Monday, August 13, 2012

Conservatives are not conservatives and it's all Reg Varney's fault

I shall be away from this blog for a few days, but have scheduled some good things to appear in my absence. Most of them are by me, so let's begin by paying tribute to someone else.

Stumbling and Mumbling is a blog written by Rutland's own Chris Dillow, whose book The End of Politics: New Labour and the Folly of Managerialism is well worth seeking out too.

I remember two of his posts in particular.

In Conservatives for Revolution from October 2008 he argued, surely correctly, that a reverence for English traditions is more common on the Left than amongst the Conservative Party - " you’ll struggle to find a Conservative voter at a meeting of CAMRA or at a Martin Carthy gig."

And he goes on to point out how little the policies of the modern Conservative Party have to do with conservatism:
The conservative prefers the tried and trusted to the new; he prefers to back the field than any particular horse. 
But bosses reject all this. Their claim to power - in business or in government - is a claim to an especial expertise. And the Conservative party, at least in my lifetime, has been the party of bosses.
The conservative temperament gave us mutual building societies, with their local roots and long traditions. The Conservative party gave us the demutualized societies, which blew up spectacularly.
This is impressive, but if I had to vote for a favourite post on this blog it would be Reg Varney's Role in Economic History from the following month:
His portrayal of Stan Butler did much to perpetuate the image of the 1970s worker as a bone-idle work-dodger; we forget today just how enormously popular On the Buses was. And this in turn might subconsciously have contributed to the popularity of Thatcherism. How many of those who, when asked by Tories in 1979 whether the working class had become too big for its boots, conjured up a picture of Stan Butler and so voted for Thatcher? 
There’s more ... Reg Varney was the first man in the world to use a cash point machine.
And by doing so he brought in two undesirable features of the modern British economy: inflation and rising levels of personal debt.

No wonder Blakey hated him.

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