Sunday, 11 November 2012

An Alarming Patten

I do not agree with Chris Patten about the EU, especially, because on that he remains faithful to the record of the Prime Minister who signed the Single European Act and who appointed him to the Cabinet.

But a practising Catholic former Director of the Conservative Research Department, former Thatcher Cabinet Minister (in charge of the Poll Tax), former Chairman of the Conservative Party when it won a General Election which it had been expected to lose, and living reminder that that party was once strong in the provinces, is now a figure of the metropolitan liberal elite? Being chaired by him proves that an institution is left-wing? Seriously? Come on!

If Patten is somehow not a proper Conservative, then nor is the Prime Minister who put him the Cabinet. It really is quite extraordinary to read the comments on right-wing sites where this story is concerned, as it is when, for example, the NHS or the Middle East is being discussed. The once-mighty Conservative Party has become the weirdest of fringe sects, membership of which is conditional on subscription to a dozen or more shibboleths poles apart from mainstream, normal opinion.

Those include that the BBC should be abolished, that the NHS should be abolished, and that Britain should adopt an Israel First ultra-hawkishness far in excess of the position of Mossad or the IDF. A fantasy version of history is constructed and idealised, a combination of the 1950s without the first half of the twentieth century, and the 1980s without almost anything that really happened during that decade.

This sort of thing, and that relating to nothing more than PBS and ObamaCare rather to the BBC and the NHS, has just failed to win the Presidency of the United States and has just lost or failed to gain Senate seats in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana. How much appeal does anyone honestly imagine that it might have in Britain?

As it was put to me yesterday: "I might as well have backed Gingrich-Palin, for more fun, less money, and the same result." Today's Republican Party could never have nominated any of its past Presidents. Not a single one. The Conservative Party is heading the same way. It will get there more or less immediately when it is defeated in 2015. From that year onwards, all previous Conservative Prime Ministers will be as unimaginable as all previous Republican Presidents already are.

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