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The Thatcherites were old- fashioned Marxists. They still believed that the societal superstructure was conditioned by the economic base.

They could not conceive that the superstructure could be at variance with the economic base in a country whose economic base was perishing like Britain.

They believed that by privatising council houses, privatising nationalised industries, and overriding local planning regulations to permit supermarkets etc to expand; would change the societal structure into something more akin to a watercolour image of Mid-Victorian England....analogous to Reagan's image of Norman Rockwell America

The superstructure of society was ideal for the Gramscian Marxists because they could change the culture.

Out went the Regiments, Education was centralised with a National Curriculum, Local Authorities were centralised and capped, all power flowed to the centre; the cockpit was prepared for the construction of the New Society which Labour bagan to implement after 1997...not curing problems, merely reconfiguring them.

Now the Conservatives think they can change the Culture and the economic base might change. I doubt it. The culture is now so buckling under the strain of immigration, alienation, and the feeling of sinking while the well-heeled sail by, that I think a future government is heading for a serious national crisis simply because people no longer identify with institutions or symbols in this country and trust noone

"Though [the liberal left] sometimes lost the power of government through election defeats, they and their colleagues almost never lost power in the bureaucracy, the courts, the universities, the media, the charitable sector, and the great cultural institutions."

I'm not sure about all of that. Oxbridge, the RA, Sky News, the red tops, the Mail, the Torygraph, and most significantly, many parts of the civil service. The MoD - fundamantally left and liberal, for example? I'm not even sure about the courts all the time. The prisons wouldn't be full if the judges opposed prison. They've had to be told to send less people there. I trust them to know what they're doing better than me.

There's some truth in the statement, some bits (eg on charitable sector) are just about entirely true - but it's an exagerration, many left wingers would be astonished to hear they controlled the bureaucratic system of the British state.

They are much much closer to control than they were in the fifties and sixties.

Please Mr Ed, many of your points are valid, but let us not go down the American path of making 'liberal' a dirty word. There is nothing wrong with being liberal, in my opinion the Conservative party is the only truely liberal party in this country. It would make all the difference if you could put 'liberals' in inverted commas - the people of whom you speak are not truely liberal, but rather statists who wish to take power away from individuals, restrict free speech, and dictate the consciences of others. Thus they infringe liberty and are fundamentally illiberal.

DC has declared himself to be a 'liberal Conservative', and once upon a time Mrs T, believe it or not, did the same. That is emphatically a good thing.

The idea that 'even when we're in office, we're hardly in power', seems to me to be incredibly pessimistic and to do a great disservice to the lady with whom your picture is taken above. She was most certainly in power, and more so than any Prime Minister since Attlee. To suggest otherwise seems to me to come straight out of Peter 'maniac' Hitchen's textbook.

And it is rather insulting to those of us who have switched from supporting the LibDems also. Am I now unwelcome in the Editor's Conservative Party?

As long as you are Conservative, Sarahty, you are VERY welcome and haven't just joined for reasons of career.

Socialism isn't confined to central government bureaucracy, it's equally entrenched in local government.

Our LEA, though nominally controlled by a Conservative county council, does exactly what it pleases and spends whatever it wants to achieve its goals. It turns Tribunals into Poker, upping the ante by hiring barristers etc. knowing that ordinary parents can't meet the stakes and therefore lose by default.

The LEA flagrantly breaks whatever laws it finds inconvenient - Education Act, Children Act, Health & Safety, etc. - but none of the institutions responsible for making the LEA abide by the law - not even the Council members - are ever willing to take it on even when there is clear proof of abuse. Individuals who try to stand up for children find themselves publicly smeared by LEA officials.

Public services are beyond Kafka, they are Communist. The public faces of public organisations - Judges, Teachers, Soldiers - may do their best to follow the law impartially, but behind the scenes the bureaucrats dispose of the independent-minded who refuse to be pressured into acting unethically. Remember Colonel Tim Collins? David Kelly? Martin Sixsmith?

IRJ Milne, Oxbridge is most definitely dominated by the Left (at the level of lecturers and University workers, though not necessarily undergraduates). The Conservatives are the Fifth party in Oxford, and don't have a single councillor in Cambridge - albeit they still have a fair-sized vote in that city. There is still a basic civility in University life, which means that in general Right wing academics don't get hounded out of their jobs, but they are very very rare.

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