Baroness Thatcher was on top form at the Centre for Policy Studies last night for the annual Keith Joseph Memorial lecture. Engaging Sir Bob Geldof and CPS Chairman Lord Saatchi in animated conversation over drinks afterwards, it was clear she was enjoying herself far too much to slip away quietly.
Peter Oborne, who gave this year's lecture, delivered some harsh criticism of today's political classes, especially the 'truth-creating, post modern' approach of the Labour government, and concluded by quoting the great Lady on the importance of honesty when facing the electorate. ‘In politics' she declared 'integrity really lies in the conviction that it’s only on the basis of truth that power should be won — or indeed can be worth winning.’ Words spoken thirteen years ago, at the first Keith Joseph lecture, but very timely advice for politicians of today.
And as he paid tribute to Sir Keith as a man who engaged in truth telling even at the expense of his own political advancement, Peter threw down a challenge to the Conservative party of 2009. If they are to to govern effectively in a bleak economic climate, they must 'not only dismantle the apparatus of postmodern government but also reclaim the truth, and look back to their own roots in the British empirical tradition.'
One question remained unspoken: are today's politicians held in such low regard that the British public is no longer prepared to believe any of them?