Sunday, 6 February 2005

A Tory talks (some) sense

by Dom Corrigan

I might've voted Howard in the Tory leadership election - but in the end, of course, it was a stitch up, and it was all decided behind closed-doors in Westminster. The Tory rump must have feared the prospect of bringing some divisive issues into the media spotlight.

But the illusion of unity within the parliamentary party has been bought at the expense of the opening of a sizeable chasm between the MPs and the members. Almost every important group of members has been sold down the river - the aristocratic/hunting/fishing wing, the armed forces group, the pro-war Tories, Eurosceptics, low tax Tories, libertarians and recently the anti-ID card/ancient civil liberties wing. Who's left?

Howard was not thought of as a stupid man. One can only assume that he's forced into the confusing, contradictory, and apparently opportunist positions to keep the party together, or tricked into them by the focus groups. He's too easily blinded by the BBC that various bits of lefty stupidity are held sacrosanct by the British, when they usually are not. As it says here,

These days, the opposition front bench could not see a decent idea if it danced naked on Ian Duncan Smith's bald patch.

It's strange, then, that the most encouraging signs are from good old IDS himself who, by taking a principled stand during the reading of the Mental Health Bill, reasserted the seemingly forgotten idea that the individual should be stronger than the state. Even some Labour back-benchers agreed. It reminds us that the Tories can still articulate some clever and thought-provoking ideas. IDS was always pretty popular with the grass-roots. He took the usual ad hominem attacks from the Left - mostly about his image - but was a brave and decent fellow.

And then there's Boris Johnson, who in a recent post on ID cards let us know that all is not perhaps lost. Boris sounds more and more like a protege of The Daily Telegraph's brilliant Charles Moore.

There may be hope - but how much longer will we wait?

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