‘Onward’ is the name of the latest movement — ‘think-tank’ is not quite the right phrase — to try to revitalise Conservatism. It is led by some of the most able of the new political generation, such as Neil O’Brien and Tom Tugendhat, and under the patronage of the only current cabinet minister who never stops thinking — Michael Gove. It will perform the necessary healing work of linking metropolitans and provincials currently at loggerheads — Camerons and Mays, you might say — in a creative alliance. But there is an annoying convention of party political thinking that one always has to be gooey about the future. Words like ‘modern’, ‘En marche!’ and ‘Onward’ attribute virtue to something which, in moral terms, is neutral. What is modern is not necessarily good. Isis is modern, for instance. I shall avoid the same mistake in reverse by getting gooey about the past, but it would be an interesting exercise to start a movement of ideas called ‘Backward’, and see where it took you. The past is really the only storehouse of ideas we have and so, if we care about the future, we ought to make the best possible inventory of it. The Renaissance was based on that thought.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine