Bob Dylan called it pretty much right. When he sang ‘your old road is rapidly ageing’ he was calling time on an old order that went on to die in 1968. The events of that year ushered in a liberal order, revolutionising social norms, which lasted until Thatcher and Reagan in 1980. The conservative era then returned, sorting out the mess left by the previous era and ending the Cold War: this was the time of battle-hardened leaders, with a battle to fight (and win). Then came the Blair and Bill Clinton era, modified slightly by David Cameron – defined by a ‘third way’ unwillingness to move too far to the left or right. And now, once again, the times they are a-changing.
In his cover article this week, Rod Liddle argues that this year has been 1968 in reverse, the overthrowing of political correctness and a return to the values of flag and family. In my column for the Telegraph this week, I say that Theresa May’s style of government – more combative, less concerned with media approval – is a mood of our time. And the ‘killer queen’ persona she seems to be cultivating, as a cheerful Tory Boudica who enjoys slaying enemies, is just what she’ll need – not just for disciplining Tories (who quite like that kind of thing) but handling Brexit. Poor old Cameron spent ages buttering Europeans up, and look where that got him. His appalling treatment in those renegotiation talks is a reminder to everyone: you need to play hardball with the EU to get anywhere. And if the Europhiles see Theresa May as someone capable of anything, and not caring much who she upsets, then she stands a far better chance of getting a deal.
She’d hate comparisons with Donald Trump, but they do have a lot in common.