Tim Congdon writes….
Two conflicting forces have been at work in the British debate over the EU in the last 25 years, opening up a large space between what people wanted and what their government meant to deliver. But politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. The rise of the UK Independence Party has started to fill the empty space, creating an extraordinarily uncertain and fascinating backdrop to the 2014 European elections and the 2015 general election. The eventual result may well be that Britain leaves the European Union, but the process of withdrawal could be complex and messy, and its outcome ambiguous and incomplete. UKIP has been in existence for 20 years, but in some respects its work has only just begun. Read the full article.
*Tim Congdon is an economist, whose latest book is Money in a Free Society (2011). For Politeia he has written Providing for Pensions and Towards a Low Tax Welfare State. He is Chairman of the Freedom Association and runner-up in the 2010 UKIP leadership election.
Robin Harris writes….
The Conservative Party has generally avoided becoming hung up on bad ideas, either about itself or the country. There have, though, been exceptions. Imperial preference, in the 1920s and ’30s, and European integration, in the 1960s and ’70s, are examples of bad ideas that were highly influential. The first is entirely forgotten. As for the second, a few Europhile voices can still be heard in the upper, older reaches of the Conservative Party, but the European idea today looks not just stale, but absurd.
It is now possible to pronounce the last rites over a further, still more recent, bad idea. For Tory modernisation, too, is definitively dead. It is no longer a project: it is a curiosity. One of the initiators, Matthew d’Ancona, former editor of the Spectator, has written that “the shelving of the modernisation campaign was the Tories’ worst strategic error since the poll tax”. Few in Conservative circles would agree with that judgment; but Mr d’Ancona is right that modernisation has been well and truly “shelved”.
We are grateful to Standpoint for permission to reproduce these extracts from their new issue.
*Dr Robin Harris is author of The Conservatives: A History (2011) and Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher (2013) and, for Politeia Why Britain Needs a Foreign Policy