March 29, 2006

Publicizing a new(ish) venture

Recent political discussions among my friends and acquaintances in Britain have been rather depressed and depressing. We all start off by saying that we absolutely have to get rid of Blair for all sorts of reasons, too numerous to list on this blog.

Then somebody asks rather gloomily what will happen when (and if) he is succeeded by Gordon Brown. We all groan. The idea of that prissy Scot who oozes hard core socialism as well as misery as Prime Minister fills everyone with loathing. (And I do mean everyone. Gordon Brown managed to lose Labour a safe seat recently in a by-election on his own doorstep in Dunfermline.)

Of course, Blair may well not leave until Brown has completely discredited himself. That is my own reading of the situation and I rather regret not putting any money on that before Blair said that he now regretted saying that he would not be leading the party in the next election.

What many people forget is that the Labour Party elects its leaders and, given its slightly crazy view of the world, it may not elect Brown but go for someone else, like the egregious Prescott. Probably not, but you never can tell.

On the other hand, somebody says, brightening momentarily, Brown will not win another election. (Prescott could not win a three-legged race against arthritic tortoises.)

And that will do what, another says. Well, we shall have a …. um … a Conservative government …. that is to say … the Conservative Party will win an election …. perhaps. That’s when the real groans start. For there is no doubt in anybody’s mind. The government that this Conservative Party with the Boy-King David Cameron and his court in charge might form will not be a Conservative one. Actually, it will not be anything but a tie-less version of a possible Liberal-Democrat government.

So, there we are. What is one to do? In my case, the obvious answer is turning to conservative history (with a small c as it is not just about the party and past governments).

Some time ago I took over the editorship of the Conservative History Journal and, having published three issues, have just finished proof-reading a pamphlet on the career of Sir Michael Hicks Beach.

That is not enough in the modern day, even for a Conservative History Group. So, I have started a blog which will, in the fullness of time, be turned into an all-singing, all-dancing website.

In the meantime, I anticipate lots of ideas, suggested postings and (hey, if you dream, dream big) even articles for the Journal from my co-bloggers and readers.

(Link to Conservative History Blog)

Posted by Helen Szamuely at March 29, 2006 10:59 AM

Must it only be British conservatism?

Or can it be conservatism from other places?

Of course no one else has quite the dramatis personae of British conservatism, what with the Iron Duke and Disraeli and Curzon and Churchill to say nothing of lesser figures like Andrew Bonar Law and Edward Carson. But, the rest of the world may have the odd, piquant side dish to offer.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 11:45 AM

The Conservative History Journal seems to be entirely NOT on the Net. How 20th Century. You really must fix that.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 11:54 AM

No, it is most definitely not just British conservatism, though I can't see it straying too far from the Anglosphere, simply because conservatism in other parts of the world (say, Russia or Germany) is very different. But you never know.

Yes, I know it must be put on the net but there are various problems with that - not least money for a good website (lacking). That is why I thought of this interim measure.

Posted by: Helen at March 29, 2006 12:56 PM

That sounds good. Coming up with a pan-Anglospheric understanding of conservatism would be good. Comparing and contrasting with other countries might also shed useful light on the concept.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 01:20 PM

You need to make the link to your new blog bigger and easier to find. I had to read your entire post to find it. I can see right through your machinations, it's a plot to educate the yanks!

Posted by: yankeedoodle at March 29, 2006 03:44 PM

Please turn on site sindication in your new blog add a link to it in you blogspot template.


Posted by: poore richard at March 29, 2006 03:48 PM

I too despair. The Conservatives won't turn out to vote for tieless Dave - and why should they? He's Tony Blair, although perhaps not with the insanely high level of self-regard and Messianic gleam.

What to do? I would suggest parachuting someone in - the Conservatives are desperate enough to vote for a new face - any new face - but who? Anders Rasmussen already has a job, as does John Howard. In a fantasy sweepstake, I wonder who would make the best, meaning most electable, Tory candidate? Any strong conservative American governors with personality and guile? If I'm not wrong, a foreigner can stand for PM of Britain. Maybe that's what we need! An American prime minister! Way cool!

Posted by: Verity at March 29, 2006 04:24 PM

"An American prime minister! Way cool!"

There was a rumor at one point that Bill Clinton was going to move to England. I figured he'd never be able to sit still very long if he was over there. It would only be a matter of time before he ran as a Labor MP. I think the odds of him at least getting into the cabinet would be good. Then? All the way to the top of the greasy pole, to 10 Downing St.? He could probably pull it off. If anyone could, Willy could. So, be careful what you wish for, Verity!

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 04:30 PM

I am going to have to have a translation of that, Poore Richard.

Educating Yanks is my favourite occupation, Yankeedoodle. How did you guess?

Posted by: Helen at March 29, 2006 04:30 PM

"...the link to your new blog bigger and easier to find..."


Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 04:32 PM

I wished for a CONSERVATIVE, Lexington!

Interesting thought, though.

I am not sure that Clinton could get elected as an MP in Britain. His celebrity value would work for him, but the socialists are anti-American. I see him more as an TV anchorman opposite Jon Snow. Or some elevated position in the EU. He could schmooze around with that other old rascal, Jacques Chirac.

Posted by: Verity at March 29, 2006 04:45 PM

Lexington Green writes re Bill Clinton, if he got elected as a Labour MP, that his chances of getting into the Cabinet would be good.

I'm not so sure. If I were an inadequate British prime minister (we're talking Labour here), I would not want a star of Clinton's magnitude, however disgraced, in my Cabinet. I also wouldn't want Hillary power-striding around the corridors.

Posted by: Verity at March 29, 2006 04:50 PM

Thanks Lex. I am going to understand what all this lingo means one day, honest. And do something about it.

By the way, people don't run for Parliament here, they stand. Don't ask.

Posted by: Helen at March 29, 2006 05:00 PM

Well, I bet Clinton could get elected as a UK Euro-MP! He'd fit in perfectly over there. A limo, good food, lots of abstruse policy discussions, the chance to hang out with other ex-hippies now wearing suits, a chance to speak German again, young women with exotic accents all over the place.

He'd be in hog heaven. Rule out nothing.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 05:20 PM

If Rudy Giuliani does not run for president of the US in 2008, he might be interested in crossing the pond and doing something interesting over there. He would probably go over better than a US religious-social conservative. Being of Italian descent, he has an automatic right to an Italian passport, which would in turn allow him to stand for local office or MEP in the UK, thanks to the EU. (This is a loophole now exploited by a lot of Italian-Americans to work in the UK; so far nobody's exploited the electoral loophole.) He could stand against Red Ken, which would be amusing. He certainly has a better track record.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 29, 2006 05:40 PM

Rudy for Mayor of London. Yeah, baby. That would be awesome.

Posted by: Lex at March 29, 2006 05:47 PM

No! Rudy for PM! He is perfect! Whoaaahh! Helen will correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you have to be a British citizen to stand for elected office in Britain.

Posted by: Verity at March 29, 2006 06:10 PM

I don't think Rudy for PM is a practical proposition. My preference would be him as President but he may not want to stand. But Mayor of London - excellent. In fact, I have started the wheels moving, wearing yet another hat, as researcher cum whatever else in the One London group at the London Assembly. We have been wondering who should be our candidate in the Mayoral elections of 2008. I wonder if I should send him my proposals for police reform in London. Heh!

Posted by: Helen at March 30, 2006 02:14 AM

"...send him my proposals for police reform in London."

Of course you should! There is never harm in making a contact.

When is the London mayoral election? Late in the year? If Rudy loses the GOP primaries, maybe he'll have time for a whirlwind campaign in London to succeed Red Ken. Ha. It is rather an insane idea but I am not sure it is literally impossible.

Posted by: Lex at March 30, 2006 06:18 AM

Mayoral elections will be in May, I fear. So, unless Rudy decides he doesn't want to run for president (though there is the odd primary before that) we shall have to think of another plan.

Posted by: Helen at March 30, 2006 07:08 AM

No, Lex, not for mayor of London. London is largely exogamous so the people have no interest in having a well run city and building for the future. Red Ken suits them just fine - gimme, gimme, gimme - and NOW.

I want to see Rudy run for PM.

Helen, am I right that the PM doesn't have to be British born - or even British at all?

Posted by: Verity at March 30, 2006 07:33 AM

Not to sully a bleak but informative post (and I look forward to checking on the Conservative History Blog), but does anyone in the UK espouse Liberalism in the classical, nineteenth-century meaning of the term? Margaret Thatcher’s brand of Conservatism came close to this, IMHO, but in retrospect that seems to have been less of a course change than a one-woman aberration.

From an American perspective, the post-Blair options in the UK seem to range from a more rigorous, less charismatic New Labour regime (Brown) to a more tepid New Labour regime (Cameron or any other plausible Conservative leader)—in both cases, combined with a foreign policy that tilts toward Europe and away from the United States and the Commonwealth. Pretty hard for us Yanks to get excited about choices like that.

Posted by: utron at March 30, 2006 10:52 AM

Just cut out the embarassing messing about. Implement Sharia and establish the Caliphate. You have plenty of suitable candidates for Caliph and have yet to toss even one of them out of what used to be your country.

Come on now, you can do it. All together now:
Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to Christians! etc., ad infinitum. See how easy it is?

Allahu akbar

Posted by: Realist at March 30, 2006 12:19 PM

American pols are generally not accustomed to open debate. A Congressional "debate" is a speech session. There is nothing like Question Time. The UK press might be less deferential than the American press. I suspect that either Clinton would have a difficult time in UK politics, because once the honeymoon was over they would find it hard to avoid hostile questions. Clinton was president before blogs and was tacitly but substantially supported by the media, which ignored for as long as possible his personal corruption and incompetence on important issues. He never had to respond on the spot to questions from Newt Gingrich or Phil Gramm. His reputation for oratory is based largely on his ability to excite sympathetic crowds rather than on anything that he said.

OTOH the current Tories are even weaker than Republicans were in the '90s, so maybe Bill has a chance. He could be our first British president.

Posted by: Jonathan at March 30, 2006 12:20 PM

I am not sure about the status of a potential Prime Minister. I shall have to check that out. In practice I can't see a non-Brit being accepted. Also, I think you are wrong about London (but then I would say that, as a proud Londoner). It has been a great city for centuries and does not need piddling politicians like Livingstone to "run it". The wretched man wants a Mayoral cultural plan. OK, I won't start on that. But honestly! How did Garrick manage or Dickens or Handel or Elgar or Blake?

You are right, of course, about there being very little by way of old-fashioned liberalism on offer in British politics. I think I have said that in different words. I don't actually expect Yanks to get excited about our politics. I can't get excited myself. Verity may well support me on that. But then, how much old-fashioned liberalism is there in American politics.

On the whole the British media can be quite tough but that is a great generalization. Blair had it far too easy for far too long. Funnily enough, what journalists went for was his supposed lying over the WMDs. In fact, he did not lie about them (give or take the mess about the 45 minutes). He was told by every single expert, including the sainted David Kelly that there were WMDs. So he repeated it. What was he supposed to say? But otherwise, I am not sure Clinton would not have quite an easy time. Though I suspect the sexual crimes and misdemeanours might not be forgiven so easily.

Realist's comment is not worth replying to. I don't see any point in comments that simply insult everybody else.

Posted by: Helen at March 30, 2006 05:05 PM

Helen, thanks for your response. Contrary to you, I can honestly see a non-Brit being accepted because I think British stomachs are curdled by British politicians today. We have three communist parties under different banners. Obviously, this isn't what the voters want, which is why the vote has been dropping like a stone down a well.

OTOH, as desperately as I admire Mr Guiliani, I think they wouldn't take to an American because of the spite and envy in the soul of so many British. A nice robust Ozzie, though ... like John Howard, after he gives up the reins at the next election? The Brits like straight-speaking Ozzies. And he is British, because they are a Commonwealth nation.

Bill Clinton's a non-starter (not least because people would fear that after his term was up, he'd be followed by Hillary. And Bill would move on elsewhere ... serial governors.)

Posted by: Verity at March 30, 2006 06:23 PM

Giuliani's qualifications to run London would be indisputable though, and it would rub in the fact that new York is now safer from crime than London, expect for intra-drug-gang murder.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 30, 2006 08:26 PM

Re: Clinton as a British M.P.

His worry would be which Party to espouse. If he chose Cameron's Conservatives, he would be torn between which female M.P. to screw. Not so if he joined Labour, because he would then be able to assist in screwing us all!

Posted by: genghis at March 31, 2006 02:02 AM

Funnily enough Giuliani was here last July when the bombs went off, while Our Ken was in Singapore. The latter would have liked to do a Giuliani but had to leave that to the real guy. Now he tells us that whenever the Mayor is awake (not necessarily conscious, I guess) he is the Mayor, running everything, in contact with everyone. Megalomania or what?

I am afraid the whole plan is a non-starter in practical terms. No, the British won't want a non-Brit PM, however much they despise their politicians. And no, they won't want an American, not even a despicable American like Clinton. But it is always nice to fantasise.

Posted by: Helen at March 31, 2006 02:37 AM

Regarding the comment by ghengis - I don't think there's anything even Clinton would want to screw in the Labour party, and definitely not the Lib-Dems. Amanda Platell has called MP Sarah Teather as "possibly the most stupid person ever elected" and says she looks like a young Dennis Healey.

Helen writes: "No, the British won't want a non-Brit PM, however much they despise their politicians." Well, I note, however, an interesting stirring. A Sri Lankan immigrant has just started a new political party in Britain. The Anti-PC Party and I have a feeling this might just take off. How about a Sri Lankan PM?

Posted by: Verity at March 31, 2006 08:15 AM

A Sri Lankan immigrant has just started a new political party in Britain. The Anti-PC Party and I have a feeling this might just take off. How about a Sri Lankan PM?

Details, please. Any links?

Posted by: Jim Bennett at March 31, 2006 10:07 AM

I'll look it up for you, Jim. I just read about him today, but where ... ?

Posted by: Verity at March 31, 2006 10:17 AM

Your wish is my command ...,,17129-2112070,00.html

Posted by: Verity at March 31, 2006 10:30 AM

OK guys - don't get excited. Parties like that are a dime a dozen. They get nowhere.

Posted by: Helen at March 31, 2006 11:26 AM
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