The election next year is a moral challenge for social conservatives. Deeply disillusioned with the current Conservative Party, one is tempted to vote Ukip, or indeed take a calculated gamble and vote Labour. If one looks at the odds and deals with reality, we know that even a vote for Ukip could return Labour to power, although as I have written before this may not be the disaster Cameron would have us believe.
The question for the social conservative is, is the refusal to vote Tory self-indulgent? Are we asking too much of our leaders who must deal with political realities as opposed to philosophical purities?
I have no doubt that being a politician is a an up at dawn siege – for those who take their vocation seriously – chillaxers aside – and every tiny gain against the Left takes years of hard-fought campaigning and strategic manoeuvres. So sure, it is easy to snipe from the sidelines if you are not on the front line.
The question is – is the current Conservative party in that siege? Is it really in the battle with the Left? The answer must be no. After careful examination of Cameron’s record, motives and indeed words, it is very clear that he is not involved in the long game, he is not engaged in a hard-fought war of attrition to restore socially conservative values to the political mainstream.
Cameron is a card-carrying member of the liberal elite, no more interested in socially conservative values than Clegg or Miliband. In fact, he told us this himself.
Let’s take gay marriage. Cameron stated himself that he supported this ‘as a Conservative’ despite the fact it goes against all conservative values and logic (not that it featured in the Conservative manifesto, mind). It would be one thing if gay marriage was used as a bargaining chip for, say, getting movement on the transferable tax allowance. But Cameron did not do this.
Cameron declared his whole-hearted support for gay marriage, pushing it through despite a massive revolt from Tory backbenchers. In contrast to this, both he and George Osborne made sure the transferable tax allowance was left to very last moment of this Parliament. Worse than this, to get the marriage allowance through, they had to bung some taxpayers’ money the Lib Dems way in the form of universal school meals, a disastrous universal service in a time of austerity.
This is not a conservative PM fighting the exhausting, good fight against the left liberals – this is a left liberal fighting against his own conservative backbenchers. It is also poor planning and negotiating, one disaster after another.
It was only a few years ago that Cameron told his party to ‘stop banging on about Europe.’ Now, in a panic, he makes outlandish claims about his ability to reform the European Union, and the only reason he is doing so is because Ukip and Conservative voters are now making him do so.
Cameron does not want out of Europe because he – like Clegg and Red Ed – are card-carrying members of the pro-EU liberal elite. Sending Cameron out there to fight our corner with Hollande and Merkel and Co is like sending out Neville Chamberlain to keep Hitler in line. If your heart is not in it, the result is predictable.
The only conservative progress to speak of has been in welfare, but this is entirely down to Iain Duncan Smith. This is a man who has to fight tooth and nail for every tiny reform against vested interests. Similarly Michael Gove, at education, has a legacy to speak of that should make a real difference to the lives of British children. But it was hard fought, and ultimately Cameron fired him because of a few opinion polls showing Gove was unpopular among, again, vested interests.
Predictably the head boy fired the underling who was making him look unpopular in the common room. This is not necessary political compromise – it is outright surrender.
Conservative grass roots abandoning their party are not about a bunch of ‘purists’ demanding too much from their politicians. Conservative grassroots are infuriated because their leader is a double agent and a traitor to the cause. Throughout his premiership Cameron has displayed total disdain for their views and concerns, calculating that they have nowhere else to go. How long before Tory MPs decide to dump the pilot? It is time to get rid of the enemy within.