Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cameron is a true-blue Tory, for all his chameleon traits

This is a depressing Telegraph leader. Libertarian Thatcherite Tories are - it seems - mere interlopers in the Conservative Party, somewhat akin to the old Militant Tendency in Labour. The true Conservative Party is in the condescending, paternalistic and patrician mould of the Carlton Club grandees. Dave Cameron, for all his forced mateyness, is the natural leader of the true Party. If those of us who believe in small government and setting people free to shape their own lives don't like it, then we can just tug our forelocks and shove off sharpish before he takes a horse whip to us.

This "narrative" would certainly account for my continued frustration with the failure of the Conservative Party to oppose the construction of the apparatus of a police state. If one is a paternalist patrician, one can just as easily use such apparatus (for the good of the people, of course, old chap) as can a paternalistic Socialist. One of the irritating facts of life in Continental Europe is that there is a broad consensus on the need for a powerful state. The only dispute is as to how its powers should be used. Both right and left in Europe interfere in markets. The Left interferes to "protect the workers" and the Right interferes to "promote national champions". Either way the taxpayers cough up zillions to be squandered by chaps with more confidence than ability.

If the Telegraph is right, perhaps British politics are finally converging with those of our EU partners?

Cameron is a true-blue Tory, for all his chameleon traits


Deogolwulf said...

It's like a pincer-movement.

dizzy said...

I think you are actually miss understanding what she is saying. Toryism is not about paternalism necessarily. The point though is that yes, Thatcher was the right medicine for a particular time but she was not Conservative in the Disraeli sense. She would have no doubt been a supporter of Joseph Chamberlain not Disraeli, and historically, they ascend through the party, culiminating in the late 70s.

That does not mean paternialism though, what it means is a non-radicalist approach to policy. Thatcher was - after all - a radical, she conserved very little. The key is to aproach policy from traditional conservtaive principles which is not "small government, setting people free" rhetoric, its about applying skepticism to policy results and avodiing gran theories of society as your eventual ends. Thatcherism, like socialism is founded upon abstracted grand theory. That is not conservatism. Conservatives should not be ideological and should not follow abstracted ideas with messianic zeal.

I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, well I've just shoved off. I've just written to the Conservative Party (which I have supported at every election since I was allowed to vote in 1972) informing them that they have already had the last vote they're ever likely to receive from me.

From now on I will be among the increasing number of people who simply don't vote.

Tom Paine said...

I know how you feel but I am not sure shoving off is the answer. I have accidentally left the Party again. I left on purpose when Thatcher was betrayed, rejoined in 1997 because I figured that good men needed to come to the party's aid in its darkest hour. Now I am out again but only because Conservatives Abroad are too inefficient to draw on a direct debit!

The current leadership is not merely uninspiring but dispiriting, so it's hard to get together the energy to rejoin. However, I suspect the best thing we malcontents can do is rejoin and lobby tirelessly inside the Party for libertarian policies.

The old Party system has had its day, but for now it's all we have. Declining membership is an opportunity for the pure of heart to have disproportionate influence, if they are prepared to see the current situation as an opportunity.

I for one am sick of sniping from the sidelines. It's sickening to work alongside hopelessly wrong-headed people like Cameron (who is still intent on becoming Blair II just as the electorate have worked out finally that Blair I is and always has been a crock). But if we leave him the stage to himself, we are not - and this means you, anonymous - in a position to complain.

PS: Dizzy, I know what you mean about "grand theories" and not being ideological in the sense of imagining that any political theory can solve all problems. There is no panacea and there must be compromise. We libertarians know that people fear the loss of the "protections" that have enslaved them. Those fearful people have votes too and must of course be taken into account. We can't sweep away the Big State today, but we could - for example - set an objective to make it 5% smaller (in terms of staff and inflation-adjusted budgets) every year for ten years. Is such a policy was coupled with a commitment that NO frontline, client-facing, jobs would be lost (i.e. only administrators), I think it would be popular. Certainly more popular than hiring more and more administrators and then firing doctors and nurses!