George Monbiot, who writes for the deeply subversive Guardian, has recently voiced his concern about the array of right-wing think tanks and lobby groups that attempt to influence the Tory Party, and traces the history of the Adam Smith Institute, that well known museum of economic thought that has fraudulently appropriated the name of the founder of economics, from initial openness to a current refusal to say who pays.
Monbiot also name-checks the IEA, although to those two he could easily add the CPS, IOD and TPA, plus Policy Exchange. What he has missed is the role of bodies like the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) in training what it terms “reliably conservative” activists, which it seeks to place within receptive organisations. And then there is the Freedom Zone.
This is a recent creation, the brainchild of Simon Richards of the Freedom Association, whose recent anti-EU drivelfest I filleted recently. It brings together all of those apparently disparate groups already mentioned in one area outside the secure zone at the Tory Party conference, and has recently been plugged by one of its fans, our old friend Dan, Dan the Oratory Man.
Hannan – full time MEP but seemingly only occasional Tory – will be speaking at many events there during this year’s conference. I heartily endorse this move, as the more Dan speaks, the more glaringly obvious and jaw-dropping whoppers he utters, and the more his credibility declines with those who inhabit the real world away from his adoring fans among the Tory right.
Dan, for instance, asserts that at a Tory conference, “speakers find themselves addressing an essentially Centre-Left audience”. So, while Monbiot rightly identifies those groups and their supporters as attempting to “break” the political system, the vision they are trying to sell the wider electorate is undermined by the rank dishonesty of its proponents.
Moreover, it is further undermined by the unwillingness of that wider electorate to go along with cutting back the public sector to the level of 1939 – or before. Enough people still remember not being able to afford to visit the doctor, or have heard those stories first-hand. Others have heard tell of what life was like on the 30s level of safety-net provision. And this is why Monbiot need not worry so much.
The bodies he correctly identifies are indeed increasing their influence on the Tory Party, and spreading the Government-bashing, Europhobic and state slashing creed through its ranks. But this will only drag the party away from the centre ground, on which all elections are fought, and make it ultimately unelectable. The Tory Party will become ideologically acceptable to the right, but not to the country.
Thus a lack of effective opposition to the centre-left, but that’s a different problem.