Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeKathy GyngellKathy Gyngell: Wanted – a truly conservative manifesto

Kathy Gyngell: Wanted – a truly conservative manifesto


Picking up The Guardian last Friday, curious to see how the organ of the left had responded to the most expensive suicide note in history, I discovered two things. One was that though Gordon Brown would have choked before acknowledging Mrs May as his true heir, he couldn’t bring himself to mention Mr Corbyn at all. The second was that Polly Toynbee, Gordon’s past cheerleader, had no such qualms. Turning herself into a veritable Boudicca of Corbyn’s Marxist Momentum movement she announced, ‘There is nothing wrong at all with Corbyn’s vision for Britain – it’s a veritable cornucopia of delights’. Britain could be so much better and the leak proves it!

I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long time

It is of course no laughing matter. What this tells us is how the tectonic plates of British politics have shifted. Not to the right, as the ‘Remoaners’ and the ‘Far Right’ Tourettes sufferers at the BBC would have us believe. No, the new fault line, or split, that the BBC is so singularly reluctant to explore, falls between the regressive (I refuse any longer to call it ‘progressive’) Left and the far (Marxist/Stalinist) Left.

The Right, except in the form of a few independent websites and even fewer print publications, no longer exists. Social conservatism died in the Conservative Party long ago; now economic liberalism too is in peril. No one should be deceived by Mrs May’s One Show ‘sofa’ conservatism. Strong and stable, she and Phil may be, in their private owner-occupier world of married coupledom, but the only certainty she’s offering the voters (apart from Brexit) is that of the State.  If a stability comprising dependency culture and an addiction to entitlement is what you want for society, you have it.

May is turning the Conservative Party Brown. Dave contented himself with some eco-friendly gestures for a while. This is more serious.  The blue rinse is really being purged.  That’s what the last few days’ dramatic detox (rebranding) was all about. First to go was the name. In case you missed it, ‘The Conservative Party’ as a logo has been consigned to the small print. Then came the turn of the party’s main icon, Mrs Thatcher herself, for the chop.

Without notice, Theresa May has given Mrs Thatcher and all she stood for, more than a metaphorical slap in the face, overturning, nay, renouncing, her signature policy – the one epitomising  her determination to free people from state control – the sale of council houses. Shock and awe doesn’t say it. This was brutal.

Anyone who sees May’s commitment to a new council house roll out as anything else is blind. This is no policy ‘adaptation’ as Conservative Home optimistically would have us believe. It is a rejection not just of a key freedom policy but of the woman who represented the classical liberal tradition herself.  Mrs May might as well have said ‘the witch is dead’.

A couple of days ago Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph asked why is Mrs May moving left when the Labour Party is collapsing. In The Sunday Times, Dominic Lawson provided him with the answer: There are no Tories, only Theresa.

And in the name of Brexit – getting us out of Europe – she is getting her way and surrendering the party to the regressive left. That’s the deal or the Faustian pact, the price liberal (in the sense of free market) Tories must pay it seems. As much as the State for Mrs Thatcher was a force for bad, for Big Mother Mrs May it is a force for good, or that is what her personal Rasputin, Nick Timothy, has persuaded her. It is back to paternalism. But not, I am afraid, the enlightened paternalism of employers such as Bourneville, who provided their employees with quality housing and looked after their welfare and education.

No this is the dead hand of the State, the authoritarianism of its feminist and identity politics. The new maternalist Mrs May may well win a spectacular victory on June 8th. It will also be a spectacular win for regressive politics, to which all parties have now surrendered.

The irony is that there is little evidence that its menu of race, class, feminist and gender identity politics, of political correctness and radical environmentalism, has actually won over most Brits. In fact, in so far as these typify the politics of the EU, the Brexit vote was a rejection of them, and of the deceit and euphemism used to mask their illiberalism and oppressiveness.

Enshrining victimhood in the law, putting the collective ahead of the individual, insisting on ‘equality’ driven moral relativism, far from being inclusive, have fomented division and discord and silenced debate – most significantly on the downsides of immigration.

As one commentator wrote on the site, Mrs May has completely failed to identify the role of the State in promoting misery.

Her solution – to roll the frontiers of the State forward and intervene further – will not ameliorate the contemporary social malaise. It will exacerbate it.

Yet there is no counter-cultural manifesto to challenge any of this, for people to think about let alone to vote for.

We plan to remedy that on TCW. From tomorrow, we will be publishing our writers’ alternative manifesto ideas for a freer, less oppressed, prouder but more truly moral and responsible society – be they on health, education, tax, energy, climate change, immigration or the well-being of children.

Please send us your ideas too – we will consider them for publication.

(Image: NCVO London)

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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