Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Trainwreck Nostalgia

File this under ‘With Friends Like These…’: David Mellor has just penned a crazed attack on David Davis. Yep, the human reification of the sheer awfulness of the Major Years is backing David Cameron. Then again, Captain Trainwreck himself all but came out for Cameron last week. Clearly suffering delusions of relevance, Major informs us that the leadership contest is an opportunity to finally destroy the Right. If Major thinks people vote Conservative because they don’t like right-wing politics, the events of 1990-97 suddenly become a lot more explicable.

Still, it’s worth revisiting the nightmare of the Major Years, if only to remind ourselves what happened last time the Tories ditched an unpopular ideologue, in favour of an electable moderate. What happened was Tony Blair.

If anything, Cameron’s claim to electability seems even weaker than Major’s. What we have here is the combined effects of the Least Conservative Tory Syndrome and the media’s basic narcissim. Sure, the media has persuaded to back a public school Oxbridge graduate (you know, sort of like many of them are), but how relevant is all that ?

It’s significant that the only time Cameron faced anything like a real electoral test, the results were mixed, to say the least. No sign of star quality, for sure. Ditto, Wat Tyler points out one big problem with Cameron. While it may be possible to win an election with the South alone, it’s surely easier to try and pick up seats in the whole country. Considering what a Cameron victory would mean for the Conservative Party, it’s hard not to think of Zell Miller’s description of the Democrats:

Once upon a time, the most successful Democratic leader of them all, FDR, looked south and said 'I see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill clad, ill nourished.' Today our national Democratic leaders look south and say, 'I see one third of a nation and it can go to hell.'

But, OK, for the sake of argument we’ll assume that Cameron is a dead cert for No 10. Next question: so what ?

If you’re an MP, you want the Conservatives to win the next election. Ditto, over-committed members may have a tribal loyalty to the Party, but the rest of us ? Folks, name one truly Conservative policy that a Cameron government will push through. For that matter, name one Blairian policy that would be reversed ?

This is where the analogy with Blair breaks down. True, Blair is often looked upon by Lefty purists as a triangulating sell-out but, feints to the right to the contrary, when it comes to the policies that he’s implemented, rather than merely talked about, he has proved himself to be impeccably Gramsican.

Or maybe that’s the argument for a Conservative government ? At least a period of Conservative government could put a stop to this kind of deranged social engineering, right ? Except we’ve tried this before. How we laughed in the mid-80s when we heard of London boroughs introducing ‘Anti-Racist Maths’ and the like – but who’s running the country, now ? Look, for example, at the way femiloon ideology exercises a death grip on social services. Would mere possession of more seats in Westminster change that ? Hardly. In fact, recent history suggests it could make things much worse.

Lady Thatcher is often criticised for being overly concerned with fixing the economy rather than fighting the culture war - much as Churchill let his first term get sidetracked by foreign policy. True or not, at least Lady Thatcher did no actual harm. In contrast, the Major Years were positively disastrous for Conservatism. Socialists had spent years claiming that Conservatives were all secretly amoral, self-obsessed sleazebags, but they never did nearly as much damage as the seven years of the Caligula administration. If Blair had called in an exorcist on May 1 1997, it would not have been excessive (and it might have rid us of Cherie). How much damage could the Major Years II do to Britain ?

Here’s the thing though: just as the elevation of John Major was a disaster for Conservatism, things right now are actually going the right way. Look at how people reacted to the Joan Rivers/Darcus Howe incident. Even ten years ago JR would’ve have become an unperson, now she’s a heroine. That’s reflected in the wider culture – a charge of racism used to be an instant career killer, now more and more people are standing firm and telling the Left to see them in court. Hey – look at the biggest indicator of them all: Little Britain. Hardly a Conservative show, but characters like Vicky Pollard, Lou and Andy and Dafydd would be unthinkable in the 1990s.

Just as the Major Government was the perfect example of Bad Conservatism, Blair is proof that, no matter how carefully managed, Liberalism is still at heart a lousy philosophy. Consider 'Education, Education, Education'. For all that Blair flaps around, the Left is a prisoner of its own metacontext, with its deranged assumptions about social inclusiveness and the like. With every passing day it becomes clearer that there isn't a problem with any particular Liberal school policy, far less implementaion. The problem is that their whole worldview stinks.

Electing a Conservative Government now would give the Left plausible deniability. That would be worth it, if it was a truly Conservative government, but consider that in Cameron we have a potential leader who thinks the Government may be going too far in it's plans to jail the governors of schools who serve too many burgers. Do you think ? Hey, Conservatism is a pretty big tent, but if banging folks up for 'possession of a cheeseburger with intent to supply' seems sane to you, you're probably in the wrong Party.

Who cares if Cameron and the rest of the hollow men get to prance around Whitehall if the Left maintains its grip on the actual machinery of government ? Cameron shows no sign of recognising that there even is a culture war, let alone showing any appetite for fighting it. To Cameron’s breed of Conservative, their key constituency is board members of multinationals who just want their taxes cut and the right to machine gun surplus employees. No doubt it goes down well in Notting Hill, but why would anyone else support him ?

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