The Establishment failed decent Tories

There is a class of Tory who would have liked to believe in a benign Establishment that looked after them, and indeed looked after everyone. Instead, they feel betrayed. Such Tories knew that (expensively and only after a fashion) the state looked after  the poor; but they believed Tories should provide for themselves. By the mid-1990s many such people from every class had started businesses and bought pensions. Many watched their pensions wither, and then were whacked – let alone petrified – by the crash.

They are Conservatives in part because they want to believe they live in a society with membranes of trustworthiness, generated by the professions, serious journalism, senior politicians, academia, the Great and the Good, and great firms.  The New Labour nomenklatura (I think, perhaps unfairly in some cases, of Martin Taylor, Howard Davies, Denis Stevenson and Adair Turner) didn’t help. The Bank of England’s famous eyebrows remained motionless. The rock-steady High Street bank manager took early retirement. The banking regulators and those self-appointed arbiters of sensible behaviour, the media , were part of the mass delusion of the financial industry. The City (whose role here I discuss in another post) hosted dinners and looked quaint. It is a wonder that more of England’s lower middle class didn’t go Ukip. But Tories are loyal if disappointed realists.

The Establishment in England never had the power the left and Anthony Sampson accorded it. Nonetheless, it had a real value – not for its Machiavellian wickedness – but for its decency and intelligence. Recent failures almost please the left, since a left-winger’s prejudices are nicely served by calamity at the top.  But for the right, such disasters are no pleasure. We badly need to restore the Establishment.

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Publication date

23 April 2015