CORRESPONDENCErnLetter From Londonrnby Derek TurnerrnThe Strange Death of HerrnMajesty’s OppositionrnThe Conservative Party still has not recoveredrnfrom the disastrous general electionrnof May 1997, when many Britonsrnswitched their allegiances to Labour andrnan even larger number of Conservativesrnstayed at home, unwilling to vote for eitherrnthe Tweedledum that was John Majorrnor the Tweedledee of Tony Blair.rnTwo years after the debacle, Her Majestyrnstill has no effective opposition tornLabour’s progressive disuniting of thernUnited Kingdom.rnLabour has been extremely busy, tornBritain’s disadvantage, despite the complacentrnpredictions of certain Conservativesrnthat Blair was really “one of us” becausernhe is no longer a socialist. Blairrnand his wreckers have begun the processrnof Welsh and Scottish devolution by settingrnup Welsh and Scottish devolved assemblies.rnThis may even lead to full independencernfor Scotland (although itrnvould be an “independence” under thernclose supervision of Brussels).rnThev have campaigned to ban foxrnhunting, although a Private Member’srnBill designed for this purpose was quiedyrndropped after the massive CoimtrysidernMarches in London demonstrated thernstrength of rural feeling in favor of hunting.rnThey have tried once, and will keeprntrying, to legalize homosexual sex at 16;rnthis legislation may even be in place byrnthe time this is printed.rnThey have indicated that they wouldrnlike to join the European single currencyrnas soon as the opinion polls tell themrnthey can, pre-election claims of beingrn”British patriots” notwithstanding.rnThey have exacerbated ethnic-minorityrnresentments, most obviously in thernStephen Lawrence case (Lawrence was arnblack teenager savagely murdered by unknownrnthugs, whose sad death has becomerna cause celebre among the politicallyrncorrect), and by doing nothingrnabout either multiculturalism or the tidernof “asylum seekers” pouring into our islandsrnto get better washing machines (althoughrnthe Conservatives did even lessrnabout asylum seekers, and talked morernhypocritically than Labour’s Home Secretary,rnJack Straw).rnNot satisfied with all of this mayhem,rnthey are trying to replace the House ofrnLords with an elected second chamber.rnThis will have the c[uadruple effect of destroyingrnone of the world’s oldest legislatures,rnfurther weakening British nationalrnidentity, ensuring that Labour legislationrnis unimpeded, and gratifying the residualrnclass hatred found among Labour MPsrnand supporters—all in the names of “relevance”rnand modernih’.rnWith the possible exceptions of devolutionrnand fox hunting, the above “reforms”rnwere not specifically requested byrnvoters. Some of them, especially the actionrnon Europe and the inaction on asylimirnseekers, are deeply unpopular, ifrnopinion polls are anything to go by.rnWhat has kept Labour’s public-approvalrnrating surprisingly high (even after recentrnwell-publicized instances of Labourrn”sleaze” at least as bad as the perceivedrncorruption that contributed to the Toryrndefeat two years ago) is, first, its undoubtedrnsuccess in education (Labour hasrnreintroduced some of the traditionalrnteaching methods its supporters discardedrnthree decades ago); second, its seemingrnsuccess in Northern Ireland (wherernthe number of terrorism-related deathsrnhas declined sharply); and, finally, Conservativernobscurit}’.rnThe Conservative Party has partiallyrndisappeared from television. Althoughrnthe scale of the 1997 defeat coupled withrnTV’s traditional hostility to the rightrnwould have helped to bring that aboutrnanyway, the part)’ is now often regardedrnas not newsworthy. Many political storiesrnsimply do not feature a Conservativernat all. It is not as if there are no targets forrnConservatives to aim at —on the contrary’.rnApart from the radical upheavalsrnmentioned above, on which the Conservativesrncould easily make some headway,rnthere have been manv’ Labour scandals:rnthe homosexual Welsh Secretary who resignedrnafter his penchant for cruising forrnblack boys got into the press; the LordrnChancellor who has squirreled his millionsrnaway in offshore accounts (ofrnwhich his party ostensibly disapproves);rnand the Glasgow MP who bribed his opponentrnto stand down to the influentialrnNew Labour Minister Peter Mandelson,rnwhose half-a-million-poiuid mortgagernwas so dodgv’ that he had to resign fromrnthe Cabinet.rnThe reason for Conservative obscurityrnis twofold—the party says nothing interestingrnand suffers from a chronic lack ofrnself-confidence. The hierarchy’s chiefrnaim now seems to be to avoid controversyrnat all costs. A symptom of this is therncentral office’s immersion in relativelyrnunimportant adnnnistrative reforms tornthe parts’ machinery, which have occupiedrnthem for most of the last two years.rnWlien demoralized Conservatives wouldrnhave liked morale-boosting speeches,rnthey were told about procedures; insteadrnof organicism, they were given organigrams.rnEven the party’s impressive figures,rnlike John Redwood and Iain Duncan-rnSmith, are quiescent or go largelyrnunreported.rnOn the rare occasions when WilliamrnHague does make comments which arernwidely reported, they seem to be aimedrnat the “center ground,” if such a thing actuallyrnexists, and they always reflect thernmost numbingly conventional thinking.rnHe engages in gestures which are mediafriendlyrnbut disquieting to the party’srnright wing—sending a message of supportrnfor homosexual sex at 16 to the “GayrnPride” festival, wearing a baseball caprnand dancing as if in enjoyment at thernNotting Hill Carnival, and pointedly refusingrnto support either the House ofrnLords as presently constituted or thernhereditary principle itself (implying arnlack of interest in what happens to thernmonarchy).rnEven his chief sop to the right, hisrnpledge to campaign against the Europeanrnsingle currency at the next electionrnand to resist the single currency at leastrn”for the lifetime of the next Parliament,”rnis widely regarded as insufficient, withrnmany wishing that he had ruled out joiningrnthe euro permanently and on principlernand that he would expel the minorit)’rnof Conservatives, like ex-Chancellor ofrnthe Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, whornwant to join the single currency. So evenrnhis most “controversial” policy is onlyrncontroversial within certain parameters.rnOne cannot help thinking that moderndayrnConservatives are solely interested inrnone Conservative tradition, a traditionrn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn