The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron

Colin Kidd writes:

Reason revolts against the notion that cod anthropology might yield a more persuasive account of the Conservative Party’s inner workings than the current insights of political science and organisational behaviour. Yet when confronted with the culture of the Tories since 1945, the mind drifts off time and again to the sacred grove of Diana at Lake Nemi in the Alban hills. In antiquity this idyllic setting was the scene of a ‘strange and recurring tragedy’ which provided the point of departure for James Frazer’s anthropological classic, The Golden Bough. The grove was guarded by a wary figure, a priest and a murderer, ever on his guard against an assailant who would try to murder him in order to take his place: ‘Such was the rule of the sanctuary. A candidate for the priesthood could succeed to office only by slaying the priest, and having slain him, he retained office till he was himself slain by a stronger or a craftier.’

(LRB 24 January 2013)

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