The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Friday, October 14, 2005
Ian Gilmour's view on the leadership contest
By Peter

To atone for the descent to the Mirror (see below), here is a something from the London Review of Books (link above - but you may need to subscribe).

Gilmour makes a good start by reminding us of John Stuart Mill's description of the Conservative Party, and goes on to ask whether the Tories are any longer a serious party. He is not sure they are, singling out for blame:

"The rebels against the Maastricht Treaty (who) didn't care how much damage their activities did to the party and government".

And then he paints a fairly woeful picture of the contrast between Tory leaders past and present

"From 1832, the 19th-century Conservative leaders were Peel, Lord Derby, Disraeli and Lord Salisbury. Except possibly Derby, who was at least as interested in translating the classics as in governing the country, they were all excellent leaders and the best men for the job. Much the same is true of the first half of the 20th century, when the leaders were Balfour, Bonar Law, Austen Chamberlain, Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and Churchill. In the second half of the century they were Churchill again, Eden, Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Heath, Thatcher and John Major – a more mixed bunch, admittedly, but still mostly distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did this Conservative descent into absurdity occur?"

Rather predictably, he blames the Press - and I think he goes overboard on this.

Then he turns his attention to the Leadership contenders this time around, with typical wit

"David Davis has promised not to swerve to the right, but as he is already standing on the right touchline, that does not mean much. According to David Cameron, one of the other candidates, Davis is a man of great experience. But that is true only by Cameron’s own standards."

Speaking of Cameron directly, he says "Cameron is 39 years old, but he lacks even Hague’s limited experience...that he thinks such limited experience should enable him to be a good leader of the Conservative Party and prospective prime minister looks more than a little conceited."

Rather sadly he refuses to say very much about Fox (a candidate who began as a rank outsider and yet who continually exceeds expectations).

So that leaves Clarke, and it isn´t any surprise to find Gilmour on his side. His verdict?

"For the Conservatives to spurn him and choose instead a pussycat to oppose Labour would be suicidal."

But "the party has made almost every conceivable mistake, and now looks likely to continue that record."

So there you have the views of the old Tory hierarchy, the last of the unreconstructed Heathites. His complaints about Clarke's opponents are, in the main, justified. But at the end of the day he does not make much of a case for Clarke at the level of ideas. Still John Stuart Mill's description of the Tories was as "the stupid party". So perhaps that doesn´t matter.
posted by Apollo Project @ 10:14 am  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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