RIP The Conservative Party

Tuesday, 26th October 2010 at 16:41 UTC 5 comments

Its always fun to bash to Tories, but bear with me, this isn’t about whether the Tory party are right to do what they’re doing, its about whether they are actually a Conservative Party at all. The last weeks have seen both sides of the coalition adhering to a hardline Liberal agenda – so perhaps the Conservatives are betraying conservative values as much as New Labour betrayed its founding vision of democratic socialism.

A week and a bit ago, I sat in a pub with one of my few Conservative friends. A professed One-World Conservative, he wasn’t completely against everything his party are up to, but he certainly wasn’t happy, and that was before the spending review. We discussed what had become of the Conservative party, and how it seemed to have jettisoned many of the values that people associate with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I shudder at the thought of a paternalistic approach to helping the poor – I’m glad we’ve moved beyond much of that language – but once upon a time, being Conservative meant believing in a responsibility to through scraps to those on the margins, and to improve their lives for them. Problematic on many levels, but not the Laissez-Faire “their poverty, their problem” attitude of the current government. And that intention is now betrayed.

Sure, there will be odd throw-away gestures, but in a world where wages are likely to go down and unpaid overtime to go up (can there be a more anti-family trend?) I cannot help but wonder if people who tie together their own idea of a conservative approach to the future and to societal values are now left almost entirely without a party to vote for?

Before the election, I had a couple of conversations about why people might vote Conservative around St Michael le Belfry. There was a strong sense that more needed to be done to care for two-parent families, and that somehow the Conservatives were the better choice to match with this. I found it surprisingly easy to put some doubt over this assumption just by talking through the kinds of facilities a family would need, and which party was prepared to tax for and appropriately fund which services. I wonder how these people will feel once the Conservatives have done their worst to destroy families through unemployment, homelessness/ instability of homes, coping with family members outside of care but desperately in need of assistance and so forth.

I have commented before about the way the coalition has allowed Cameron to get rid of the moral mission of the Conservative Party and focus entirely on freeing up big business; essentially dealing with the party who’s personal and social values are most at odds with his own but who’s economic agenda is closest.

Do people who vote Conservative genuinely want a so-called minarchist state, where the only role of the state is to protect the property and business interests of those rich enough to have any from either outside forces or those inside who are left with nothing? Or do they want a stable future for their families, their children safe from the very perversions capitalism is only too happy to sell them? The Green-fields vision of a quaint, happy Britain of old, or the tooth-and-nail capitalism that the Conservatives, with their friends the Liberal Democrats, are now pursuing?

Is the Conservative party really a conservative party anymore?


Entry filed under: Conservatives, Ethics, Party Politics, Politics.

Tazers: In the public interest? Cuts or Taxes?

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Tuesday, 26th October 2010 at 17:43 UTC

    Right, now for a serious comment: The point of “freeing up big business” is that businesses are what provide jobs. I assume that you’re not advocating a communist alternative, or should I start calling you Karl? Other than that, I’m not sure quite what point you’re trying to make. What is this conservative idyll that the party has supposedly abandoned – you never really make that clear.

    One last thing: We don’t have a Conservative government, remember? We have a Con-Lib coalition. That could be the clue.

    • 2. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 27th October 2010 at 10:40 UTC

      On your last point, I was essentially picking up the possibilities around the “betrayal” of voters for the Lib Dems and querying whether it might apply to the Conservatives just as much – essentially taking what few things are good about the Conservative party (the one-world conservativism, “I am my brother’s keeper” stuff) and throwing it out of the window.

      Big business is a badly defined shorthand, but I’m essentially referring to those companies who succeed in not employing people, which is the ultimate aim of any business (Income – Outgoings = Profit, ergo reduce Outgoings, ergo reduce People). I’m sure I’ll write again about the way this government is essentially trying to create a collapse in wages, but its fairly self-evident. And define jobs; is it really a fair job if the company are planning to sack you and move to another country the moment their tax holiday is up? Clearly Greg needs to do some reading on Neo-liberalism and the push for weightless businesses!

  • 3. Lois  |  Wednesday, 27th October 2010 at 14:36 UTC

    Interesting point to think about Graham. I don’t think the Tories have abandoned their ‘moral’ side of things, I think that’s what the ‘Big Society’ stuff is all about- people helping people, rather than the state helping people. It’s just that (as you suggest) they see it as the government’s responsibility to promote but not to do, and the budget defacit strengthens their argument. While I disagree with them (as on many points) I can see some of their logic.
    (PS sorry if anyone has made similar points before, i don’t think my browser is displaying all comments)

  • 4. Clive  |  Wednesday, 27th October 2010 at 19:12 UTC

    I used to believe that the Tories stood for ‘never leaving people behind’. We need to let winners be winners and drive us ever onward and upward but at the same time, never allow the poor and the weak to suffer and perish.
    Before I came to live in Yorkshire, I had no idea of the viciousness with which Margaret Thatcher went about demolishing the communities in Yorkshire pit villages after the miners’ strike. It turned me away from them for years afterwards.
    My problem now is that all the parties seem entranced by money in the form of big business and bankers and I am glad my father, a lifelong Liberal, did not live to see Nick Clegg place his name anywhere near a budger which means that sufferers of dread diseases like MS might be rendered homeless.
    We need to create a society where people are expected to be responsible and love their neighbours as themselves – hmmm is it time for a real Christian Democrat Party ? If so, where do I sign up ?

  • 5. Greg  |  Wednesday, 27th October 2010 at 20:11 UTC

    Graham, you seem to have deleted my comment. That’s a shame, as your post still asks me to bare with you. I intend to keep all of my clothes on in your presence, thankyou very much.

    (I am, however, wearing lycra as I write this.)


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