The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The first time as tragedy...
by Peter

A rather good post by Lewis Baston (biographer of Reginald Maudling) on politicalbetting sets out the parallels between 2005 and 1963:

I think there are some parallels between Davis 2005 and Maudling 1963, and that they’re more apposite than comparing Davis and Butler (Ken Clarke was the Butler figure this time, in my opinion, but far from an exact match - in his persona and policies there is something of Reggie about Clarke).

The task for Reggie at conference in 1963 was to remind the Conservatives why they had nearly univerally favoured him in June 1963 (if Macmillan had resigned over Profumo, Maudling would have been installed in a coronation) - his youth, modernity and successful policies. But, probably from over-preparation and a subconscious fear of success, Reggie fluffed it. The speech itself was not a bad one - it still reads very well. But it was not conference fare. It was a rather Brownian recitation of statistics, and failed utterly to pander to the conference mentality - he warned them that there was no room for tax cuts and concentrated on overseas aid and public services. Brave, but not what they wanted - a fighting speech to revive the mood after the dismal preceding year. Maudling fluffed all his applause lines and read it very boringly. Loyal Maudlingites in the audience leapt to their feet to try to stimulate a standing ovation, but one by one sat down in embarrassment. It wasn’t over for Reggie, but he was damaged after the conference failure. The Etonian, Alec Douglas-Home, was taken more seriously as a contender after a good, if pandering, speech. Reggie always despised the Conservative Party conference.

So, I think the comparison between Davis and Maudling is quite apt - both delivered their speeches badly and got the mood of the conference wrong (Davis by pandering, Maudling by not pandering). But Davis also committed an error of Quintin Hogg, with his exuberant (not to say vulgar) campaigning - the double-D’s and Randolph Churchill slapping ‘Q’ stickers all over the place did not impress.

This time around the Tories are in opposition. But if history is repeating itself, it's bad news for the Tories!
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 11:54 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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