Why One-Nation Tories can no longer make an impression on the political establishment

Ross McKibbin

  • Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 by Ian Gilmour and Mark Garnett
    Fourth Estate, 448 pp, £25.00, October 1997, ISBN 1 85702 475 3

Ian Gilmour is one of the most leftwing figures in British politics: a feat he has achieved by not moving. He remains upright amid the ruins of a Keynesian political economy while the two major parties quarrel over possession of the new orthodoxy. He has also written one of the best things on Thatcherism: Dancing with Dogma (1992), a book which will demonstrate to a later generation that not all Conservative politicians took leave of their senses in the Eighties. He must therefore contemplate the last election result with mixed feelings. Since he has always argued that it would end that way – and that the Conservatives deserved it – he must have a certain satisfaction. On the other hand, as a Conservative MP and minister for thirty years and, being of a forgiving nature, still a Tory, his satisfaction cannot be unalloyed. Whatever Happened to the Tories, a book he has written with Mark Garnett, is an account of how all this came about: how the party which recovered so quickly after the 1945 defeat almost disintegrated fifty years later.

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[*] Reviewed by R.W. Johnson in the LRB of 22 January.