25 February 2010

The New Statesman and the Spectator



How times have changed.

To Labour's delight, the lead article in the Spectator has the details (presumably leaked) of a crisis meeting that took place between Cameron's closest aides:

It is as clear to the top Tories that the Conservative election campaign is in trouble; that the party seems to be stagnating. One aide puts it like this: ‘A shark has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we’ve got on our hands is a dead shark.’

A senior Tory MP is blunter still: ‘There is a real danger that we might not win this.’ How times have changed.

To Tory delight, the lead article in the New Statesman is positive about David Cameron:

Like the early Blair, Cameron disguises a steely will with winsome charm; like Blair, he manages to float gracefully over the rifts of interest and ideology that divide his country and party. And, like Blair, the veils of ambiguity that shroud him reflect a complex and contested history.

It is certainly true that Cameron has so far produced nothing more than mood music. But mood music matters. It doesn't tell you what the musician will do, but it does give you a window on his or her soul. Cameron's soul seems to me perfectly congruent with the Burkean, Whig-imperialist strand in British conservat­ism. It was Burke, after all, who saw the "little platoons" of civil society as the places where "public affections" germinated; and there is not much doubt that Burke would endorse the vision of a big society, rich in civil associations and governed on a light rein.

I also suspect that it chimes with the mood of a people tired of incessant badgering by bureaucratic busybodies.

One day, maybe, these weekly journals will return to their traditional political allegiance.

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1 comment:

  1. I think you'll find that neither journal is loyal to a political party, but to their ideologies and maybe that's where the solution to this strange situation lies. The Spectator will always be to the right of the Conservative party, as it's readership is, and therefore has a right to be very critical of the Cameronite position.

    As for the New Statesman article - I think it says more about Cameron that it does about the journal, and could well be the reason his is doing so dismally in the polls.