I would like to second what Iain says about Tony Blair. He got the one big question of our time right – and that’s one more than the British Conservative Party got right. The old heavyweights from the Thatcher-Major cabinets have been mostly opposed to the war on terror and the younger guys have been pathetically opportunist – sometimes for it, sometimes against it, sometimes for it but against the grounds on which Blair went into it, etc, etc, nuancing themselves into the special circle of hell reserved for John Kerry self-twisting pretzels. I have no idea of what David Cameron, the latest Tory leader, really believes about the war, and I don’t suppose he does either. He had a meeting in London with Condi and co that was supposed to put the Tories back on the right side of the Bush Administration and, from what I hear, the big ninny flunked the test.
As for all the other issues Andrew is rightly concerned about – personal liberty, Europe, etc – the Conservative Party are hopelessly wobbly on all those, too.
In a democracy, one makes the best of the available choices, and in Britain at the moment it’s between a control-freak nanny-stater who’s sound on national defence and a control-freak nanny-stater who’s all over the map on national defence.
And I’m not sure why Andrew regards Matthew Paris as such a “respected” commentator. He’s an amiable cove as gay Tory wets go, but in the end his view of the geopolitical scene is summed up in this quote from 2002: “In the end it will be America v. the Rest of the World. Whose side will you be on?”
And then he answered the question.
Given the choice between the 21st century British Tories or that Seventies variety show with Bing and Engelbert’s Beatles medley, I’ll take the latter.