I was definitely the junior participant in this discussion of the role of ideology in politics, hosted by Anne McElvoy on the Nightwaves programme on Radio 3. You can listen to it for the next few weeks here. It starts at 22 minutes or so. I probably speak the least. Quite right too … MT and PB were in the studio with me (it’s very civilized; red wine in plastic cups).
I’ve met PB before, and ought to have mentioned this before, because it is relevant: Phillip is a charming fellow, eager to please, outwardly openminded, though passionate about his rather strong beliefs. I find it hard to equate this with the outright miserabilism that Sundar demolishes on Next Left. As you know, I am not sure his ideas have the umph and crunchy detail to go far – and since they are illiberal on social and economic matters, I don’t think I will ever approve of them, even if they were practical. In fact, I am not even sure it fits David Cameron’s vision for Britain very closely.
He espouses a social conservatism that dwells on broad issues, such as the cultural causes of poverty, not on the narrow lifestyle questions such as gay rights (on which he is anyway tolerant) that obsess some on the American right. He is an Atlanticist, though not a passionate one, and a gentle free-marketeer.
Outwardly, they both think Britain is Broken. But I find it hard to believe that cheery PB really thinks this, and certainly doubt that he has any decent evidence for the claim – see the Economist on this, as well as Sundar’s post.