“Marriage is the safest and best place for sex,” writes Tory MP Danny Kruger in his new book Covenant, a manifesto for a socially conservative Britain. I know this, says Charlotte Ivers in The Sunday Times, because I had to read that sentence twice, “the first time emitting the sort of guttural grunt of surprise that makes your colleagues look over and ask if you are OK”. It is always intriguing to come across a genuine “faith, flag and family” conservative in British public life, like turning up at King’s Cross to find the porters are all in livery. And yet vast swathes of the public hold socially conservative views. It’s those people that Kruger, a married, evangelical Christian whose mother is Bake Off presenter Prue Leith, is trying to reach.
Unlike most conservative treatises – “more of the same, only better” – Covenant is a call for a “completely different Britain” where local councillors are randomly selected, workers can take paid leave to care for family members, and the economy is re-engineered so that households can be supported by a single earner. Those looking for a “reactionary bogeyman” will be disappointed – Kruger’s love of marriage extends to gay marriage, for example, and he is happy to see women in work. What he wants to change is the way we think of ourselves: “not as individuals, but as people deeply rooted in community and country”. Could his ideas ever actually be implemented? “Who knows.” But against our current backdrop of boring and technocratic politics, it is uplifting to see someone “setting out a vision of such scope and ideological coherence”.
🏏🎩 Visiting Kruger at his cottage in Wiltshire, says Will Lloyd in The New Statesman, you cannot move for “posh clutter”. A cello, a cricket bat, portraits, books, bottles and half-empty glasses – and that’s just the living room. “The best time to be alive,” he tells me, “if you were healthy and wealthy, was the late 18th century.” It isn’t hard to imagine Kruger in a top hat, clutching a cane and “complaining about Pitt the Younger in a tavern”.