Howards End II

Min med-punditokrat, Mikael Bonde Nielsen, har naturligvis ret: Nederlaget til Toryerne bør på baggrund af den kampagne de førte få dem til at gå i tænkeboks m.h.t. partiets fremtidige linie. Men de behøver såmænd ikke at overveje denne så meget–when you find yourself in hole, stop digging! Et godt råd til partiet kom allerede dagen før valget i en kronik i Wall Street Journal Europe af John Wheatcroft, som foreslog, at partiet skulle gå tilbage til Edmund Burkes konservatisme–men vel og mærke af den type, som de fleste såkaldte Burke-konservative ikke kender, fordi de generelt aldrig har læst eller forstået, hvad Burke faktisk repræsenterede: en pragmatisk, skeptisk liberalisme snarere end en mere autoritær statskonservatisme. Wheatcroft skrev bl.a. om Torierne:

"Where do they go from here if they are to recover? Just as much to the point, how did they get to here? As the progenitor of intelligent conservatism once remarked, when things go wrong there is always a temptation to enquire "not how we got into this difficulty, but how we are to get out of it," or "to consult our invention, and to reject our experience."

And yet, Edmund Burke went on, this was "diametrically opposed to every rule of reason, and every principle of good sense." Far from ignoring the actions that have caused our present difficulties, we should take a strict review of them, "in order to correct our errors if they should be corrigible; or at least to avoid a dull uniformity in mischief, and the unpitied calamity of being repeatedly caught in the same snare."

Ifølge Wheatcroft ligger svaret ikke i Howards linie xenofobiske, paternalistiske konservatisme:

"Under his leadership the Tories have fought a remarkably brutal campaign, which may also have been misguided. They have denounced gypsies, foreigners and criminals, and attacked Mr. Blair in such personal terms as have rarely been heard before in British politics. Mr. Howard has warned of hordes of immigrants coming here "for nefarious purposes." The Tories have asked "How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter?" and have said of Mr. Blair, "If he's prepared to tell lies to take us to war he's prepared to lie to win an election."
Not only has this distressed gentler souls in the party, it hasn't worked. There is some evidence that the bare-knuckle coarseness of the Tory campaign has actually backfired by alienating as many anticollectivist but socially liberal middle-class voters as it has picked up embittered nativists.
At the same time, Mr. Howard has been notably chary about fresh thinking from within his party … One Tory faked a photograph to show himself attacking asylum seekers, while another runs on the slogan "What part of 'Send them back' don't you understand, Mr. Blair?" Neither of those suffered more than a mild rebuke from Mr. Howard."

Derimod er politikere, som har stået fast på Thatcherske idealer om begrænset statsmagt, lave skatter og individuel frihed blevet slået ned med omtrent samme argumenter og metoder, som man under tiden ser blandt danske borgerligt-liberale partiers ledelser, når medlemmerne våger at forsøge at holde dem til partlinien:

"[Howard] behaved in well-nigh Stalinist fashion when it came to ejecting two others from the party … And the crimes for which they were "deselected" by Mr. Howard? Mr. Flight's was to have thought out loud about the need for deeper tax cuts, Mr. Kruger's to have proposed "creative destruction"–a phrase with which Mr. Howard affects to be unfamiliar–in our sclerotic public services. Plenty of people would say that the Tory leader sacked the wrong two men.
This nervousness about mounting a serious challenge on taxes and spending is matched by Mr. Howard's feeble display over civil liberties. The Blair government has relentlessly assaulted the basic principles of due process and individual freedom, from jury trial to incarceration without trial and compulsory identity cards. Rather than defend our ancient liberties, the Tories have competed with authoritarian rhetoric to please the tabloids."

Men hvor ligger fremtiden så for Torierne? Wheatcroft antyder svaret:

"Over the ages, the Tories have repeatedly reinvented themselves, co-opting one social group after another and drastically adapting their program. The last, brilliantly effective reinvention came under Margaret Thatcher, when the Tories wholeheartedly embraced the competitive free market (by no means always part of their creed) and preached social and economic liberation. Part of Tony Blair's secret is, of course, the way that he has embraced so much of that Thatcherite legacy while fashioning it to his own purposes. …

To avoid a dull uniformity in mischief, the Tories might step back after the election and wonder how they got it so badly wrong. Their attack on immigrants has not only left a nasty taste, it was wrongheaded. Our country badly needs incomers. … On top of that, Mr. Howard has, while accusing Mr. Blair in savage terms of lying over Iraq, not only said that he supports the war still but that he would have done even if there had been no evidence at all of weapons of mass destruction. Leave aside the logic of that, it has alienated many of his supporters. … If the Tories now find further leisure in opposition, they might try consulting their experience in the hope of correcting their errors. They could go on in the present Poujadist direction, voicing the sournesses of the alienated and embittered. Or they could try one further reinvention, as an economically (small-state) and socially (open-minded and diverse) libertarian party, while adopting a critical attitude to the increasing centralism of the European Union and also the unconditional American alliance.That may be unlikely at present, but the alternative for the Tories is to be caught yet again in the same snare. And then, "unpitied calamity" will surely be the words."

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