Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tim Montgomerie is moving away from the political mainstream by leaving the Conservative Party

The political commentator Tim Montgomerie has left the Conservative Party and explained why in The Times here. (£)

I know Tim Montgomerie slightly having met him a couple of times and talked and occasionally corresponded with him. I like him despite what is on the face of it a fairly wide gulf between us. I am a good generation older and a Leftie, albeit one without a Party affiliation and with non-traditional views on some things. Like him I would find it hard to be a member of the Party which is closest to my views – Labour in my case the Conservatives in his. I admired Tim’s role in the launch of the “Good Right” with which I have some sympathy in respect of goals if not entirely in respect of the path to reach them! And, if we take out the wrong and gratuitous reference to immigration, I can sympathise completely with Tim’s statement about the present Government

“…the overall direction of housing, tax, pensions…and family policy has been to intensify inequality between the propertied and the unpropertied, between the old and young, and between those without children and those with.”

Tim told me a while ago of his distaste for David Cameron but as I felt it was a remark made confidentially I did not refer to it in my own Blogs or elsewhere in social media. Tim used to refer to himself as a NeoCon though I think that he does not do this now. But his personal allegiance would still seem to be to political point on the heavy Right albeit without any of the bigotry and prejudice that many in that position have. He is not a Farage supporter though I guess Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell as well as Robert Halfon would be bedfellows on many things.

My departure with Tim then is not personal and not because I am a Party hack pushing a Party line (any more than he is). It is because I believe him to be wrong and dangerously wrong on too many things. As it happens these are also the things that he says divide him from David Cameron which suggests that Tim is moving even further to a positon which is very distant from the political mainstream. He is not a politician but a thoughtful commentator – more Seamus Milne than Jeremy Corbyn. He won’t like that analogy but I'm sure that it is valid!

Tim was nine years old when Margaret Thatcher came to power and a teenager for all of her time in office. He clearly had no idea what was going on from personal experience. I was working in Glasgow during the miners’ strike and was close to the action. To believe that the vicious confrontation which she sought and drove onwards was justified you have to be either deluded or ignorant. Or in primary school as Tim was and receiving information through wide gauze filter! Thatcher, the only Prime Minister in modern times to be thrown out of office by her own colleagues, is a strange hero to have. Tim clearly thinks that Thatcher’s goals (The “ends” she wanted) justified the means. If he had been like me in his early thirties when she came into office rather than in short trousers and in a proper job at the coalface (metaphorically!) rather than working on his three Rs he might think differently.

Tim is wrong about the European Union and to suggest that “…nothing registers more strongly on the social injustice front than recommending staying in the EU” is borderline Faragist in its ignorance and bias. The EU, as well as being the primary reason for peace in Europe in our times, is also a force for social progress and for the cross-border sharing of responsibility. It is already clear that in Greece, the most troublesome problem the Union has faced, the social-democratic solution instigated by the country’s leaders in collaboration with their EU partners is working. The Eurosceptics were wrong on Greece as they have been on everything. The doom-laden scenarios peddled by the likes of Tim a year or so ago just haven’t come to pass.

Tim’s own arguments are contradictory. He says that “Austerity” in Greece is causing hardship but he wants the UK’s deficit to be addressed. And the only way to do this would of course be with Austerity. Not good for the Greeks but OK for us. Very odd!

Maybe Tim is not a natural Party man and there is no shame in that. I admire his social conscience and am certain that it is genuine. But his politics are so far from the “Art of the Possible” that they are almost Corbynesque! David Cameron governs from the Centre not because he believes it is right but because he believes it is electorally effective to do so. The General Election proved that he was right. There has only been one extremist Prime Minister in my lifetime and she is the one that Tim reveres. All the rest from Macmillan to Wilson and Heath and Major via Blair to Cameron have been from the Centre – and they have been internationalist as well. I very much doubt that the policies being articulated by Jeremy Corbyn are electable and I am certain that those being pushed here by Tim as his reason for leaving the Conservatives, along with the narrow nationalism, wouldn't  be electable either.

There is nothing disrespectable about governing from the centre. It’s not going to go away Tim. It really isn’t.


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