What does the Conservative Party stand for now? Why should anyone think of voting for it in a general election apart from keeping Mr Corbyn’s far-Left Labour Party from power? Priti Patel’s warning that the Conservatives are no longer the party of meritocracy has just thrown this into sharp relief. There is scant evidence, she says, of either meritocracy or political and economic freedom in the DNA of the party today. Moreover, she claims, the Conservatives have become ‘very, very lazy’ in the battle of ideas against Labour.
Conservativism used to be the protector of the people from an over-mighty state, on the basis that politicians are human and fallible and regularly need to be held to account by the electorate. It used to be loyal primarily to the United Kingdom as a free, democratic nation state as against the international socialism of Labour with its wider loyalties to the global proletariat. But this is no longer the case. The Conservative Party, as voiced by Mrs May, decided that its old orientation was nasty, and it decided to adopt the culture and values propounded by Tony Blair and New Labour.
If we look at the state of key institutions in the UK, the picture is grim after the Cameron-Clegg administrations followed by that of Mrs May. Opportunism, virtue-signalling and chaos seem the key markers.
Transport is in chaos and Chris Grayling can only rail at the companies he put in place, while defending the vanity project of HS2, the billions for which should surely be redirected at local and regional upgrades. ‘Smart motorways’ prove to be a highly efficient mechanism for taxing drivers by switching speed limits to create thousands more fines per day, and erode trust in the justice of the system.
Energy, too, is close to chaos and even loss of supply, Hinkley Point being the vanity project again looking out of date and a waste of billions, while new technology beckons.
Policing has never been so chaotic and disrespected, as Telford is revealed as yet another town with a thriving child grooming culture ignored by the police and social services, despite the grisly history of Rotherham and the others.
The MoD specialises in prosecuting its own soldiers. The ‘Blob’ now runs nurse training and has managed more or less to strangle recruitment and retention of capable local women by insisting on sociologically driven ‘degree’ training. The state is now interfering in universities in a remarkable way. Press freedom in the UK has sunk down the world rankings in shocking fashion.
David Goodhart’s typology of Somewheres and Anywheres, in his analysis of the Brexit vote, is useful here. The Conservative Party is unquestionably now ‘Anywhere’ in orientation. HS2 is a classic idealistic vanity project, wanted by no one and achieving very little if anything, without a sound economic case. It is a virtue signal. Cameron said he was passionate about railways – but as a Platonic form, not the reality of helpful railways for people getting to work, the real ‘Somewheres’ being crucified by the Grayling incompetence and inertia. Smart motorways may be great for extorting revenue, but appalling for people using them for work and leisure. The millions spent would be far better spent fixing the potholes in our roads ‘somewhere’. Indigenous nursing recruitment is nearly dead, and yet governments who smashed the ward-based system never examine why the university-based system has bombed, even leading to the Francis Report, which is now safely buried. Local and regional concern is off governmental perspective.
The overseas aid fixed percentage budget is now ridiculed and clearly failing and yet it is a virtue signal, a sign of being nice Blairites, and light years from practicality and actual help. Mr Gove who now runs DEFRA began by assuring the fishermen that the UK would get its territorial waters back. He reneged on that, just as he did on his support for Boris, and hoisted his own virtue signal: solving the world’s plastics problem. This is in full alignment with energy policy being placed on the altar of the green-eyed yellow idol of the eco religion, never mind how high the cost of energy rises for the consumer. The god of diversity is now a very fashionable deity indeed, becoming the main point of all institutions such as medicine, law, the armed forces, universities; excellence is now secondary.
Conservative government is now big state and even oppressive Big Brother, an enemy of the people, not its champion. The ludicrous snap election showed this orientation clearly: seize money from elderly non-wealthy pensioners to fund the NHS. Property is theft, as Marx said, although not for party members. Big Brother knows best, so get used to it.
Conservatism used to bring the state to account but now covers up its chicanery, as in the case of the amber-red warning Cabinet Office report on HS2, which was hidden under the Official Secrets Act. This continued the tradition of betrayal and cover-up as seen in FCO 30/1048, the infamous document prepared by a Whitehall mandarin with Heath and the administration that signed the UK into the EU, showing that they knew the full implications of our slow-motion ceding of sovereignty, and that this needed concealing from the public who would be outraged if they knew. Again the Official Secrets Act was used to cover up this document. The astonishing switch of loyalty to Brussels by stealth is being continued by Mrs May with enthusiastic Whitehall backing.
The Conservative Party could begin to regain some moral and intellectual coherence by attending to the Somewheres, the needs of real people in actual places, including fishing communities, rather than the aloof elitist idealism of Anywhere with grand visions, utterly useless and an astonishing waste of billions. Edmund Burke stressed the local and customary: it is high time our chaotic, fractured, and almost demented Conservative party, deeply incompetent as its Brexit catastrophe reveals daily, regained his vision.