Sunday, April 24, 2005

1952 Committee: First Update, Introducing The 1938 Club

My e-mails to the 1952 Committee's members have started to get replies, so I thought an initial report was in order.

To remind you, this is the assertion of the 1952 committee's website:

The 1952 Committee was created when the Conservative party, under Michael Howard, backed the introduction of ID cards. For some conservative bloggers this was the final straw and many of them started to declare on their blogs that they would not be voting Tory at the next election. I began collecting and listing these declarations under the 1952 Committee heading chosen because it was the year in which Winston Churchill abandoned ID cards in post war Britain.

So far, my replies fall into three camps: 1952 steady, 1952 wobbly and 1952 retreat.

1952 Steadies

There's a core of 1952 pledgers who have stuck to their guns and still intend to boycott Mr. Howard, and use their blogs to encourage others to consider to do the same.

Starting at home, my co-blogger Ken is in this situation. He's offered his own post on the matter, essentially saying this:

In many ways, I suppose I have a confession to make. ID cards are not the only issue that have made me drift away from the Tories. Perhaps it would have been better for me to have joined the committee as an honourable member. Why didn't I? Because by and large, that group comprised Eurosceptics, and I did not want my views on Europe to be conflated with theirs.

That said, my lack of support for Michael Howard and the Tory party remains. I have said it before, and I will say it again - the Tories are not interested in small government or civil liberties. If they were, then they would consider the freedom not to carry an ID Card far more important than the freedom to smoke or the freedom to fox-hunt. My vote for the general election is still undecided. Yet if Richard feels better with such an assurance, it will not be in the box marked "Conservative".

Dave at Cabarfeidh is standing as firm as a guardman:

I'm not voting Tory because of the ID Cards but also because I think that Blair needs to have a third term to confirm how utterly useless Labour et al are. With luck in 4 years they will be thrown out into the wilderness for 50 years. We need fresh 'untainted' blood in the Tory party. Howard does NOT impress me at all. I met IDS once for a tour round a local factory and he was not the weak chinned Guards twit that some people portrayed him as. Once we get rid of the grandees that infect the party we will be unstoppable!

Andy Wood, assures us 'Don't Hold Your Breath' on him changing his stand on ID cards and the Tories:

My current intention is not to vote at all at this election, as I stated in my most recent blog posting. My views on the ID card issue have not changed, and, since you raised the issue on your blog, I'm in favour of free immigration, so I don't approve of their immigration policy either. I don't plan to write any more posts on the election at present.

To clarify things, I'm a libertarian, not a conservative. I just find the Tories marginally more liberal than the other parties on things like tax and trade.

While I'd have thought he might have encouraged Tories to remember Howard's weakness on ID cards, I think he safely makes the "steady" brigade. Andrew, over at Non-Trivial Solutions, sounds as if he's fairly solid, and I'd encourage him to rouse Labour voters to give Michael Howard his kicking:

Tough call, as it's a toss-up between abstaining and voting Tory as the lesser of two evils. Having said that, I'm not that happy with the timidity of the Tory campaign. I think they could and should go further - opening up clear blue water between the two parties. They're also pretty opportunist, and on the wrong side of the argument, on some issues - notably top-up fees, which any sensible conservative should approve of in principle. On balance, I'll likely abstain. It's partly academic, as I'm in one of the safer Labour seats anyway.

I am mulling over writing a post urging readers to vote Labour back in actually, to give the Tories the kicking they rightly deserve. Trouble is, I'm not sure they'd get the right message.

1952 Wobblers

Ian Grey sounds as if he may relent in voting Tory if his local candidate is opposed to the ID cards. I'd encourage him to check that any promise he gets includes the promise to break a whip on the matter!

I'm definitely of the same opinion, although I haven't ramped it up very fiercely yet.

I've tended to Vote Tory in the past based on the least worst choice, although we have a good Independent standing that will prove interesting.

Surprisingly, our Tory candidate has done the most appealing leaflet so far. I've met him & he is impressive (or would be in Hampstead!). I'm going to question him on ID Cards & also get them all to take the world's smallest political quiz.

1952 Retreaters

Despite inclusion on the 1952 Committee, An Englishman in Philly is a massive supporter of Michael Howard's election campaign; hardly mirroring the 1952 COmmittee's promise to "declare on their blogs that they would not be voting Tory at the next election". He says:

You know my position on this Richard, and you know I'm sticking to my guns against ID cards. My website features amongst the list and Howard did lose my support over the ID cards confusion. The Conservative Party should have been opposed to them outright from the off.

Incidentally, I think this has now been clarified much more and I do not believe a Conservative Government would introduce them. The problem is that it shows/showed a great lack of spine in not standing up to Tony Blair. I would rather see a Tory Government than any other, though (that is not saying much, however!). As such I shall not be campaigning *against* Michael Howard in the way Richard, I suspect, wants me to. Let's not forget, Labour would introduce them and the Liberals are hardly above the fray; Mark Oaten, their Home Affairs spokesman, voted *for* ID cards in a Parliamentary debate on them last year!

I won't back Howard when he does things clearly wrong, but I will unashamedly back Howard when I think he's doing things right. Richard implies he has some criticism for this, but never actually enunciates what it is. My shock at (even tentative) Tory support for this ID card scheme does not preclude me from congratulating other aspects of the party. Likewise, I hope I will salute good policies and approaches of other parties and candidates.

Tim Worstall writes:

As the bill failed, and as they did manage to get their act together (slightly) no, I won't be boycotting them. I'm assured by an old friend (who is a Tory MP) that if and when the issue is reopened the opposition from the Tories will be a lot stronger.

Also, I failed to register in time for my overseas vote.

I shall be recommending a vote of the Tories on the basis that I want Polly Toynbee's head to explode as Howard enters Number 10.

Snafu, who is Not Proud of Britain, provided a reply on his blog, the essence of which was:

I don't believe that ID cards is THE issue that will swing the electorate come the election. I hope I'm not discouraging people from voting Conservative too much. However, yesterday's Sun seemed to encapsulate my views on the present Conservative party. "When the Tories start acting like Conservatives, they might deserve our support. The Tories talk about “small government” then offer a manifesto that would spend just about as much as Labour. They boast about tax cuts, then promise a pathetic £4billion out of a £630billion total tax haul. On health and education, they offer nothing much more than misty promises."

For our first 1952 Retreaters, I shall offer membership of a new committee, the 1938 Club, dedicated to the spirit of equivocation, in contrast to the bullish defiance of the 1952 committee. While they may still oppose ID cards, the pledge of the 1952 committee was quite clearly expressed in refusing not to vote Tory and withdrawing all support from the Conservative Party. The retreaters will be welcome to use this graphic on their blogs (or a smaller version) to proudly display their membership of the 1938 Club:

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More to come...

I'm still waiting to hear back from the rest of the 1952 committee blogs. If I get any more responses, I'll report back.