That’s Jenni Russell’s message in her column for The Guardian. She accepts that the Conservatives are almost certain to be Britain’s next government and she encourages the Left to engage with David Cameron and avoid him (a) failing or/and (b) coming under the influence of the dreadful Tory right:
"The dominance of the progressive wing of the party can’t be taken for granted. It is a fragile thing, and if it is to succeed it needs constructive criticism. I asked two insiders how many people in the party were fully behind this new Toryism. "Ten," said one, "but it’s an important ten." Another said grimly: "Twenty-two – the shadow cabinet." Standing behind the more socially responsible Conservatives are plenty of gin-drinking, Mail-reading Tories nostalgic for the harshness of Thatcherism. They would cheer, along with the left, if this experiment failed."
A few observations:
The Cameroons tend to be dazzled by wooing from the Left: I do worry that the Cameroons are too flattered by the Guardian and other left-wing organisations that show them interest. It’s true that the Conservative project needs to be broadly based but there’s too much fascination with unsatisfactory ideas like Red Toryism and nudging. Old fashioned ideas like Margaret Thatcher’s housewife economics may not be so sexy but they are the ones that will get our country out of Labour’s economic mess.
Will the Left cool on Cameron if he pursues his social agenda? The most genuine (and important) thing about Project Cameron is its interest in social renewal. It will be interesting to see how the Left’s view of a Cameron government evolves if it stays true to its poverty-fighting agenda of emphasising marriage, faith-based charities, welfare reform, school choice and harm avoidance approaches to drug addiction.
The Right lacks coherence: Jenni Russell’s caricature of the Tory Right is ridiculous but the Right is now very hard to define. There is no great unifying force behind it if it exists at all anymore. There is certainly no accepted definition of Thatcherism. The Tory Right is split on Europe, foreign policy and confused on economics. It has no leader although David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Fallon, Liam Fox, John Hayes, Edward Leigh, Owen Paterson, John Redwood and John Whittingdale all represent important strands.
The ten who get it: And who are the "ten" who are fully behind the undefined "new Toryism"? I am only sure of six…
- David Cameron, of course.
- George Osborne, more socially liberal and more hawkish than DC but the tactical brain of the whole project.
- Steve Hilton, the strategic brain responsible for the decontamination project, for the emphasis on green issues and social responsibility.
- Edward Llewellyn, Cameron’s Chief of Staff, gatekeeper and hugely influential in the evolution towards ‘realpolitik’ in foreign policy.
- Oliver Letwin, responsible for putting together the overall policy programme of the next government and intellectually its Gandalf.
- Michael Gove, hugely trusted by David Cameron and responsible for the education brief that is intended to be the most radical of his government….
There are others, of course, who are hugely influential – Lord Ashcroft, Andy Coulson, Andrew MacKay are stand outs – but the above six would be my candidates for being fully behind the "new Toryism" and who are at the centre of power.