In 1967, the increasingly disenchanted Kingsley Amis published the essay Why Lucky Jim Turned Right.
Lucky Jim, of course, was the title of his 1954 novel, perhaps one of the funniest in the English language.
The novel's hero, Jim Dixon, shares the prevailing vague pro-welfare state views of the time. However, by the late 1960s and 1970s, Amis was one of a number of hitherto leftist writers and pundits moving over to the Right. Others included Woodrow Wyatt, Paul Johnson, and - later - Brian Walden.
Many of these figures became Thatcherites rather than Tories; moreover most ceased to be socialist and became anti-socialist instead.
This post, however, is the story of my journey forty years later in the opposite direction.
By way of background, some personal history. I was brought up on council estates in a large English city. I attended not the city's famous grammar schools (I failed my "Eleven Plus" exam), but the same school as had my mother, aunt, and uncle, the generation before. By the 1980s, it was a huge "comprehensive" rather than a "secondary modern". Apart from my teachers, and the occasional doctor, I did not meet a graduate or a professional until I was about sixteen. Only two or so people in my year went to university.
Against this, the fact that my parents could buy a former council house transformed my family's fortunes at a stroke. Self-reliance was an attractive creed. The attraction of Thatcherism was re-enforced by the Right being clearly right on defence and nuclear weapons (I didn't then realise that many on the Left did not share the CND unworldliness).
So, by 16, I was insufferable. I even joined the Young Conservatives. Harry Enfield had not yet coined "Tory Boy" as a character, but I was his precursor.
As it was, I got dubbed instead after a less brilliant creation, Alan B'Stard.
And, to give the Conservative Party its due, they were kind and helpful in providing opportunities. By 18, I was working in the House of Commons as a researcher, in the very last year of Margaret Thatcher's premiership.
A little after, I was even turned down for a job at Conservative Central Office by the youthful and not yet charming David Cameron himself.
As I got older, I became less interested in party politics. I began to realise that to a large extent it didn't really matter which party was actually in control, certain public policy trends were as-good-as-inevitable. The Foreign Office would always press for closer European Union; the Home Office would always press for ID cards; and the Ministry of Defence would always press for BAe to get large contracts.
Only the combination of a crisis and a politician with an alternative policy agenda would ever break the relentless march of conventional thinking: Churchill on the failure of appeasement in 1940, or Thatcher with the collapse of postwar consensus in 1979.
I also realised that my own personal story of self-reliance, of getting "on my bike" to one of the world's greatest universities for an undergraduate degree, and then gaining various legal qualifications, was not a solid basis for a wider social policy. It became less significant to me that I had done any of that, and more significant that many with whom I went to school, and were no less intelligent, had not even thought about university and the professions, let alone tried and failed. I was an exception to a disappointing rule.
And so, for a range of reasons, I ceased to be an active party member, and indeed I have not been a member of the Conservative Party for over ten years.
I nonetheless continued to think of myself as right-of-centre. The main practical benefit of this was that I was able to tease the various earnest leftwingers I encountered. Sadly, irony (and indeed sometime humour) can be more common on the Right than on the Left.
But I justified being right of centre by calling myself a libertarian. As William Weld, a US politician, once said: keep the government out of one's wallet and out of one's bedroom.
My skepticism about the "State" seemed to apply evenly in both social and economic contexts.
On the social liberal side, I became more engaged with civil liberties and human rights. I began to see the priorities of personal privacy and then freedom of expression as the preferable bases for a properly and fairly constituted society.
But, whilst the economic liberalism was still there, I could still see myself as right-of-centre, notwithstanding the astonishing failures by Conservative politicians and pundits to "get" civil liberties and human rights. (Appealing to Magna Carta is not the stuff of practical politics: see here.)
And then came the Credit Crunch.
My faith in economic liberalism was extinguished (I wrote about it here).
Economic actors, left to themselves, do NOT by some "invisible hand" bring the greater good. On the contrary, economic actors left to their own devices will undermine capitalism itself. Adam Smith's dictum was now wrong. And the political Right will now be without a distinctive economic policy for a generation.
Now that the ballast which kept me (in my own view) right-of-centre had gone, I tipped steeply to the Left.
My objection to the hopelessness of the current UK government remains, but I find my criticisms premised on assumptions I associate with elements of the political Left rather than the Right: taking human rights and civil liberties seriously, distrusting both the market and the authoritarian state, endorsing non-selective and publicly-funded education, and a belief in the merits of diversity and general social improvement as goods in themselves.
I still value my time on the right-of-centre (as I saw it), and I will miss standing alongside pundits such as the brilliant Graeme Archer in promoting secularism and social liberalism to the right-of-centre.
But it is time for me to go.
And I hope I can cease being a Conservative without becoming an anti-Conservative.