Many have taken recent events as evidence that Britain is undergoing rapid and dangerous change, but in keeping Larry the cat at No. 10 Downing Street, the Tories demonstrate their attention to the conservative principle of continuity. Theresa May’s arrival at the Prime Minister’s office has not resulted in the eviction of the tabby, the BBC is reporting. An official said, “It’s a civil servant’s cat,” ending speculation that Larry would have to move.
Brought in to deal with the rat problem that caught public attention after a rat was seen in front of the house on live TV, Larry has added charm and a “strong predatory drive” to the Prime Minister’s home, and the Tories rightly judged that the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office was too vital of a position to leave vacant. Larry’s stateliness and hunting ability contrast sharply with Jeremy Corbyn’s Jacobin cat “El Gato” (“the cat” in Spanish), who is not even provided with the individual dignity of a real name.
Hopefully the first of many, this is a wise choice by the May government, since sacking Larry would be highly offensive to conservative principles. In his Reflections of the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke wrote, “By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of summer.”
Committed to uniting the twin goals of pest control and the continuity of the commonwealth, May and the Tories are sending the right signal in turbulent times.