Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation, Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
In the same way that an important maxim of politics is that one should not make the perfect the enemy of the good, so it must also be remembered that while we may have our own problems the other side has problems too.
The very worst university or constituency Conservative Associations are all too often riven with dissent and political feuds that are in reality mere personal feuds. Even on Conservative Home – the leading platform for debate and discussion among conservative activists and supporters – discussions can become insular and inward-looking.
And yet we must remember not only that there is more that unites us than divides us, but also that our opponents have problems that are similar to, and may even dwarf, our own. While we can indulge in fierce and all too personal levels of debate in an exercise of self-flagellation amounting to some bizarre political version of sado-masochism, we need to reflect on what the real enemy is – socialism.
Since the downfall of Margaret Thatcher – SIXTEEN years ago – we have instead acted like members of the People’s Front of Judea. The Judean People’s Front are our mortal enemies – right up there with the Popular Front and the Campaign for a Free Galilee. All the time that we have spent working ourselves up into a lather over which members of the front bench are "one of us" or decrying those who are "stuck in the mud" or "extreme right-wingers" we have been doing the work of our opponents for them.
We would have done – indeed we would do – far better to take a step back and consider the position of our opponents.
The Liberal Democrats (and their two predecessor parties, the Liberals and the SDP) have suffered far worse than we have. One leader was involved in a murder trial, another was exposed as an adulterer and a third resigned because he had a drink problem. The Liberals fell to a handful of seats in parliament in the 1970s and by 1990 the then nine year old SDP came fourth in a by-election to the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Labour too has had its problems and even now, despite having won a third term, its position is not unassailable. There is a real possibility that the Prime Minister will be asked to "help the police with their enquiries" in connection with the Cash for Peerages scandal. His relationship with the Chancellor remains fraught. The party’s divisions make the battles between wets and dries or federalists and eurosceptics seem tame by comparison. Their membership is falling. And whereas Thatcher (and to a lesser extent, Major) at the very least managed to please their core supporters, Labour’s core supporters have been (in their eyes) betrayed by Blair.
So this week’s maxim or admonition is to remember that the other side has troubles too and that we would do well to focus on that when tempers become frayed on our own side.
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