Imagine a man who takes his wife to a restaurant on her birthday. It is the Blue Dragon, a Chinese restaurant, because Chinese is her favourite food. They order some dim sum, followed by chow mein, kung po chilli king prawns, and egg fried rice. They then sit talking to one another, anticipating the arrival of the food.
The waitress comes and places the food in front of them. A burger and cheese for him and a hot dog for her. Puzzled, the man tells the waitress that this wasn’t what they ordered, and it isn’t even Chinese. However, instead of receiving an apology, she launches into a defence of the food, the chef and the restaurant, telling the couple how much they have invested to make the place nice, and how much they are going to invest in the future. She finishes by shaking some soy sauce over the burger and sausage, just to give them that authentic Chinese experience.
You’d expect the next scene to be something like that bit in the Basil the Rat episode of Fawlty Towers, where the posh chap and his fiancée finally declare they are leaving after being treated abysmally. Not only that, but you’d expect them to go and warn their family and their friends never to go there, and maybe even to put a scathing review on the internet. But imagine if the couple, pacified by the smooth-talking waitress and the sprinkling of soy sauce, roll over and accept it. Imagine that they come back again and again, to sample more authentic Chinese food, such as spaghetti carbonara, bacon and eggs, and Lancashire hotpot.
What I have just described is the “Conservative” Party, though admittedly far more appetising. The Tories are the “Chinese Restaurant” that doesn’t serve Chinese. They are the train company that doesn’t run trains. They are the cheese shop that doesn’t sell cheese. In fact, they are the Reverse Ronseal party – the tin says they are Conservative, but inside they are nothing of the sort.
Now imagine that the manager of the Blue Dragon resigns, and there is a shortlist of candidates to take over. Their names are Xian Lim, Pavinger Singh, Francois Dupont, and Alina Mrowiec, and each has previous expertise in running Chinese, Indian, French and Polish restaurants respectively. Of course the obvious candidate would be Mr Lim, but there is a catch. The terms and conditions in the contract for a new manager state that he or she must keep the entire kitchen staff (none of whom can cook Chinese food), plus the entire team of waiters and waitresses (none of whom is Chinese, or who can speak the language). Oh, and they’re not allowed ever to serve Chinese food. So whether Mr Lim or Miss Mrowiec is chosen, the one thing that you can be sure of is that you are not going to be eating authentic Chinese cuisine at this restaurant any time soon.
Who would you want to get the job? Personally, I would want anyone but Mr Lim. Get Mr Lim and the fantasy persists that this is a real Chinese restaurant, whereas in fact it is an establishment with a sort of Chinese restaurant name and a bottle of soy sauce, but which doesn’t actually sell Chinese food. Mr Lim just gets you more of the same, whereas if Miss Mrowiec, or Mr Singh, or M. Dupont get the job, it might well be the one and only chance that someone, somewhere will finally wake up to the fact that this is not actually a real Chinese restaurant – it is a fraud masquerading as one – and that it is high time a real Chinese restaurant was opened, selling proper Chinese food.
Which is why in some respects I am actually less perturbed by the imminent election of Mrs Theresa May by the Party of the Blue Rosettes than I should be. Don’t misunderstand me, Mrs May as Prime Minister fills me with a sort of creeping horror. She is not merely socially liberal, but she is a social liberal of the worst order – one who is prepared to enact draconian legislation that could easily be used to silence those who refuse to agree with her social liberal agenda. To put a slight twist to Ann Widdecombe’s observation of Michael Howard some years ago, Mrs May “has something of the totalitarian about her”.
What good would it actually do if that party were to elect someone slightly more conservative than Mrs May (that’s not difficult, by the way, and even Jeremy Corbyn would probably qualify)? The party is a joke, and just like the Blue Dragon myth, having someone a little bit conservative leading a party that is anything but, would serve only to perpetuate the fraud that this is a real Conservative Party. Mrs May, on the other hand, is the perfect fit, and her election is exactly what I would expect from a socially liberal party that has again and again had no scruples about kicking its voters in the teeth, only to remain intact and give those same voters no real alternative at election after election.
And they’re at it again. Having seen the vote on 23rd June, and having noted what the majority of people decided, they’re actually about to elect a woman who was on the losing side, and someone who has made it clear that she will not invoke Article 50 this year. How about next year? Or the year after? Her game is extraordinarily transparent. Become leader. Kick the can of Article 50 along the road. Make a pretence at negotiating. Keep on kicking it. Get to general election. Tie it all in with the election. Win election. Chuck can in the bin for good.
I hope that her election could be the moment when people finally stop putting their hopes in this absurd party, and realise that this particular Chinese restaurant does not sell Chinese, and has no intention of ever selling Chinese. Therefore, why care about who runs it? Forget about it. Instead, let’s put our energies into creating a new movement; a properly socially conservative movement, which really does do what is says on the tin.