On top form, describing why the survival of the Tories is so important to Labour.
Mentioning that he (Peter Kellner - LT) had himself been a Labour Party member for 33 years, he said: "I think it's really important that the Conservative Party does survive as a substantial brand, because there will always be a need for a centre-right party."
Oh, really, I wondered as he spoke. What might that need be, and who felt it? Mr Kellner read my mind and continued:" If the Conservatives were to go the way that Peter expects (and I think possibly would relish) I am frightened as to what kind of right-of-centre politics would then spring up...
"One of the great virtues of British politics...is that we have not had a substantial far-right nationalist xenophobic party in Britain. A substantial Conservative Party is our best bulwark against the kind of politics that I think could become very nasty".
The scary language about 'far-right', 'xenophobic' and 'nationalist' is just the jargon that Labour Party people like Mr Kellner use to describe those who want to leave the European Union, those who don't want mass immigration and those who think that criminals should be punished. As for things turning nasty, I think myself that this would be far more likely as long as there continues to be no mainstream party to speak for the people of Britain on such issues.
He is absolutely correct to see the Tory Party as the Left's best line of defence against the development of a party that was properly pro-British and socially conservative - and the Cameroon Tory MP Ed Vaizey, who was sitting on the same platform, did not leap in to disavow Mr Kellner's endorsement.
He has a point. The BBC believe that it was Rock Against Racism which saw off the National Front. I thinkit was more likely to be Margaret 'Swamped' Thatcher.
The most famous use (of 'swamp') was by Margaret Thatcher way back in 1979, when the immigrant communities in Britain were half their current size. She spoke of people’s fears about being ‘swamped by people of a different culture’ and was roundly assailed for this by people who pointed out that ‘ethnic minorities’ only made up a few percent of the British population. With hindsight, some on the left have acknowledged that this speech, so condemned at the time, cut the ground from under the feet of the anti-immigration far right, who disappeared off the political map for twenty years.
In the light of the above, I blogged on the Tory choices regarding the minority vote and multicultural Britain here.
There are therefore three choices open to the Tories.
a) embrace multiculturalism in a half-hearted fashion as done currently, with the conspicuous success described above, in the hope that the wheels will come off Gordon Brown's bus in spectacular fashion.
b) embrace it and really mean it - go beyond Teresa May's wildest dreams. Major on self-help and education (thank you Hindu voters) and family values (add the Muslim vote). Problems ? Most competent potential Indian/Hindu leaders are too busy making money to bother with politics, Muslim leaders care about politics, but it's intimately linked with religion. The other great risk is that you'll shed party members like autumn leaves, some of whom, perfectly decent people, will find a home in the BNP.
c) accept the fact that these votes are unattainable and all that springs therefrom. Become the political voice of the Native Brits, grab what remains of the white working class vote, campaign strongly against further immmigration while retaining a strictly One Nation approach (i.e. no discrimination of any kind, judging on content of character rather than skin colour etc) to those immigrants already here and their descendants. Risk - a sad farewell to the Letwins and Camerons of this world. Plus no prospect of power for the foreseeable. On the plus side, the BNP will wither away like the State in an ideal Socialist society.
Hitchens view of the Tories ?
The Tories are an unleadable party based on a hopeless, seething coalition of people who hate each other and have nothing in common to enforce unity in their ranks. Some want to leave the EU, some love the EU. Some want homosexual marriage.
Others want heterosexual marriage to have unique privileges. Some want more grammar schools. Some hate grammar schools. These are not positions over which it is possible to compromise. Were he the Archangel Gabriel, and he is not, David Cameron could not turn this rabble into an election-winning force. Nor, if he did so, could he govern the country with any conviction. He would be in office, but not in power.
This means that the urgent task is to replace the Tories with a movement that can beat New Labour and which believes in something, and to do this we must bulldoze the wreckage of the Tories out of the way.