Monday, October 10, 2005

The Strange Death of Tory England

I have just been reading Geoffrey Wheatcroft's book The Strange Death of Tory England. It is a history of the party's triumph and collapse in the years since Alec Douglas-Home became leader. If you want a history of the Conservatives in the decades before that, incidentally, I recommend Simon Ball's The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made.

You can find a summary of Wheatcroft's arguments in an article he wrote for The Wall Street Journal on the eve of the Tories' third successive election defeat. His conclusion is not a bad summary of what a successful alternative to Blairism might look like:
If the Tories now find further leisure in opposition, they might try consulting their experience in the hope of correcting their errors. They could go on in the present Poujadist direction, voicing the sournesses of the alienated and embittered. Or they could try one further reinvention, as an economically (small-state) and socially (open-minded and diverse) libertarian party, while adopting a critical attitude to the increasing centralism of the European Union and also the unconditional American alliance.

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