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Spot the real Conservative: David Cameron and William Hague 

Politics is the last thing anyone wants to discuss at a general election. For as long as most of us can remember, these strange contests have been fought through national advertising campaigns, TV trivia and through the personal images and reputations of increasingly presidential party leaders. The campaigns are usually enlivened, and sometimes taken over by shameless scare stories in which one side or the other seeks to frighten people into abandoning its opponent. 

Then there are those peculiar episodes known only to political journalists as "gaffes", usually a moment when an exhausted or exasperated frontbencher suddenly says what he or she actually thinks and then has to be disowned. I was myself once embroiled in such a gaffe, the moderately famous "Jennifer's Ear" episode of 1992, also known as "Grommetgate" because it concerned the insertion of grommets into the ears of small children. Details of the affair, which still causes a modest but important number of Labour-supporting people to hate me, are available on request. It is now as obscure and puzzling as the Schleswig-Holstein question, of which Lord Palmerston said that only three men in Europe understood it: one was dead, another in an asylum, and he himself had forgotten it. 

But Jennifer's Ear, whatever it was, did perform a useful purpose. It enabled people who didn't like the look of the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock but didn't know why to give themselves a reason for their unease about him. For 1992 was, almost as much as 2010 will be, a contest between parties which do not even want to be especially different. Mr Kinnock had, in the Cold War past, been rather faint-hearted about national defence. But the 1989 revolutions had made that meaningless, along with most of the other dividing lines of post-1945 British, European and North American politics. Nothing of any significance separated him from John Major, a man whose background was in apolitical municipal affairs and who spoke of his desire for a classless society. In many ways, the British people chose, without knowing it, the prototype New Labour government when they returned Mr Major to Downing Street in 1992. Politically correct, weak on the European Union, committed to a gigantic welfare state and defeatist on Northern Ireland, is it really very hard to imagine Mr Major going on to abolish the hereditary peers, introduce Welsh and Scottish devolution and civil partnerships, as well as signing the Lisbon Treaty? After all, he fought for Maastricht. 

Does this matter? Why should we be concerned that all major politicians now seem broadly agreed on every major topic and many minor ones too? Doesn't this just mean that the days of silly partisan posturing are over and that we are to be governed by reasonable men, under the discipline of occasional elections? I can quite see why people who call themselves "progressive" would think this. What is fascinating about this political season is that many who would certainly not call themselves that are also arguing for the joys and virtues of what they term the "Centre Ground". We are told that the British people are "moderates" and that a "moderate" Tory Party will appeal to them, seducing them from New Labour. Judging by the generosity to the Tories of formerly Blairish newspapers such as the Guardian, and the even more extraordinary kindnesses shown to David Cameron by the BBC, this is certainly the case in the important media classes. But what is much more disturbing is that so many people, whom I know to have conservative heads and hearts, appear to believe that this is a good thing. An extraordinary, sterile silence has descended not just over Tory politicians, but also over conservative journalists and commentators. It is simply not done to criticise the Cameron project. If you do so, you are at first shushed, as if you had made a scene in church. After that you are ignored with icy, aristocratic scorn. 

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Anonymous
November 10th, 2009
10:11 AM
Good article, sad but true. Cameron will solidify and render irreversible the horrors of Blair.

Leon Haller
November 10th, 2009
10:11 AM
Ahh, but Mr. Hitchens, you, too, are part of the problem. Certainly what you say with respect to the traitor Cameron's disavowal of even the pathetically tepid brand of conservatism known as "Thatcherism" is all too true. If Cameron wins, the meager soup of postwar British conservatism will finally have been thoroughly drained. But how much stronger is what you have to offer, and does it even recognize the central issue for both Britain and the possible eventual realization of the conservatives' perennial agenda? Here is your list of the central concerns of conservatives, as set forth in your article: "But what is much more puzzling to me is the apparent abandonment, by such conservatives, of any concern with issues which once moved them powerfully, including the cultural, sexual and moral revolutions, the man-made global warming cult, the attack on the married state, the pollution of language with intolerant leftist Newspeak, the pursuit of equality of outcome rather than of equality of opportunity, the loss of rigour and authority in education, the break-up of the UK and the unending salami-slicing assault on tradition and Christianity, the general unremitting attack on what Mr Blair once called "the forces of conservatism". Mr Cameron has nothing of any comfort or substance to say about these issues." These are all valid concerns, stated with admirable precision and concision. But where is any mention of immigration; ie, the Third World (and more specifically Islamic) invasion, colonisation and soon to be conquest of formerly 'Great' Britain? Of course, it may be that the immigration invasion, which was recognized as such by the TRUE Conservative Enoch Powell way back in the 1960s, was an issue which never "once moved [conservatives, at least their leaders; the grassroots always felt quite differently] powerfully", but that merely illustrates the proposition that the Stupid Party (UK Division) has never really understood the World Struggle of our time, which was never primarily between (Communist) East and (Capitalist; well, really Social Democratic) West, but rather between the white and non-white races for domination of the planet (as was recognized and predicted by the white-hating American Negro, W.E.B. Dubois, at the beginning of the 20th century). If Britain does not first end non-white immigration, and second, ultimately deport EVERY non-white possessor of British citizenship, thus in effect declaring itself a unitary white racial state, then sooner or later (more likely much sooner), the indigenous people of Britain will find themselves oppressed refugees in their own ancient fatherland. Every other issue of ostensible conservative concern pales into risible insignificance next to preserving the racial (and secondarily, ethnocultural) character of the British people. That, the very continuity of Britain itself, being the sole objective, the political duty of every British conservative, nay patriot, is to vote for the BNP, the ONLY non-treasonous organization in Britain.

Andrew
October 13th, 2009
8:10 AM
New Labour's '97 and subsequent victories, anonymous, signaled only the Left's abandonment of a purist, Michael Foot-like economic socialism. The Left has and will continue to fight on on the battlefield of cultural marxism, as Antonio Gramsci and others always predicted they must. It's pretty hard to dispute anything Hitchens says here, and the bizarre enthusiasm for Cameroonism from some "conservatives" is clearly inexplicable. Thatcher was (or still is I should say) a Great woman and leader, but her tragedy in realizing far too late the truth in Powell's warnings about Europe has never been more apparent than today when looking at the shell of "conservatism" in the Conservative party, not to mention her failure in an eleven-year premiership to recognize the greater cultural danger from the Left as I said above. Economic socialism (at least in its purest form; welfare collectivism is far from defeated) was ALWAYS destined to fail. The same cannot unfortunately be said about the horrible p.c. of moral relativism and cultural marxism. The only real question is whether Peter is right that the Tories will implode if they fail for a fourth consecutive general election, and if an entirely new party is needed, or if UKIP can ever emerge as a serious alternative (at least as serious as the not very serious Lib Dems anyway in Westminster numbers).

Anonymous
September 28th, 2009
2:09 AM
Only Defeat Can Save Conservatism? Didn't new labour's victory in '97 signal the unquestioning acceptance of Thatcherism? There is nothing left in UK politics, only Conservative neoliberalism.

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