Alex Massie

Red Meat Toryism? Part 2.

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Commenting on this post, Tim Montgomerie writes:

Did you actually read what I wrote Alex? Not once did I call for an end to the new Toryism. I advocated blending new and old messages. I did not suggest "banging on" about immigration but as voters' number two issue it should be part of the mix. I didn't even advocate talking about Europe at all. I said our three main messages should be (1) the economy, debt and regulating the banks; (2) immigration and crime; and (3) protecting the NHS and the vulnerable. Your readers who read what I actually wrote will get a very different sense of my argument.

Now Tim's general point about "broadening" the party and its appeal is well-made and there is, as always, some perceptive stuff in his original post. But since he also wrote:

If only the party leadership had simultaneously talked about Europe, tax, crime and immigration alongside civil liberties, protecting the NHS, helping the poorest people of the world and candidate diversity we would not be in such an opinion poll pickle now.  The Right of the party would never have got so unhappy. Fewer voters would be confused as to what the party stands for.

I'm not sure that I've really misunderstood his argument. You can certainly say that this is advocating "blending" but I think you can equally reasonably argue, as I do, that this is a call for a swing to the right that will buck-up party members and the base no end. Whether it would do much to enthuse people who are not already wthin the Tory fold is another matter.

Indeed, Tim's entire post is premised upon the notion that the Tories should stop apologising for being Conservative. In other words, when it comes to striking a balance between traditionalists and modernisers I don't think it's unfair to suggest that Tim would like to see the traditionalists in the ascendent. After all, that's the argument he makes! That doesn't mean he wants to ditch everything the modernisers have done, but it's odd to call for "red meat Toryism" and then complain that people misunderstand you! It seems pretty clear to me.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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