Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Willets vs. Davis?

A good post on the Observer Blog about David Willets, one of those middling tories I've never taken much notice of. In fact until I checked (just now), I thought it was him, not Andrew Lansley, who was after rebranding the tories 'Reform Conservatives'.

You can imagine the thought process. "Labour... Unelectable. New Labour... Electable! Conservatives... Unelectable. Reform Conservatives...".

But no, Willets seems a bit more sensible. The speech quoted on the blog is good Tory Common Sense (if such a thing exists), and his interview with the Guardian on Monday suggests that he's identifying and dealing with real issues facing his fast-fading party. Like, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, author of The Strange Death of Tory England, Willetts is concerned about:

"The retreat of institutions which he admits "are not as central to our national life as they once were" - and which used to embody Tory feelings towards society and what he calls "non-state collective action".

By this he means the Church of England, the armed forces ("lots of Tory MPs were in the army"), landed estates and local government in which people served. "These were the unstated values that provided a counterbalance to the economic reform and freedom agendas. Those values have been submerged, I am trying to rediscover them."

Not sure I like the idea of relocating these traditional instincts, but he seems a good bet for a more sensible kind of Tory leader.

He hasn't got a hope...

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