Various Tory Boys do not agree, however. Iain Dale writes:
The basic attack on Cameron centred around his alleged 'toffness' and that there are 13 Old Etonians on the Tory front bench. He was also attacked for having changed his mind on some issues and his change of language. Big deal. I suspect everyone has changed their minds on several political issues over the last ten years. I know I have. That's politics. Time moves on, the country moves on and politicians must move on. Those that don't move on with the country are destined never to run it. But moving on does not mean abandoning your basic core principles, and Hitchens' biggest failure in the programme was his inability to prove that Cameron had done any such thing.I've never quite understood this idea, expressed by Mr Dale, that you can change your views on every issue under the sun, and yet remain committed to the same "basic core principles". Surely these principles are reflected in the views you espouse, so that if these views change, it indicates that your principles - if, unlike Cameron, you have, or ever had, any - have changed too. As for the question whether Mr Hitchens has or has not proved that Cameron has abandoned any principles he may once have held: well, it would be interesting to know what Mr Dale thinks those were or are. He does not attempt to set them out.
Mr Dale also writes that:
Cameron's success is that he understands that the country is a different place to the one Peter Hitchens thinks it is. Hitchens harks after a moralistic, socially conservative country which Britain ceased to be in about 1965. Cameron wants to build on Britain as it is today.These three sentences are wrong in so many ways that it would be impossible to list them all. Essentially, though, these words, written by one of the country's top Tory bloggers, demonstrate what is wrong with the ascendant 'modernising' wing of the Tory Party. They reflect the moral relativism endemic in their arguments - the notion that because people nowadays lack moral values, the government should ignore them too.
There's also the fact that the notion of "Britain as it is today" is based largely on the views of the liberal middle class chatterers, with whom Cameron might commonly mix. One doubts whether the crime-besieged working class people of Birkenhead - to whom Mr Hitchens spoke - would share Cameron's 'modern' view that criminals are the victims of society. But, as Mr Hitchens pointed out, those people don't have a voice among the political elite. Liberal post-modernist nihilists do, and so Cameron chases after their votes, mistakenly believing that the loudness of their voices reflects the popularity of their views.
All this is both wrong and undemocratic. It was recently revealed, for example, that two-thirds of people support capital punishment. But for Cameron this overwhelming majority does not reflect 'modern' Britain, because it's not a view held by his Notting Hill neighbours. So the agenda of the Tory 'modernisers' results in little less than the disenfranchisement of vast numbers of people.
Mr Hitchens has published a response to the attacks on his programme at his blog. He writes:
I do not think the front lies between the Labour and Tory front benches, where men of broadly similar education and views churn endlessly in the narrow strip of cratered mud they christen the centre ground - each claiming to be better than the other at running hospitals and schools. In fact, none of them is the slightest good at either of these tasks, since - as all proper conservatives know - governments cannot run such things anyway.The whole thing is almost as good as yesterday's TV programme, and I would strongly recommend taking the time to read it all.
No, the front is in the great war for civilisation which is being comprehensively lost at the moment. Mainly, that war is about behaviour. How are we to bring up our children? What ideas should guide their upbringing? What moral system should guide their behaviour?What should be the purpose of their education(This is something governments can influence while then leaving teachers and schools to get on with pursuing it).[...]
In that war, the Tory Party is an active threat to the good side. It lures voters with false promises of action, especially near election times. If it wins, it then does the work of the enemy. Who is the traitor, the Lord Haw-Haw?Me, or the people who repeatedly lie to the British people that they will 'reform' the EU (you might as well try to 'reform' the Alps or the Atlantic Ocean)? Me, or the people who flatly refuse to consider the only measure that would put rigour, discipline and quality back into British state education - selection? Me, or the people who have always been, and continue to be, soft on narcotic drugs? me or the people who are happy to see more mass immigration? Me, or the people who refuse to see the importance of punishment and preventive patrolling in the battle to restore order, because they are blinded to the obvious by political correctness?