What I most object to — and, indeed, resent — is the imputation that there is really nothing to choose from between the Conservatives and the Labourites. The parties are merely Tweedledee and Tweedledum. You hear this in America too — “the Republicrats.” I think this is bunk, in both cases.
David Cameron is not a prime minister of Thatcherites’ dreams. But he is certainly a fellow-traveler of Thatcherism, working within the restraints of a coalition government. (The Tories don’t have a free hand; they govern with the Lib Dems.) And there are certainly Thatcherites in his cabinet, doing yeoman work.
Think merely of Michael Gove, the education secretary, who is just about the most valuable man in English-speaking politics. Think also of Iain Duncan Smith, the welfare reformer. These men are doing very hard things, in the face of all the fearsome powers of the Status Quo.
Do you think there’s no difference between the Labourites, on one side, and Gove and IDS on the other? No difference between the Labourites and Cameron, at whose pleasure those guys serve? Ask the Labourites — go ahead. Then ask the BBC, the Guardian, the universities . . .
My hope is that the good people of UKIP aren’t too intoxicated by their recent popularity — and that they don’t despise the Conservatives more than they despise the EU or Labour. If their goal is to wreck the Conservatives, come what may, they need a better goal.
Let me quote Graeme Archer again: “Learning that you can’t get everything you want in this life is hard; perhaps a lesson not learned by those members of Ukip, with their infantile name-calling of the Prime Minister.”
I also find the whole question of class in British politics nauseating — as I find class everywhere nauseating. More Archer, please: “If you think that Ed Miliband is a price worth paying, in order that you can be ‘true’ to your prejudice about Eton or whatever other ‘principle’ motivates you, then you may indeed be Right-wing.” But that does not make you a conservative.
In a democracy, anyone should have the right to run for office, and any group should have the right to organize into a political party. Emotionally, I’m with UKIP, pretty much. I’m sick of seeing sovereignty leaked to Brussels. I love the smile on Farage’s face. I understand why Lord Pearson left the Conservative party, and, for all I know, I might have left with him.
But if UKIP delivers a Labour government — that would be a huge disservice to all.
Joe McCarthy used to say, “I hold in my hand a photostatic copy . . .” Well, I hold in my hand — or have on my desk — a Xeroxed copy of the forthcoming National Review. I see that it contains a piece on UKIP by Mark Steyn. I will read the issue on a long flight, or a couple of them, in the next few days.
I have a feeling Mark is more sanguine about UKIP than I am. And I’m prepared to listen to him, of course. Mark can have a powerful effect. If your name is Sam and Mark says, “Actually, your name is Hezekiah,” you might well think, “Well, I was pretty sure it was Sam, but . . .”
Incidentally, the Desert Island Discs website tells me Mark has never been on the show. Guesting aside, he should host the son-of-a-gun.
I want to tell you about a project — a project of my friend Fred Fransen, who’s an education guru (among other things). Put it this way: If Fred ran our schools, K through Ph.D., the planet would levitate. He is spearheading a project to send a used schoolbus to Accra, Ghana, “filled to the brim with school materials.” Check it out, here.
The project may sound a little flaky, I grant you. But Fred’s about the least flaky guy you ever met. Commonsensical Midwesterner. Conservative intellectual. Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago. I could go on . . .
I’ve kept you long enough. Care for some music, for the road, so to speak? For a piece on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Leonard Slatkin, go here. I have a music piece in the new NR as well: It’s about James Levine, and his “comeback concert” at Carnegie Hall. (Dogged by health problems, he hadn’t conducted in two years.)
In addition, I have a piece on three people who have lived astoundingly brave lives: Chen Guangcheng, the “blind peasant lawyer” from China; Ali Ferzat, the cartoonist from Syria; and Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White in Cuba. They walk into danger, while others walk, or run, away. Meanwhile, I’m helping myself to another brownie.