Monday, May 19, 2014

Kenneth Clarke is a liberal Conservative not a Liberal Democrat

"Ken Clarke is now a Liberal Democrat in all but name," complains Steerpike on his Spectator blog.

This is nonsense.

Clarke is a liberal Conservative - a breed that used to be common, but is not almost extinct. And the Conservative Party is much weaker because of it.

In his early days as leader, it looked as though David Cameron had grasped that, in order to win a majority, his party had to reach out to voters who are not instinctive Conservative voters. And in order to do that, he would have to reverse its rightward drift.

Some even saw the formation of the Coalition as a tactical masterstroke on his part. He had co-opted the Liberal Democrats to take the place of his own party's vanished liberal wing.

Few now see Cameron in those generous terms and Steerpike sounds like a Labour activist from the 1980s saying some moderate MP who refused to back the Militant or Bennite line was a "Tory" who should be thrown out of the party.

The truth is that the Conservative Party, which has not won a majority for 22 years now, needs many more people like Kenneth Clarke if it is to thrive.

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