Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Of right and left

It used to be said, with some justification, that while the left sought traitors, the right sought converts. Useless and damaging arguments about 'purity' on the left were worth as much as the medieval discussions of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, and gave an impression of an inward-looking clique where normality was rejected. To read accounts of the militant tendency, of the entire 1970s Labour Party indeed, is to read of insiders and outsiders: prolier than thou hierarchy.

On the right, on the other hand, the great ambition was inclusivity - the aim being to stress the similarities rather than the points of difference. Disraeli might have said that a Conservative Government was an organised hypocrisy - but at least it was organised, and at least it was a government.

The current tide of conservative thought - and this is referring to events outside the party, which seems something of a backwater for such thought - is to look for enemies in the ranks, castigating people for being 'unsound'. This is not new, indeed Thatcherism was fundamentally a struggle between the wets (not one of us) and drys (one of us). Yet this is not how conservatism flourishes. The current crisis in the Middle East is revealing fault lines in Conservatism. It is important that these lines should not determine the party


Blogger Serf said...

Its a difficult balancing act though. As much as we despise those on the left, they are after all expected to make silly statements. When its one of our own, well thats reason enough to get crazy.

12:44 pm  

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