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Parris advocated crushing himself

This is hilarious. An article from Matthew Parris from three and a half years ago has surfaced in which he says that whichever side of the Conservative Party wins the referendum must purge the other side! This applies even if the Leavers win:

The Peter Bones, the Liam Foxes, the Chris Graylings, the Priti Patels, and the Jacob Rees-Moggs, who would quite reasonably feel their various world views triumphantly vindicated, would have earned the right to take the Conservative brand as their own, and do what they will with it. My kind of Conservative would have lost the battle for the party’s soul and we would do best to step back gracefully and admit it.

Parris has hardly taken his own advice and withdrawn gracefully, has he? And before you say he was talking about politicians and not himself, it turns out he was talking about himself as well:

If the dominating psychology within the Conservative party becomes — as after a Leave vote on June 23 it would — the mindset of paranoia abroad and an anti-progressive irritability at home, then it’s game over for the likes of me

(I wish I’d put this post up a couple of days ago like I intended, because Guido has linked to it now, yet I knew of it before him. Now I’ve missed my chance to say ‘You’re either with Hector, or behind’).

The article is paywalled, but luckily for you I have managed to find the text of it, which I reproduce for study purposes below:

 


 

Tory civil war winner must crush the losers

By Matthew Parris

Many years ago I found myself in the Cavalry Club in Piccadilly with the late Ian Gow (assassinated not long after) who was a super-loyal aide to Margaret Thatcher. I was urging that she approach her opponents in a less divisive way.

Ian raised his face amiably from a veritable bucket of gin and lemon. “As the Lady sees it,” he said gently, “when you’re crocodile hunting, and you manoeuvre a huge and particularly nasty specimen on to a sandbank, you stick the knife in. Why help it back into the deep?”

Older and perhaps wiser now, I have begun to see the Lady’s point of view. Which is why I take with amusement the gurgling among Tories about the importance of bringing the Conservative party back together after the EU referendum. Forget it. After the vote there must be no burying of Tory differences. Somebody will have won. It is the losers who must be buried.

Forget the vapid posturing about the “Conservative family” “re-uniting”. The family is dysfunctional. Its agonies will not cease until it can make a clear decision about what it stands for on Europe. June 24 will be no time to bury the hatchet, but to sharpen it. An argument will have been settled. That’s what referendums are for.

A crisp instruction will have been issued by the electorate on a question to which no party with pretensions to government can continue to offer two contradictory answers. The months ahead are the Tory party’s chance, with the electorate’s guidance, to make up its mind. Once done, let that moment of clarity be seized, not lost in a flood of eyewash about conciliation.

By all means let David Cameron coo about conducting a civilised argument: it’s what a gentleman would say. By all means let Michael Howard and Boris Johnson purr that Mr Cameron would still be the man to hold the reins after a Leave result were secured — it’s what an assassin would insist.

But the Inners know that if the Outers win they will be merciless. The Outers should be under no illusion: the same applies the other way. As is their right, Mr Johnson and Michael Gove have made their choice. The most they should now be able to hope for if they lose is such mercy as the humiliator may choose to extend to the humiliated. Their cause, however, would be finished.

This I maintain for reasons both principled and tactical.

To the tactical first. “Herding” is not a vice unique to opinion pollsters. MPs have a wonderful talent for discovering late in the day, and sometimes to their own surprise, that their thoughts have always privately tended in the direction that most of their colleagues’ thoughts now seem to be tending too. So for the Stay or Leave campaign it’s both useful and urgent to seize what the pundits call “early momentum”. For the Inners to gain it, an impression that vindictiveness is not entirely absent from Mr Cameron’s nature will be helpful as well as true.

This is why we’re seeing such a burst of energy from a sometimes-languid prime minister. “Momentum”, however, isn’t quite the right word. Momentum is what carries on after an earlier push. But in this campaign what both sides know they must seek (and only one can find) is an extra push: the push that comes from new people joining what is beginning to feel like a winning cause.

Our often languid prime minister has had a burst of energy
During France’s 1830 revolution the statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord heard the sound of church bells ringing: a signal the riots were over. “We’re winning!” exclaimed the great survivor and cynic.

“Who are ‘we’?” asked his puzzled assistant.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” replied Talleyrand.

According to reports, as I write, some 40 Tory MPs have yet to share with us their conclusions on the big question of the year. They’ll tell us tomorrow. But make no mistake: they’re winning.

But now for the principled reason why on June 24 there should be stretchers, not consolation prizes. It is often said and is easy to say that the Conservative party should not be gripped by this at best constipating, and at worst paralysing, civil war. Less easy is the reminder that in most cases the only way to settle a civil war is for one side to win it.

Were I a Labour MP, my fear would not be lest Jeremy Corbyn win his internal battles: the electorate can knock that on the head in 2020. It would be lest Corbyn fall, and in an attempt to “heal the wounds”, Labour triangulates between reason and folly, and convalesces in the arms of a compromise leader who can straddle the chasm between the crazy left and the moderate left, keep the whole incoherent muddle on the road, and waste an opportunity in Opposition to think through some brave ideas for government.

There are some seeds that do not germinate until after a fire. For different reasons, the Conservative party needs that fire too. People must get burnt.

You may have sensed a half-assumption so far that the Inners will win. That is my assumption; but I may be wrong. What if Out wins, and a Tory government leads Britain out of the European Union? Does my thinking still apply?

A victory for the Outers will make us paranoid about abroad
Painful to say, it does. If the dominating psychology within the Conservative party becomes — as after a Leave vote on June 23 it would — the mindset of paranoia abroad and an anti-progressive irritability at home, then it’s game over for the likes of me. The Peter Bones, the Liam Foxes, the Chris Graylings, the Priti Patels, and the Jacob Rees-Moggs, who would quite reasonably feel their various world views triumphantly vindicated, would have earned the right to take the Conservative brand as their own, and do what they will with it. My kind of Conservative would have lost the battle for the party’s soul and we would do best to step back gracefully and admit it.

And if the Inners win, we will have earned the right to demand as much from them. I advocate not a sudden, bloody, orgy of croc-sticking, but over the remaining years and remaining ministerial reshuffles of this government a clear insistence that what Conservatism stands for has been affirmed by that referendum result.

For a very long time now, a vague sense of perpetual struggle for the Conservative party’s soul has dogged it and the country. Whatever the result, the message on the dawn of June 24 should be not “come together” but “come over — or walk.”


 

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One thought on “Parris advocated crushing himself

  1. Written, as with so many other Remain comments in the run up to the Referendum, in the firm belief that Remain would win.

    The mettle of a man is shown, not in how he behaves after winning, but in his conduct after he loses. Parris, along with many other former luminaries of British politics of the last two decades, has been shown to be wanting.

    Ironic too, that his prediction of ruthlessness by the winning Leave side should prove so hopelessly (and tragically) wide of the mark.

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