Thursday, January 25, 2007

The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister

Mark Steyns reliably excellent musings about John O’Sullivans 'splendid new book The President, The Pope And The Prime Minister'. The latter are Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher. What links them? They formed a tiny but awesomely influential counter-weight to the prevailing 'wisdom' of the 1970's and 1980's. Each took personal responsibility for turning the self-perception of their constituencies on their heads. Without them, the world would look completely different now.

The biggest question is, did they pass the baton on to people who were up to the job? In my view, two out of three are. George W Bush is a mostly worthy successor to Reagan, Pope Benedict XVI is a doughty force for good- only Tony Blair fails in most respects to live up to Thatcher. Mr Blair may be solidly behind the war on Islamism, but in many other respects he has betrayed the Thatcherite legacy.

This reflects the fact that of all three of those constituencies, Britain has by far the most to fear for the future, and the most bewildering lack of clarity in its 'leaders'. Two full generations of socialist dogma and marxist claptrap in British schools and universities has produced a population bereft of useful knowledge, traditional cultural beliefs about enterprise, and basic economic facts. We now have a political class with no conservative leavening at all.

As Mark Steyn has pointed out in other places, the facts of life are conservative. Trying to govern a country when you have no grip on the facts results in outcomes visible in most African countries. As the Soviet Union discovered, you can manipulate the minds of the people until the cows come home, but the economy just keeps rolling along (or not). And when public morale collapses, or people lose interest in the common enterprise, you need a very strong societal glue to hold things together. What has Britain got? A common hatred of Tony Blair? A common despising of George W Bush? A common appreciation for Chicken Biriani?

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