The Guardian is serious about blogging, and it is also serious about presenting the occasional non-left piece of writing. (They used regularly to publish pieces by Enoch Powell.) So the surprising thing about this piece about blogging is not that the Guardian published it, but that the name of Iain Duncan Smith appears where the author’s name goes. (I share Patrick Crozier‘s doubts about the piece’s true authorship. And when we are talking about blogging, being who you say you are is a big thing, I think.)
IDS (I will assume this to be real from now on) hopes that blogging will revitalise the right in Britain, and notes that blogging has already revitalised the right in the USA, and has utterly deranged the left by causing the left to drag their party away from electability.
I wonder. I suspect that the problems of the Conservative Party are more serious than that, and that blogging will as likely serve to dramatise all the many differences that are now contained, if that is the right word, within the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives now have a hideous problem. Having lost confidence in its own economic nostrums, with the collapse both of the old USSR and of its own attempts to galvanise the British economy by seizing control of it, the British dirigiste left is content to allow Blair – or, I suspect, any likely successor of Blair – to triangulate away into the sunset. Labour knows that for them, it is either New Labour or no Labour at all. Which means that the Conservatives are no longer united by Labour. Instead they are divided by New Labour.
I do not go out of my way to converse with Conservative Party activists or critics or cheerers-on, but every one of such persons I have met with during the last decade or so has had his own distinct plan for the future of the Conservative Party, consisting of his own preferred mixture of policies. Each activist knows that his particular plan is The Answer, and that all that is needed is for all those other Conservative morons to stop with the negativity and embrace his plan without reservation. Easy really.
The Conservative Party should take a firm stand about this (or its opposite), without compromise. But, it should fearlessly compromise on that, by either lying or not talking about it. Go hard with England, Britain, Europe, the Anglosphere, the World (mix and dilute to taste). Be anti-immigrant, pro-immigrant. Anti-ID-cards, pro-ID-cards. Smash the welfare state, buy voters with an even better welfare state. Cut pensions, raise pensions. Support state education, destroy state education. Defend fox hunting, ignore fox hunting. Applaud the Americans, denounce the Americans. (I once thought that the Conservatives could maybe agree about applauding the Americans and leave the rowing about the Americans to the Labour Party. Fat chance.) Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Every policy front is a distinct way to destroy Conservative Party unity.
It used to be that the Leader would decide all these things. Now they all want to be the Leader. And if they are not the Leader, and a different mixture of policies and attitudes is propose to their preferred mixture by the bloke who is the Leader, they are about as loyal to the Leader as a basket of low-IQ, but poisonous, snakes. As a result, the Conservative Party is now nigh on unleadable. It is not that they have chosen bad Leaders, or for that matter that they have chosen their Leaders by the wrong methods. It is that they cannot be lead.
I cannot see blogging being much help with all this. On the contrary, I think it will only allow the stupid snakes to hiss louder and louder. Blogging will be a whole new source of indiscretions and vituperations, a whole new way to destroy the Conservative Party. The anti-Conservative journalists could have a field day, and I think the Guardian knows it.
IDS says that blogging will put the fear of God into the “metropolitan elite”, and assumes that this will help the Conservative Party. It is just as likely to start a new civil war within it. IDS says that lazy journalists think only of the impact of this or that policy on the opinion polls. Which the leadership of the Conservative Party never does, does it? The title of IDS’s piece is “Bloggers will resue the right”. But what it blogging rescues “the right” from the Conservative Party?
But, we shall see. Politics is weird. Often something that seems utterly impossible one month, becomes unavoidable a few short months later. Maybe blogging will provoke a big Conservative revival.
Personally I do not much care one way or the other. I agree with Perry that a speedy return of a Conservative government would improve very little, and very possibly make things even worse. My loyalty is to blogging itself. This is where I have placed my bets. If blogging very publicly sweeps the Conservatives back into office, hurrah! If it rips the Conservatives into unmendable fragments, hurrah also!
Or then again, maybe the unanimous ignorance of the modern world and its possibilities will mean that the stupid snakes continue to neglect this new way for them to hiss, and we bloggers will have to spread our enthusiasm for this new and amazing medium by quite other means.