Friday, October 18, 2019

The retoxification of the Conservative Party

Embed from Getty Images

Back in 2007, before many of my readers were born, I wrote a post here about the Conservatives' announcement that they would scrap Labour's identity card scheme if they won the next election.
This is good news and the Conservatives are to be commended. But I wonder how this will play with the membership. 
I remember one of my walking holidays around the South-West coast from the early 1990s. I spent the night in Kingsand - a charming village across the Tamar from Plymouth. It was one of those magical evenings where you make friends with the locals and people keep buying you drinks. 
Towards closing time, the local Conservatives came in from a meeting and I got talking to them too. They had been talking about identity cards and asked what I thought. I said (a little pretentiously) that I didn't see why, as a freeborn Englishman, I should have to carry a card to show my right to be in my own country. 
Yes, they said, there was one person at the meeting who had said that, but the rest of us are all in favour of cards. There major reason for supporting them was their belief that the country was overrun with illegal immigrants.
In reply Iain Dale - I had quoted him at the start of the post - said:
Even I was a bit surprised by the general euphoria which has greeted this announcement. The Tory Party is changing.
Maybe it was changing in 2007, but it has certainly changed back. I have not seen a single Conservative question announcement that we shall all have to produce an identity document to vote in future.

Iain himself seems very keen on the idea:
Twelve years is a long time in politics and I don't want to be hard on Iain. In the days when blogging was a thing I always found him friendly and helpful.

He was even, along with Tim Worstall, one of the people I copied when starting to blog. Between them they taught me to write lots of short posts rather than pretend I was writing a comment piece for a broadsheet newspaper - we had them in those days.

But all this does lead me to the idea that the Conservative Party is little more than a ruthless attempt to ensure that those who have wealth and power keep it.

They will take on any shape that helps them - libertarian, nationalist, caring, authoritarian, intellectual, populist - much as Boris Johnson will say anything that will get him through the next 30 seconds.

A true Conservative would rejoice that Britain has such an informal electoral system that commands universal report.

But then, as I have often argues, the real problem with the Conservative Party is that it is not Conservative enough.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Exactly like the 'conservatives' here in the US. It's all about maintaining power, they don't care about democracy, and will throw in with anyone who promises that they will be in power...