Conservatives need respectable bête noir

While I don’t agree with most of what New Statesman cultural editor Jonathan Derbyshire had to say in ‘The meaning of conservatism’, I nevertheless found the essay irresistible – for at least engaging in a conversation about conservatism that is critically necessary in the West, and because that project is, unfortunately, no more advanced than it was three years ago.

Bob Hawke
Robert James Lee Hawke.

Perhaps the most telling absence in Derbyshire’s essay was a consideration of the fundamentals in a healthy democracy: well-led parties opposing each other effectively on policy matters to promote robust debate and the emergence of better policy than would accrue from no debate, or discussion by pedestrian intellects only. I forgive Derbyshire’s omission for reasons of brevity and on-topic focus, but it is nevertheless a suitable starting point here.

On the day of Barack Obama’s re-election, one of the Australian commentators in the local election coverage was former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who made a characteristically acerbic and yet irresistibly accurate observation: there are no great leaders anywhere in the world at this time.

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