Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Tory leadership; time for a new Gang of Four?

Well, the Tory leadership contest is once again making the news, and we might get an idea about who is in charge at some point before Christmas. Musings from Middle England has aan amusing round up here. The scary thing for me is that I grew up under Thatcher, and I had no doubt whatsoever by the time I was old enough to vote that the Tories were the enemy and must be defeated. It wasn't, really, the economic policies that bothered me about them, it was the illiberal lock them up, hand 'em and flog 'em approach they took to all crime, criminals, people with long hair, young people who like to party, etc.

I knew we had to get them out of office, as did every other liberal, socialist and fed up middle grounder in the country. We all voted (in many cases tactically), for the candidate best placed to defeat the local Tory, and get them out of office we did. I was up for Portillo, and I did cheer when Twigg stood there with that little grin. Only now, when I see it repeated, I just see the grin of a smug New Labour git. They're not just the new Tories. They're worse.

I'm a soft LibDem supporter by inclination, they're the only viable party that pretty much across the board supports the ideals of individual freedoms that I most value. So why is it when I read the platforms of half the Tory leadership candidates I agree with them? Why is it I find it very hard to disagree with any of the recent entries on Boris's blog? Dead Men Left is running a series of articles on the 'danger' of a LibDem vote, but, to be 100% honest, this lefty would rather a Tory in office than Charles Clarke. As long as that Tory isn't Howard, Davis or Fox.

Then someone like Howard or Davis stands up, or Fox is quoted somewhere, or I look at the Cornerstones website. And I'm torn, they're everything I grew up despising in politics. Fox, it appears, has no chance. That's probably a good thing. Davis is supposedly the front runner, with Cameron having the support of Boris and Duncan. Duncan would've been my preferred choice overall, he is, essentially, an Orange Book LibDem who joined the wrong party. And so we come to the point.

Do we want a strong, rejuvenated Tory party led by someone like Clarke, that is able to challenge Labour and get the Nanny Staters out of office? Even if it means having authoritarian Island Staters in the Cabinet again, possibly in charge of the Home Office, and running the "anti-terror" state take over in pretty much the same way?

Or do we want someone like Davis or Fox to win, the 21st Century equivalents of Michael Foot for the "modern Conservatives"? Because, let us face it, they're not going to win. They're never going to win. But they're popular with the membership rump that's still there.

Let them win. Let the Tory party write its own Suicide Note. But let the sensible half of the party split off to form a new party, a party able to form an alliance with the economically slightly left but otherwise freedom loving LibDems. The present day Conservative and Unionist party was formed by a merger with many who left the old Liberal party when it fragmented in the first half of the 20th Century. That broad church alliance has had its day. Let the liberal wing of the Tories once again split off. They lack a name? In the run up to the celebrations of the Act of Union 1707, given that the Scottish wing is already semi-detached and stressing its Unionist credentials, why not call themselves the Unionist party?

1 comment:

Gary Monro said...

There are a number of points I would like to make regarding this post so I'll keep them brief:

Was Thatcher a conservative? I don't know. She was an economic libertarian for sure. But economic libertarianism is what the Conservative Party is known for - it isn't necessarily what conservatives actually are.

New Labour are nothing like conservatives. Their centrist worldview - 'the state will organise it because, let's face it, you're too stupid to' - has no place in conservative thinking. We prefer the common man to do it; he knows better what will work and can respond more quickly to changing circumstances. Government is slow and inefficient - often to the point of being inept.

You say you read the Cornerstone literature and equate it with what you despised growing up. But Cornerstone's philosophy is one of trust of the individual, respect for his institutions and an intelligent recognition that government's place is in those few areas where only government can add value. This is a human and humane view of people and affords the likes of me and you a lot more respect than New (or Old) Labour whose trust in me to create a better world for myself without them sticking their oar in to 'help' me is absolutely zero.

Ken Clarke will not remove the nanny staters. I see no evidence (although will happily be corrected) that he has any belief in the idea that government is essentially a meddling force in our lives and that we'd be quite a bit better off if we suffered quite a bit less of it.

You dismiss Davis and Fox but they are much, much closer to Cornerstone conservatism than Clarke. Both will believe that the quality of a person's life is improved with the quality of their family and social networks. Unlike the meddlers who govern us who believe happiness is achieved only through material gain - a gain which, of course, only the government can provide.

Your comment regarding a Conservative Party split is one I have sympathy with - if only for the opposite reasons. If we fail to elect a leader who actually is conservative then as a 'conservative' party we're lost.

Those of us who believe in tradition, the people, our institutions and our sovereignty may just have to find somewhere else to live.