Recently I critiqued Lord Ashcrofts analysis of the recent British general election. Here is more analysis from the venerable Norman Tebbit:
'Some while ago I wrote that whether the Tories won or lost the election, much of the praise or blame should go to Michael Ashcroft. His book makes plain his disappointment and puzzlement that the worst government we have endured within living memory, probably for more than a century, was not absolutely thrashed. Of course the grossly unfair distribution of seats made it harder for David Cameron. In 2001, 10.7 million Labour votes, against 8.4m for the Conservatives and 4.8m for the Lib Dems, yielded a majority for Tony Blair. But this year, when the numbers were virtually reversed with 10.7m votes for Cameron, 8.6m for Gordon Brown and 6.8m for the Lib Dems, Cameron was 20 short of a majority.
Nonetheless had Cameron earned as many supporters as Margaret Thatcher in 1979 (13.7million), 1981 (13.1m) or 1987 (13.8m), he would have been home and dry. Before the campaign started the Tories had been well in the lead, but the more the electors heard from Mr Cameron and his team, the fewer liked it sufficiently to come out to vote.'
So the crucial question left over from the election as far as the Tories are concerned is, who are those three million people who will not vote for David Cameron?
I think the answer lies in the numbers. Over a period of eight years, thirteen million people voted for Thatcherism. Almost certainly the mostly the same thirteen million people. Have those people stopped believing in Liberal economics and personal freedom and personal responsibility? Very highly unlikely.
So why would three million of them not vote for Cameron? Because what was on offer is not Thatcherism, or even a debased Thatcherism. It is Statist and Big Green. A cursory perusal of the campaign literature and Camerons speeches will confirm this.
So why would Ashcroft tell a different story? Why would he launch one completely spurious accusation against Cameron, that the Conservatives launched zillions of 'relentless counterproductive attacks'? Like I said before, if they did, I missed them all.
Is Ashcroft trying to create the conditions for the next General Election, where his version of history becomes the starting point for how to run a successful campaign? Because the numbers say he will never be right.
Thatcherism was successful because it ditched crucial parts of Conservatism. It was much more egalitarian and against established power and paternalism than the Conservatism of the first half of the twentieth century. It offered the scruffy white van man the heft of a major political party against the snobbery and entitlement still endemic in British society. It offered those with no 'family' the possibility of wealth, success and genuine improvement. It also started down the road of destroying the baleful nexus of government and big business which is the greatest enemy of capitalism, free markets and wealth creation.
But then John Major took over. A man who certainly doesn't understand anything about economics of any variety, or perhaps which shoe should go on which foot. The whole Thatcherite project gradually ground to a halt. With the Labour takeover of 1997, business as usual resumed. As the state resumed its steady expansion, small businesses were progressively squeezed, and big business resumed its love affair with big government.
So there was a choice in 2010. Would the Conservative party restart the Thatcherite project, which is essentially Libertarian, or go back to paternalism, elitism and pandering to whatever cultural fads are current? You know the answer already...