Wednesday, July 28, 2004

NuCons on the march?

As readers of this blog know, we take no political side as far as parties are concerned. My colleague dislikes them all and I remain wary of their machinations and despairing of their political silliness. However, that does not mean that we take no interest in what they are up to.

One story seems to have been making its way round much of the media in the last few days: that of the new Conservative Notting Hillbillies.

Briefly the story runs like this: there is a group of young(ish) glamorous Conservatives - some blue-blooded, others not so – in politics, behind the scenes, in the media, who all live close to each other in Notting Hill Gate (though as one who knows the area well, I’d say the definition is somewhat lose), socialize with each other and are making their way through the Conservative Party in the same way as the Islington mafia of Blair, Brown and Mandelson with assorted hangers on made their way through the Labour Party in the early nineties.

The old-timers are complaining but the NuCons care not. They have positioned themselves to be the next wave of … well, what exactly? The analogy breaks down rather quickly. The most important thing about the Islington NuLab mob is, after all, that they made the Labour Party electable. The NuCons, if, indeed, they are influential in the highest reaches of the Conservative Party, have turned the Michael Howard of the sudden surge in popularity at his election as leader into a man who is unelectable.

In itself the notion that the Conservative Party needs new blood, new ideas or, indeed, any ideas is hardly radical. The shock-horror outcry of the old timers leaves one cold. These are the people who have given us the two most catastrophic electoral results of the modern Conservative history. Their political ideas are of little interest.

Nevertheless, one is entitled to ask what exactly is the story here. Are there new ideas percolating from the Notting Hill NuCons through Rachel Whetstone, Howard’s political adviser and a member of the mob? If so, what are they? According the to the business journalist, George Trefgarne, also a supposed member of the mob, they are largely eurosceptic, small government and socially liberal. All a bit vague but possible. The trouble is that there seems to have been a break-down in communications between Trefgarne and supposed company, Whetstone and Howard, as the latter has not actually mentioned any of this.

Other commentators say that the group has no particular ideas or policies but just likes sitting around in chic wine bars and each other’s kitchens discussing their bright future. They are using their undoubted personal success to advance any political idea that might win the election. Again, there must have been a break-down in communications: the Conservative Party at present seems to have no chance of winning the parish hall tombola.

Again we ask: what is the point of these political non-stories? Is there really nothing else to write about? When and if the NuCons come up with coherent ideas and show themselves able to develop policies that are taken up or could be taken up by their elders if not exactly betters, well, let us hear about them. In the meantime, may we suggest, respectfully, of course, to the ladies and gentlemen of the media that they should start paying some attention to real news? And may we, equally respectfully, remind the ladies and gentlemen of the Conservative Party that their time is running out? They should put away their childish toys and start paying attention to reality.

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