals that meaningful reform is needed is like telling the Inquisition that the Pope's a smart guy but, hey, he's not infallible.

The flip-side of that is the way Liberals have busted our patent on nostalgia. Liberals often like to caricature Conservatives as being obsessed with the Fifties as some kind of Golden Age but, to listen to a Liberal, Britain in 1978 was the Garden of Eden. Every house had a money tree (which would at least explain the inflation figures), there were so many jobs people would've been able to have two each except you only needed to work five hours a week to live like a Lord and besides, there was no crime anyway so the Police had plenty of time to moonlight.

No, enough already. Lady T was elected precisely because Britain was slithering down the U-bend and she was seen as the only person who could stop it. Likewise, there's no better model for how today's Conservative Party can turn things round than to learn the lesson from the talented Mr Howard - the one who lives down under.

John Howard has built his success from throwing Liberal sacred cows on the barbie. His latest crusade is one that's directly relevant to Britain: he's taking on Australia's educrats. The honest Mr Blair approves, while Oz blogger Prof Bunyip sums exactly why Howard combines good policy with good politics on this issue.

Soon, in the approach to the coming election, it will be the education writers' turn to demand that readers abandon reality, and do so with the same determination that prevails in Fairfax and ABC news rooms. The voters won't pick up the cue, of course, because they know all about the schools Howard wants to change. Their kids go to them. But the Hilmerites' tin ear won't catch the buzz of genuine discontent and the papers will be full of scare stories that none but the writers and those quoted take seriously. In fact, inevitably, every slanted assault citing yet another outraged educational theorist will further confirm the increasingly widespread suspicion that the taxpayers' dollar buys bulk orders of careerist gibberish, rather than good grades for junior.

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