Yesterday I attended a conference organized by Legatum Institute about liberty and economic growth. I shall blog on it in detail as there were some interesting aspects to it. For the moment I want to concentrate on the drinks party at the end of the afternoon, at which Daniel Hannan MEP spoke as an expert on liberty and economic growth or, at least, the person who is often invited to speak on such matters.
Our Dan is an excellent speaker - witty, clever, full of quotations from the Bible, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek and many other people. He also attacks all the right objects: the EU, overweening government, politicians who meddle in business and so on. In fact, a pleasure to listen to.
The only problem is his inability to explain how the party he belongs to will deal with all the problems he so assiduously attacks. To be fair, he did admit that his own favoured agenda of localism is likely to get short shrift under a Conservative government but added that David Cameron has gone further than any Tory leader.
The real problem is the European Union. Mr Hannan is against it and has on occasion expressed the view that we should start negotiating our way out. Mr Cameron, on the other hand, thinks that we should stay there because that is where we belong and we can repatriate some powers by some mysterious magical means. When questioned, Conservatives between the two will repeat the same mantra: what is in the past is in the past, we need to deal with what we have and look to the future. Yes, I know it is meaningless but you can't expect these people to think as well as talk.
Mr Hannan took some questions and there was one about that very subject. A very smug looking gentleman asked him what he thought of UKIP taking away Tory votes and whether that was a good thing. Having asked the question the gentleman looked around with a self-satisfied smirk as if he expected to be congratulated on his imbecility. I should like to think that he thought otherwise when he met my stony glare but I am afraid I am probably wrong.
Mr Hannan did not, curiously enough, point out that those votes do not belong to the Tories. Apparently, he sees nothing wrong with people saying insufferable things of that kind. Let me just point out: they belong to us, the voters, and we decide where we lend them.
But Mr Hannan did talk at length at the stupidity of people voting UKIP and splitting the eurosceptic vote while it was perfectly obvious that the only way to advance to agenda was to stay within the Conservative Party as he had done and push that party towards accepting that agenda.
Let us not spend any time on discussing whether it is worth swallowing all the stuff the Conservative Party leadership produces in the hope that the party will some time move half an inch in the right direction. Let us simply concentrate on the core message, if I may use that expression. The only way to advance a eurosceptic agenda is to support the Conservative Party. Could we now have some more or less precise idea of how the said party is intending to advance that agenda. In fact, can we have some idea of what they think the agenda is.
Yesterday evening I put that challenge out into cyberspace. I am still waiting for any replies. Maybe I shall get some on this blog.