Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Tale Of Two "Conservative" Parties - Part 1: The UK

At a time when the left has swung the pendulum hard to the left in both the UK and the US, at a time when the electorate of both US and UK appears poised for a massive move to the right, the "conservative" parties - the Tories in the UK, the Republicans in the U.S. - seem far from up to the task. When we need Churchill and Reagan, we instead have leaders in the mold of Clement Attlee and Herbert Hoover. The problem is particularly acute in the UK.

The UK's political structure has failed systemically. Democracy in Britain does not result in a "representative" democracy. The people of Britain only get a vote for their own local representative. The position of Prime Minister is never voted on by the people, but rather is chosen by the party. The people get no say in the House of Lords - and it is a body that has been politically emasculated by the socialist Labour Party at any rate. Britain has no constitutional limitations on the power of government, despite centruries of agreements that specified such limits and that enshrined individual rights, begining most famously with the Magna Carta. That is because, over two centuries ago, Britain's Parliament declared their decisions the paramount law of the land, thus enshrining what is today a tyranny of the majority. Indeed, it should be noted that the U.S. Bill of Rights is little more than an amalgam of the rights of Protestant Englishmen that existed as of 1776. Unfortunately, many of those rights are circumscribed in Britain today. What all this means in the aggregate is that the wants and desires of the electorate are significantly minimized, the role of a left wing media is greatly magnified, and the desire of politicians to accrete power goes all but unchecked in the UK.

Labour has spent its years in office deconstructing Britain with multiculturalism - including as part and parcel thereof active discrimination against the indigenous population of Britain - open borders immigration, a massively expanding welfare system with incredibly perverse incentives, an ever more intrusive nanny state, huge increases in government spending, an insane energy policy centered on the canard of global warming that is driving up enery costs exponentially and threatens the viability of their energy infrastructure, a war on Christianity, and the transfer of Britain's sovereignty to the EU without the promised referendum of the people. On top of that, only a few short months ago, an MP (Member of Parliament) expense scandal rocked the Labour Party and brought the popularity of the Labour government already at or near its nadir, to a level of popularity slightly below that of the ebola virus.

By all accounts, Labour should be knocked from government in the next election in a blood bath. Yet so weak are the alternatives that it is actually an open question today, but a few short weeks from Britain's next election, whether Britain's conservative party will manage to pull a defeat from the jaws of what should be a victory so vast as to result in a banishment of Labour from political power for years to come. Indeed, EU Referendum reports that the Tories maintain only an 8% lead in the polls over Labour as of today.

When speaking to a very close friend the other day - a woman of uncommon perceptiveness and intellect born and living in Kent - she stated that, while the electorate is poised for a radical move to the right, the problem is that there is no political party to lead them. She thinks that David Cameron, the head of the Tory Party, is the worst kind of unprincipled political opportunist. The Tories, she said, have done nothing to differentiate themselves from the socialist Labour Party and are promising, in essence, to continue many of the same policies that are destroying Britain. The Lib Democrats are even worse. The UKIP is perhaps the only true conservative party, but they are wholly ignored by the media and stand little chance of making significant gains. The BNP is demonized by the media and, while many of their policies are good, their history of racism and anti-semitism makes them an unacceptable choice. In short, the people of Britain are, at a critical moment in their history, being disenfranchised by a broken political system.

My friend recommended a recent article by Simon Heffer as accurately summing up the situation (or, in her vernacular, "spot on.") This from Mr. Heffer at the Telegraph:

. . . The Labour Party has failed utterly in government. It has not merely wrecked the economy, with long-term consequences: it has taken a path of repairing the damage that will, through its emphasis on high taxes, borrowing and public spending, cause more harm before it does any good – if it does any good. It has also been derelict on matters of such significance as our schools, our universities, law and order, immigration and our Armed Forces. . . . Mr Brown's stewardship of our nation has been shocking. He does not deserve to have it renewed.

Yet, despite this atrocity, the Conservative Party has, in the five years since its last debacle, done remarkably little to convince the public that it understands what is going on, let alone that it has any concept of how to make our country more prosperous, better run and generally happier. When David Cameron spoke to activists on the Embankment yesterday morning, one was at once splashed in the face by the cold water of the obsession with image: almost everyone in sight was young, several of them (including a man Mr Cameron ostentatiously embraced with that warm insincerity that is his trademark) from ethnic minorities, a correct proportion of them women. His approach has always been about ticking the boxes of militant superficiality. His main argument is that he is not the Labour Party. Well, not in name, at any rate.

And the Liberal Democrats? They have a flexibility of principle that leaves even that of Mr Cameron standing; a record of opportunism and incompetence in local government (the only place they have had any power) that puts Mr Brown's moral and intellectual inadequacies in the shade. One would be inclined to ridicule them entirely were they not likely to do as much damage to Labour in some parts of the country as the Tories are, and because of the far from impossible prospect of Vince Cable having some say in the running of our economy in a month's time. With various useful independents standing in certain seats, with the Greens in with a chance in Brighton Pavilion, with Ukip a not impossible prospect for the Speaker's seat in Buckingham, with votes being split in a way they have rarely been split before, not just by the Greens and Ukip, but also by the knuckledusters of the BNP, anything could happen.

As I am not an astrologer – and also because I genuinely don't have a clue – you must forgive me if I don't predict the outcome. We shall know soon enough. All that is certain (and here comes another rare fact) is that we shall end up being governed by a social democratic government of some sort. This is not because I expect a coalition including the Lib Dems, though that joy may well await us. It is because the likely programmes and conduct of another Labour or a new Conservative administration will be broadly social democratic. By that, I mean that the state will play a large role in the management of our country; there will a strong redistributive element to policy; levelling down, whether through the education system or the welfare state, will continue. What this means is that a significant proportion of the electorate that wants none of these things will have been effectively disfranchised. Our understandable boredom is tempered by a frustration that none of the main three parties seems to want to represent what so many of us believe in. . . .

For the frustration of the non-social democratic majority in this country has only just begun. No one from the main parties will tell the truth about the need to sack hundreds of thousands of people on the public payroll in order to ensure we live within our means. Nobody will tell the truth about how lower taxes increase revenue, because there are too many cheap votes in bashing bankers who earn lots of money. Nobody will properly defend capitalism as an essential ingredient of a free society. Nobody will champion selective education, which gives such a chance in life to bright children from poor homes, and nobody will be truthful about the pointlessness of much university education.

Nobody will dare to be radical about the corrupt effects of the welfare state. Nobody will take the radical approach needed to counter the results of unlimited immigration. Above all – and that last point leads on to this – nobody will confront the public with the realities of our membership of a European Union governed by the Treaty of Lisbon, which has left us with a choice of staying in on Europe's terms, or getting out.

All these things matter to people who are honest, hard-working, love their country, and seek only to be allowed to get on with their lives, undisturbed by the state, and to keep more of what they earn. There will be millions of voters missing from the polling booths on May 6 because there is an agenda missing from the discourse of our leading politicians, all of whom fear challenging a consensus that exists more in their minds, or those of their teenage advisers, than in reality.

The tedium to come can be obviated by not turning on the television for a few weeks. Newspapers, believe me, will ensure the diet of politics is kept to the minimum: our readers are precious to us, and we wish neither to bore them with the self-importance of politicians nor to insult them by bombarding them with propaganda. Strong drink and martial music may be useful. That still leaves the problem of how Britain will ever be run properly, whether by a tribal introvert who wishes to suffocate us with his "values", or a PR spiv whose "big idea" is to appoint 5,000 commissars to assist the development of "communities". There will be more absurdity yet. "Democracy," wrote Carlyle, "which means despair of finding any Heroes to govern you!" How right you were, Tom, how right you were.

These are dark days indeed in Britain. And there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I would highly recommend the blog EU Referendum for following this election and the various issues associated therewith.

See: A Tale Of Two "Conservative" Parties - Part 2: The U.S.


billm99uk said...

You know, the current Tory party remind me a lot of Britain's Generals - they're always fighting the last war and not the current one. Just like the High Command was expecting cavalry charges in 1914 (and got barbed wire and trenches) and barbed wire and trenches in 1939 (and got Blitzkrieg), the Conservatives have now come up with the perfect opponent for Tony Blair... the election after the one he was needed in.

GW said...

Good point, Bill. Cameron and his cronies seem oblivious to the developments of the past six years.

Daphne said...

If you'll permit my anecdotal observations, I'll meander for a moment, glass of wine in hand.

I found myself involved in the British political debate when I stumbled across a blog run by a Northern Irishman who would make Attila The Hun look like a leftist weenie.

He is a Unionist who was sickened by the terrorism and sectarian war waged between Catholic and Protestant factions, disgusted by his government's appeasement and willingness to integrate known terrorist leaders into the ruling body, while tolerating continuing campaigns of violence and intimidation against the Protestant community.

He's now running for a seat at the table. His name is David Vance and I hold him dear.

His blog has been a good teacher over the past five or so years, since he permits a wide range of commenters very little restraint.

Communists to Anarchists, with a wide variety of the British norms dominating the threads, are allowed to speak. I've made some interesting (and lasting) friends over the years and increased my knowledge about that corner of the world from zero to some at the same time.

Which brings me to your wise woman from Kent. Her opinions match all of the serious political thought I'm hearing from my friends across the pond.

Nearly all of my contacts in London are on board and highly supportive of the UKIP. One of my friends, Paul Weston, is running for a city seat under their banner. Another is very active at the local level.

The Brits I know are all disgusted with Labour, contemptuous of the Tories and find the Lib Dems beneath contempt. The BNP isn't even up for serious discussion because they're so marginalized.

UKIP isn't on the big radar at all, but good people are building the brand, hopeful that they can eventually gain some seats and start turning the tide.

You're right though, it won't be this year, but maybe the British people will be willing to listen soon.

After it gets even worse on their beautiful island.