Tories suffer from a personality disorder, identity crisis – and they can’t spell

Imagine a man, his eyes vacant, his hair dishevelled, his walk unsteady, muttering ‘Who am I?… What am I?… What’s my name?… What am I for?…’ You’d doubt his sanity, wouldn’t you?

Next imagine a large group of such people, each sporting a blue rosette and acting in the same confused manner. Well, now you have an accurate mental picture of the Conservative Party.

The Romney bubble burst with such explosive force that the shock waves have reached across the ocean, leaving our poor Tories in a dazed muddle and on the verge of madness. By Tories I don’t mean the spivocrats in government or thereabouts – these chaps aren’t confused at all. They know exactly what they want (keeping their snouts in the trough for as long as possible), if not necessarily how to get it.

No, confusion reigns among their groupies, those who’d vote for a cocker spaniel if he had a blue rosette pinned to his collar. As part of it, they confuse lower-case conservatism, which is another word for political sanity, with the upper-case Conservative Party, which is the exact opposite of that. At their weak moments, they even think that the typographic style of the initial doesn’t matter, and the two words are interchangeable.

Witness Tim Montgomerie’s article in The Times the other day. The confusion starts with the title: Being anti-State is stupid for a Conservative. Now people who are anti-State aren’t called conservatives; they are called anarchists. No conservative, however spelled, can be anti-State by definition.

Mr Montgomerie knows this of course. He uses ‘anti-State’ the way Barroso uses ‘anti-Europe’, as a term of abuse reserved for those who refuse to accept asinine, destructive politics. Barroso’s bogeymen aren’t against Europe as a cultural, historical or geographical entity. They are opposed to the European Union, a supranational self-devouring Leviathan, a socialist project with megalomania.

By the same token, it’s not the state that conservatives abhor, but its tyrannical excesses. The state can employ or support 10 percent of the people, or 50 or 75 or 100. Somewhere along that ascending scale tyranny lurks, for once the critical mass of state dependents has been reached, the ensuing chain reaction is unstoppable.

According to Mr Montgomerie, any opposition to any size of the state is wrong because that way ‘Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic’ lose elections. I’m not aware of the existence of Conservatives in America, though I know a few conservatives, but then I’m interested in politics only tangentially.

In search of allies Montgomerie co-opts the American neocon commentator David Frum who has made the earth-shattering discovery that ‘the Republicans have won more than 50 percent of the vote in only one of the last six American presidential elections.’ ‘The situation is pretty much the same in Britain,’ sighs Montgomerie.

First, it’s not necessary to win more than 50 percent of the British electorate to carry an election. In fact, you’d have to go back to the 1930s to find a British party that won more than 50 percent of the popular vote. But leaving that aside, what’s the reason for this unfortunate situation?

According to both Frum and Montgomerie, it’s failure ‘to reassure those who are afraid of market forces.’ And who might such timid individuals be? Why, mostly those who hide from such ominous forces under the blanket of state entitlements. Such people see Conservatives ‘as a rich man’s party, worried about issues such as freedom when voters are worried about security.’

Preferring freedom to security? Perish the thought. We might be seen as espousing principles different from those at the foundation of bolshevism, and then Dave and Nick will have to console themselves with cushy jobs in Brussels. Never mind the demonstrable historical fact that it’s the freest countries that provide the greatest security for their citizens. To Frum and Montgomerie security doesn’t mean security. It means sponging on the state.

From this diagnosis comes a recommendation for treatment, the usual jumble of ‘a politics of social solidarity’, ‘blue-collar wages’, ‘dropping the anti-State rhetoric’ and so forth. In other words, Conservatives must become at least as socialist as Labour, if they aren’t already, and then one day they may win an election in the name of conservatism, or rather Conservatism.

This is opportunistic, relativist, immoral nonsense. Forgetting America for the time being, the reason Dave’s Tories failed to score an outright victory against the worst and most destructive government in British history isn’t that they are too conservative. It’s that they aren’t conservative at all.

Their patron saint isn’t Edmund Burke but John Major, who listed ‘a classless society’ among his desiderata, a notion as anti-conservative as it is ignorant. Never in history has a classless society been achieved, not even by states prepared to murder everyone without calluses on his palms. But even this elementary observation is too subtle for our Tories. 

When in opposition, they watched meekly as Tony and Gordon were running the country into the ground under the smokescreen of sharing and caring rhetoric. In the process, grounds were laid for self-perpetuation, for state dependence grew exponentially. Rather than screaming off the rooftops, the Tories hid in the cellar, muttering the same ruinous bien-pensant shibboleths, but in a slightly lowered voice.

Had they presented a clear-cut conservative alternative during their 11 years in opposition, they would have won the last election by a landslide. The planks of their electoral platform would have written themselves, with voters nodding each time: 1) The country is in deep trouble – nod. 2) It’s Labour policies that got us in trouble, not just economic but also social, demographic and above all moral – nod. 3) We fought those policies tooth and nail, but you didn’t want to know – nod. 4) Now is the time to let us pull the country out of trouble, acting on our own prescriptions – nod, nod, nod.

But of course our craven, self-serving spivocrats have neither the minds nor the courage nor indeed any convictions, other than all-conquering powerlust. And now, according to Montgomerie, having suffered acute political embarrassment, they should converge with Labour to a point where even a minuscule difference would no longer be discernible.

If this is the depth of thought we get from our analysts, there is no hope. And what’s this preoccupation with ‘blue-collar wages’ anyway, especially as it’s expressed side by side with a lament that the Conservatives are ‘stuck in the early 1980s’?

In contrast to the early 1980s, blue-collar chaps are now producing 12 percent of our GDP, as opposed to the 23 percent contributed by the City of London. It’s not immediately clear then how getting ‘more serious about blue-collar wages’ would make that much difference to election outcomes. And how can this newly acquired seriousness be expressed? We aren’t by any chance talking about nationalising industry, are we? One fails to see how else the state can increase wages there.

There is a way, of course: cutting both personal and corporate taxes dramatically, encouraging investment, removing most of the stifling regulations, greatly reducing state interference… Oops sorry, I’m sounding ‘anti-State’ and therefore ‘stupid’.










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