The Guardian has followed up on the unfavourable reaction to the extracts the Evening Standard published from Britannia Unchained, the new book by a group of five 2010 intake Tories which aims to present ways to radically overhaul Britain for the 21st century, lest we face "an inevitable slide into mediocrity".
Andy Beckett speaks to Dominic Raab, one of the book's authors, about the leaked passages, which revealed the authors think the British are "among the worst idlers in the world." Beckett writes:
When I speak to Raab again after the Evening Standard extract, he says it gave "a skewed and inaccurate reflection of what is in the book".
(For what it's worth, the passage – which goes on to state that "we work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor" – gives a "skewed and inaccurate reflection" of the British work ethic itself, as Chris Dillow pointed out in a response. Hopefully the rest of the book uses actual figures.)
Tim Montgomerie, the editor of Conservative Home, tells Beckett that these five MPs, and the Free Enterprise Group of libertarian Tories whose thinking they epitomise, are the best hope of the party:
"It's a pretty depressing time for the Conservative party, but the thing that gives me hope is the [parliamentary] class of 2010, and all the groups they've formed. Of those groups, the Free Enterprise Group is the group. They're quite spiky in their opinions, but well respected by the Conservative leadership. They are George Osborne's favourites. He has spoken to them. In some ways, it helps him to have them, so he can say, 'I'm not the [government's rightwing] outrider.'"
The whole piece is a thoughtful examination of a certain tendency in the Tory party which is growing in importance daily; until the embargo is lifted on the book itself, it may be the best place to go to understand them.