The Tory mantra was (and still is), Oppositions dont win elections; Governments lose them. That may have been true for much of the postwar period, when Britain was a nation clearly in relative decline, when the economy was regularly subject to wild oscillations and when the spirit of the nation was one of pessimistic fatalism, verging on despair. But in an era of prosperity and economic stability, when Britain is gaining ground on the rest of Europe (partly, though not exclusively, because of economic reforms introduced in the Tory years), this attitude will not do.
Not only will the Tories look as silly as Jehovahs Witnesses, constantly postponing the effective date for their prophecies of doom. They will also find themselves out of touch with the spirit of the times. The trouble with Mr Blairs earlier attacks on the forces of conservatism was that an optimistic and self-confident nation tends also to be attached to its present institutions and to its past history and traditions. An optimistic country does not accept the status quo (just look at America), but equally it does not want a Maoist permanent revolution. What a confident country wants is permanent revisionism, as one of Mr Blairs Cabinet colleagues puts it.