Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield. It was also and for the same reason Primrose Day, created by the Conservative Party to honour one of their greatest and certainly most influential leader.
Lord Lexden, the eminent historian of the Primrose League, has an excellent article on ConHome, in which he draws on his knowledge of the first great popular political organization to suggest that something along those lines could be done to honour Margaret Thatcher.
While Lady Thatcher was the first and so far only woman to lead the party, Disraeli was the first and so far only Jew. But in both cases, initial status as an outsider did not prevent - indeed may well have encouraged - the securing of a deep place in Tory affections.It would be hard to repeat the success of the Primrose League for many reasons. Still, Lord Lexden argues his case persuasively.
And Disraeli's case shows that if only someone can hit on a happy form of commemoration, it ought to be possible to do something genuinely popular, which would make up for some of the present weaknesses in Conservative organisation and the dramatic fall in party membership. A party that cannot call on large numbers of committed activists labours under a severe handicap. Perhaps some genius among the readers of ConservativeHome can even think of a project that will bring UKIP activists flocking back to the Tory colours.
Those who try to depict Margaret Thatcher as a great radical leader uninterested in the historic Conservative heritage often claim that she repudiated the one nation tradition. But in reality she drew heavily upon it. Her patriotism, for example, cannot be understood without reference to it. Tories (sadly) no longer hold a great festival on 19 April, but the values it expressed live on vigorously. We should start thinking what we shall do on 8 April 2014, the first anniversary of Lady Thatcher’s death.This blog will be ready to assist should these ideas be taken seriously by the party.
While on the subject of Dizzy, I have been wondering why he had not been given a state funeral. After all, his great rival, Gladstone was as was, surprisingly enough, Lord Palmerston. I am sure Queen Victoria would have loved to attend a state funeral for her beloved Dizzy.
Apparently this was proposed but Lord Beaconsfield turned it down in his will. Here is a list of people who have had a state funeral. Only four Prime Ministers, one of whom, the Duke of Wellington, was given what, by all accounts, was a shambolic state funeral for his achievements as a military commander.