NORMAN Lamont’s damning indictment of the Major Government, ‘In office but not in power’, has been oft quoted these past three years, as the spiritually vampiric Theresa May cast her deathly pall over the land: a bloodless cadaver politically neither dead nor alive, yet horribly immortal. All attempts to exorcise her unquiet spirit had failed pathetically, the Graham Brady bunch proving more Scooby Doo than Peter Cushing.
And then Van Helsing arrived in the shape of the Brexit Party, steadfast in faith in the power of the cross.
The cross being the one on the ballot paper, and – with respect to the good Lord – nothing is more powerful when it comes to motivating gun-shy Tories. May was gone even before the ballots were cast, evicted from office without power by those with power but no office.
Will the Right ever learn the difference between the two? Decades of high office being held by a supposedly ‘Conservative’ party has left our position both culturally and economically ever weaker. However, the recent European elections were the second time in an otherwise long, long fallow period that the Right of politics have engineered great sea changes from a position of insurgency. In 2016, UKIP changed European history despite having only one semi-detached MP – or thought it had done – but none of us really learnt the lesson back then. We dropped our guard, and tragedy ensued.
The radical Left, of course, have very much understood the difference between office and power, and for a very long time. For instance, during the Spanish Civil War the minority communists were careful not to occupy many front-rank ministerial positions in the Republican government, but made sure they controlled the junior ranks through which executive decisions were ultimately channelled. Thus the more moderate socialists and general population perceived themselves to be in control, whereas in reality real power lay in communist hands.
In our own time this strategy has found expression in the long Gramscian march through the institutions, as a result of which the Left culturally dominate our society so completely, and who is formally elected matters very little. Note how they reacted like scorpions when conservatives such as Toby Young or Professor Roger Scruton were appointed to relatively minor public bodies, ruthlessly savaging the reputations of both men. Note also how the Tory administration were only too happy to throw Scruton to the wolves, casting him out without any proper investigation.
It follows that in the larger scheme of things, whether the Brexit Party really do hold Tory feet to the fire over Brexit is immaterial if the Right collectively do not learn Brexit’s central lesson: to achieve a long-term conservative revolution, constant external pressure must be applied on the Tory Party – assuming it is still around – in order to get that low-agency, cynical organisation to do anything much conservative at all. We had better do some very hard thinking about how to do so, and it would be certainly foolish to put our blind trust in the Brexit Party: we simply do not know what it will ultimately morph into, if anything. Indeed, as Laura said in TCW on Tuesday, it may yet prove to be not very conservative.
We are the insurgents now, and, much to our surprise, we are proving really rather good at it. To shut up shop again, even if Brexit is completely delivered, would be utterly unconscionable.