IT’S very early days, but there seems precious little comfort for cultural or social conservatives in Liz Truss’s premiership. Two of the great hopes of the conservative Right, Lord Frost and Kemi Badenoch, have been sidelined, with Frost absent from the Cabinet altogether and Badenoch given the relatively obscure job of International Trade where she will find it difficult to shine. The one potential ray of light is that Suella Braverman, critic of the ECHR, is made Home Secretary. However, the illegal migrant crisis didn’t even make the top three of Truss’s priorities and I am sure most readers are sceptical that any meaningful progress will be made on immigration, illegal or legal.
From the point of view of Brexit, the absence of Frost is ominous and it seems highly likely that Truss will follow the failed conciliatory line with the EU, simply kicking the can down the road by extending grace periods. Not only does this bode ill for the Union but also for Brexit, as the protocol remains not just a drag anchor but also its Trojan horse. As I wrote throughout the grim years of Parliamentary battles that followed the referendum, it was a huge strategic misjudgment for ultra-Remain to fight Brexit so openly and with so little subtlety, when pretending the accept the result and quietly working to enmesh Britain further within the framework of globalist institutions generally was a much better option. They have surely learned their lesson by now, and a ‘renegotiation’ of the protocol by an incoming Labour government would be the perfect excuse to leave us in a worse position than actual membership, with a view to perhaps fully joining again at some later date but at least ensuring globalist hegemony in the meantime.
Badenoch’s absence from a meaningful role is even more depressing but entirely predictable, as it shows that the Tories have no intention of fighting the culture wars or doing anything about deep-rooted issues such as family breakdown. As communities minister Badenoch commissioned a report on the make-up of the modern family which was published last week, finding that family life was a key factor in many of the disparities seen in children’s outcomes. The report has already sunk without trace – it is a tragedy that Badenoch was not give a job where she could have acted on it. This of course should not surprise us: meaningful cultural and social change is a long game, and being a fundamentally opportunistic, parasitic organisation where conservatism has always been a minority pursuit, the Tory Party has no appetite for anything that doesn’t yield short-term electoral dividends. (If one is being ultra-charitable, then one could surmise that Badenoch lacks cabinet experience and an interim role at Trade now may mean she is more effective later on in a major department such as Education, but it rarely pays to be charitable about Tory motivations.)
Whenever there is a change of Prime Minister there is inevitably a semi-orgasmic commentary on how this new broom will transform society, but Truss’s philosophy (insofar as she has one) seems to revolve around that old time paleo-Thatcherite religion of tax cuts. No bad thing in themselves, but it speaks to a shallow, one-note libertarianism rather than the cogent conservative philosophy that the country desperately needs – and the platform, let us not forget – on which the Tories were elected.
Instead, we are reverting to the ‘double liberalism’ which has been the dominant political strand in British politics since the Blair years: the Left drives socially ‘liberal’ change, the Right drives liberal economic change, and both, some tinkering aside, accept the changes made by the other. (The exception to this rule was ironically Boris Johnson’s administration which, the delivery of Brexit excepted, was full-on green socialist.) Although Truss says she will govern as a conservative, the reality is that conservatism remains banished to the sidelines of British politics, where it has been since the 1990s.
Maybe Truss will pleasantly surprise us, but as Nigel Farage said recently, the grim reality of Tory administrations is that they always disappoint. It seems very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’, of the triumph yet again of Metropolitan elite interests who control our shamocratic system of government in a declining society.