If you can't beat 'em...

January 28, 2005

The unexamined assumption in Kieron O'Hara's otherwise persuasive piece on conservatism is the notion that the contemporary Conservative Party is conservative in the way he delineates that ideology ("The right must get radical...", January 21). There are good reasons for thinking that it is not and has not been conservative for some decades. The Heathite view that O'Hara identifies with "conservatism" was vanquished in a neoliberal putsch that brought Thatcher to power.

The Conservative Party is still Thatcherite and incapable of thinking past the market as the source of solutions for public sector "problems".

Given new Labour's enthusiasm for the marketisation of the public sphere, the problem facing the Conservative Party is that it lacks a rationale. As Robert Jackson's defection shows, the rational response of the contemporary conservative is not to oppose new Labour, but to join it.

Simon Tormey
Nottingham University

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