Former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, John O’Sullivan, has written a piece for The National Review about David Cameron’s Conservatives. He contends that a lack of policy seriousness explains the hesitant nature of Tory support:
"Barring miracles, Cameron will be the next prime minister — handed
victory by the sheer scale of Brown’s failure rather than as a result
of confidence in the opposition. Why is there no enthusiasm for the
Tories? Why have they actually lost their polling gains of last year?
There are many possible answers, but the one that knits them all
together is that the voters sense something not quite serious about the
Cameron Tories. They share responsibility for the crisis because, like
Labour, they assumed prosperity would continue forever. They went so
far as to adopt Brown’s budgetary policies essentially as an exercise
in political positioning and conflict avoidance. Even where they
differed from Labour, as on Europe and immigration, they cannot benefit
from the failures of government policy because they decided to downplay
controversial issues. They avoided deciding matters that divided them
internally, in particular foreign policy, so that open rows are now
breaking out between Cameron’s senior colleagues over Iraq and Gaza.
And across the spectrum they selected policies on the basis of their
popularity with media liberals rather than because they would solve or
In short, they abandoned a broadly coherent post-Thatcherite
conservatism without having any clear idea of what might replace it.
They are today ideologically and psychologically directionless. They
hesitate and wobble indecisively even on so clear an issue of principle
as free speech in the Geert Wilders controversy. They need something
to believe in — so they flounder after silly ideological novelties, as
in their recent flirtation with an interventionist “Red Toryism."
Read the full article here.
Monday 2nd March: Daniel Finkelstein has posted an open letter to John O’Sullivan, questioning his analysis.