Once you boil down Tim Montgomerie’s tilt at libertarians in his party, there’s not a lot left in the pan. On the basis of a dodgy poll, in which participants were given a choice of socialism, anarchism and … err … everything in between, and ‘only’ five per cent chose anarchism, Monty declares it’s time to cut the libertarian rhetoric, and get back to the caring conservative meme.
What he says does make sense for his party, once you consider its role in the nation’s governance. This is played in tandem with the Labour Party. Hand in hand, they have built the state machinery, each in turn innovating in particular directions, knowing that these innovations, with the odd exception, will be maintained by the other party after the periodic hand-over.
Often it has been Labour, infused with Fabian long-marchism, which has forged ahead, cutting through the fleshy limitations of state and into the bone of our liberties. So it was with the grand nationalisations of heavy industry and health services after WWII. But recall that the Tories were back in power from 1951 to 1964, and nothing was rolled back. Blinkered by their conservatism they’ll defend almost anything, as long as it’s been around a few years. The Tories are not much for changing. Their argument is only that they make the better managers. Maggie was something of an exception, breaking the ‘consensus’, but it seems to be mended now.
Tim does, however, declare his own belief in a smaller state, somewhere towards the bottom of the page. What he’s really objecting to is anything that sounds like banging on about welfare being bad for people, which is what libertarianism means to the average Tory. Yes, it’s true that a libertarian would argue this, but there is more to libertarianism than this, and if he’s concerned his party’s getting a reputation as libertarian, I can reassure him that his fears are unfounded.