Weighing in on Ruth's moral debate
, I personally would at least read it, mainly because one of the many things I seem to have inherited from my Dad is an enjoyment of being stimulated to anger. When it comes to newspaper-reading, obviously the content of what is reported matters, but in terms of interpretation and opinion, I don't particularly want to read something that is just likely to make me nod my head in agreement. Now of course, having said that, there are limits - frequenting a BNP conference or reading the Daily *&!% (although I'm getting worryingly into melaniephillips.com
- and I find her quite insufferable) isn't my idea of a good time, and there really is something quite scary about Michael Howard (it says something when it was ANNE WIDDECOMBE who pointed that out to us!). But then again I have noticed myself drifting slightly less leftward than I once was, so I'm clearly not immune to what I take in - I do think it is important, however, to be able to defend my values to myself, and if not, then to adjust them.
Whether linking to it is immoral I guess depends on whether one would say that to be a conservative is immoral. The struggle that conservatism has is convincing people that their ideology is better for society as a whole and not just a subset (just as liberalism has to convince people that success and hard work will be adequately rewarded). Michael Howard said on the party leader's Question Time that the question he applies to every issue is "what is best for Britain?" and yet a few moments later he said that of course he would allow victims of humanitarian evils into the country. To me that suggests a contradiaction, and that he isn't quite able to believe that his own ideology is best for society.
Where the Conservatives has really failed (although maybe it should be applauded over some other parties for trying), I think, is in communicating a connection between morality with the good of both the whole and the individual. With circles of concern having become so small, personal and individualistic (which I don't think the Tories can really absolve themselves from having played a significant role in) it is difficult for a statement about morality to not immediately end up being a statement about rights or equality. But surely unbounded freedom, when it is made the most of (which if we're honest it will be) leads to unbounded consequences - it's just that consequences are for a later time or for other people to deal with. And so when the party of small government, the party who seem least willing to help, are also the party most willing to make statements about their possibly being an element of right and wrong in people's choices, then it is natural that it puts some people's backs up.
I am, however, pretty certain there are many Conservatives who are not anagrams of "Virginia Bottomley", but sincerely believe that conservatism (possibly as something distinct from what was presented in the election campaign) is good. They're yet to convince me, but they are welcome to try.