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To which Whitehall department would you look to first for proof of an authentically conservative government?
How about the Treasury, for a recognition of marriage in the tax system? Or the Foreign Office, for the repatriation of powers from the European Union? Alternatively, one might look to the Home Office, for a real return to beat policing; or to the Department for Education, to allow new grammar schools to open beyond the selective Bantustans of Kent and Buckinghamshire.
But what might we expect from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport? Some might say absolutely nothing except its immediate abolition. However, that would be more of a libertarian response than a conservative one.
Culture matters. Not just for its own sake, but because it is the foundation of so much else in our society. It is a point well made by Wilfred McClay in the University Bookman. Reviewing The Fortunes of Permanence by the American cultural critic Roger Kimball, McClay describes the underpinning principles of cultural conservatism:
Recovering this idea of culture would require the rejection of the false ideals of relativism and novelty-for-its-own-sake:
Now, can you imagine a DCMS minister, Conservative or otherwise, standing up for cultural conservatism?
As Michael Gove has demonstrated, the idea of a Conservative minister expressing conservative ideas about education is far from unimaginable. Likewise, Iain Duncan Smith has applied conservatism to important aspects of social policy. Moreover, while we might wish them to go further in their reforms, there is no doubt that the reforming ministers of this Government have been willing to take on the vested interests that stand in their way.
It's a different story at DCMS, however, where the prospect of an authentically conservative challenge to the arts establishment from a Conservative Secretary of State for Culture still seems a long way off.
Perhaps the problem is that politicians, of whatever stripe, have too great an interest of their own in cultural relativism: