Can you be General Secretary of the Fabians without understanding capital letters?

Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, thinks he has ‘outed’ us as partisans on the basis of a slide in a presentation by our Chief Executive, Matthew Elliott:


“Assuming that Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive, no longer wants to defend the Taxpayers Alliance's public statements that they are not "on the opposite side of the political spectrum" to Labour, and that "they don't have a party preference", will he kindly now gracefully withdraw that and cease this trust eroding double-talk to different audiences? (I can't see that a weasel words defence based on whether you capitalise conservative or not would do anything more than keep digging - though Elliott's slides go for the capital C "Conservatives in Britain" just to close that route off.”


Take a look at the slide.  You’ll notice that both uses of the term “Conservative” come at the beginning of a sentence.  Now, and I hope Mr. Katwala is paying careful attention, that means it isn’t necessarily the proper noun ‘Conservative’ (i.e. a partisan for the Conservative party) but either the proper noun or the start of a sentence.


So, it could be either but there is plenty of evidence that even the most politically naive could use to discover that Matthew isn’t describing the TPA as a partisan, Conservative, organisation.  Mr. Katwala himself hints at one example of many examples, the cross-party think tank Reform, but there is a more obvious one: the UKIP.  I don’t think that a list of partisan, Conservative organisations would include another party.


The phrase “conservative movement” or “conservative” is used a lot to describe the broad, centre-right, movement in the United Kingdom.  Of course, some people think that doesn’t reflect the libertarian strand in the British centre right properly, but for the lack of a better term “conservative” works.


The TaxPayers’ Alliance has no loyalty to any political party.  As well as criticising the Government in no uncertain terms when they get things wrong, we’ve criticised the Conservatives many times.  Sometimes they get wound up and attack us back, and then we respond in turn.


As a former student of the London School of Economics – set up by the Webbs, I respect the intellectual heritage of the Fabian Society however much I disagree with its objectives and analysis.  It is incredibly disappointing to see it reduced to this kind of foolish sniping.


This is yet another sign that we’re getting our message across; the upholders of the cosy, high-spending consensus are getting desperate.

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