Hindsight can distort reality. It sems that there is a present tendency to see Mrs Thatcher’s reign through rosy-tinted specs. The New Statesman website recently had a Maggie special topped by an essay from ex MP Oona King explaining why Mrs T insipred her to go into politics. There was also the recent dramatisation of her last days in power on BBC2 which would have been gripping, watchable stuff if it wasn’t overlong by about an hour and stuffed full of confusing flashbacks.

The other day I found myself in a committee room in the House of Common’s swanky offshoot Portcullis House (booked in the name of Jon Cruddas) for a talk by Philip Blond who is directing a “Progressive Conservatism” project for Demos. To think this was an outfit formed of ex-Marxism today alumnae whose founding director Geoff Mulgan went on to be a Blair number 10 Policy Unit mainstay. The article ‘Rise of the red Tories’ gives you an idea of his thinking, although in person we got some stuff on transcendentalism and a critique of the political philosophy of localism thrown into his adocacy of localism and bottom-up politics. In the discussion bit after the invited audience, mainly consisting of people from the Guardian and IPPR, variously (i) poo-pooed his ideas as never likely to find favour with the Tory party itself (ii) asked him to come over and join “the left”. He answered that he had already met with team Cameron and his ideas were influencing David Willets’ education plans.

I don’t think the public really buy that 180 degree about-turn conversion to all things civil liberties and vote blue go green stuff of the current Conservatives – I hope they don’t in any case. Apparently Geoff Mulgan once said of the third way that it was great in theory but crap in practice. Perhaps the same applies to Red Tory.

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