Category Archives: Conservatives

We are in a bit of a muddle again

Thanks to a number of other commitments plus (I may as well admit this) health issues which are not going to go away even if they are held at bay, I took the basic decision to stop blogging very often. I think this is probably a mistake as the advantage of the blog is that I can have a good rant and no one can stop me. Today I want to rant about tribal politics (again).

The coalition is falling apart. That is not to say that it will not continue to run the country until the next election but that the two parties have become so concerned about their “identity” that they are putting that ahead of everything else – and firmly ahead of the national interest.

Why does Nick Clegg need “yellow water” between him and David Cameron? Yes, they have their different opinions – I have different opinions from my wife but we have been working together as a team for over thirty years.

This determination on the part of the LibDems to rubbish policies enacted by the Coalition and WITH WHICH THEY AGREED PREVIOUSLY is, to say the least, distasteful.

Equally so is the right end rump of the old Tory Party which should come as no surprise to anyone. The big surprise in UK politicis is that there is still a Conservative Party. What happened to the Whigs? What happened to the old Liberals? What is happening today to the Labour Party (and could be happening to the Lib-Dems)? They all got stuck in a social and cultural moment in history while both society and culture have moved on. The Tories, however, have always moved with the times – well, nearly always. At the same time they have had to contend with “the old guard” every inch of the way. Usually, in the end, thy dealt with this in a pretty brutal fashion. Think Harold Macmillan and the night of the long knives:

Now that doesn’t work. Communications are to good and too fast. An idiot management committee in a constituency somewhere in the country can create havoc. This debacle about Crispin Blunt is a case in point. My guess is that it will do little harm to the Conservative election prospects in Reigate and Banstead but the message it has sent out (despite the management committee being rightly trounced by the other members) will do great damage in the marginal seats.

Elections are lost and won by the votes of extremely small numbers of people. Some of you may remember that I worked out that after the last election had less than 18,000 voters out of an electorate of 46,000,000 voted for a different candidate (and it did not matter which different candidate) we would not have had a coalition between the Tories and the LD’s. It really does seem that there are some Tories who will do whatever it takes to make the Conservatives unelectable. Hmmm.

Are the members of the Traditional Britain Group fascists?

Funny thing – life. I had no intention of writing a blog today but find my blood boiling. It seems that Jacob Rees-Mogg MP was unwise enough (some might be tempted to say “stupid enough”) to be the guest speaker at the annual dinner of a vile group that calls itself the Traditional Britain Group. Before I go any further, let me say that I do not believe for one half second that Mr Rees-Mogg holds any of the beliefs that this group holds nor that he fully understood what they were about when he accepted the invitation.

Anyway, it also just so happens that the book I am reading at the moment is called Winter of the World by Ken Follett. This deals with the period running up to the second world war including, of course, the destruction of the German Social Democratic Party by the Nazis in the 1930’s. Deals with it brilliantly, horribly, graphically and accurately. If you have time, do try to read it. It is part two of a trilogy. The first, Fall of Giants takes us through the Great War and should, I feel, be compulsory reading for every prospective parliamentary candidate – that way we might, just might, avoid some of the mistakes we made in the past.

Back to the Traditional Britain Group. Look at their “About Us” page on their website.  This is headed – innocently enough – Traditional Conservatives Radical Thinking. Hmmm.

Here are their aims (they call them “standpoints”). My thoughts in italics. You may care to add yours in the comment box below.

(1) We believe in Britain and the British people, their heritage and customs. Of course you do – these exist. By the same token I believe in buttercups amd butter. Neither assertion means a thing.

(2) We believe in a sovereign self-governing Britain and withdrawal from the EU. A viewpoint shared by many from all shades of the political spectrum. Full marks for this one.

(3) We reject all forms of foreign interference in our government. This is an irrational belief. We cannot avoid foreign interference if we accept foreign investment or deal (whether as buyers or sellers) in an international market. For this to mean anything they should carefully define “foreign interference”.

(4) We ask for an understanding and consciousness by all our people of their nation’s greatness, achievements, and glory. Good – but also their relative size in global terms (quite small), their failures and the fact that many shameful acts have been carried out in the name of Great Britain. That is not to be unpatriotic – it is true of every nation that has ever been and will remain true of every nation to come.

(5) We believe that the heterosexual family is the primary social unit. Subtext: we hate gays. Well, sorry, but I don’t. Some very good friends are gays and, while we on the subject, many societies have been very succesful with other types of primary social units.

(6) We believe in authority. See comment under (1) – but I have a nasty feeling that this means “our authority” rather than “your authority”..

(7) We believe in the spiritual values of life and of the respect that is owing to man. Not sure what they mean by “spiritual values” but if a someone wants to be respected he or, of course, she must earn it.

(8) We believe in the obligation of labour and the rolling back of the welfare state. If what they are saying is that all have an obligation to their fellow men and that welfare should be limited to those who really need it, I would agree. Karl Marx put it rather better. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.  Of course, it may mean something else entirely.

(9) We believe in virtue and the sacred nature of Christianity and our Established Church. Sorry, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, Buddhists – and so on and so forth. You are not part of this group’s belief system. Return to your roots (unless, of course, they happen to be in the UK).

(10)We believe that our country is best served by our indigenous customs & traditions, its time-honoured hereditary principle and our monarchy. Yes, Morris dancing, bear-baiting, witch burning and rotten boroughs. Actually, I do think our constitutional monarchy is fine but when I read this sort of thing from this sort of group even I tend to start wanting to embrace a president.

(11) We are in favour of localism and local communities. So am I.

(12) We support the small businessman and entrepeneur. Good, so they should.

(13) We support British industry & manufacturing. Excellent – we can take it, therefore, that everything they buy, eat, wear and drive around in come from the UK.  Should someone tell them that we have to import nearly all our oil, gas and electricity?

(14) We are opposed to internationalism and globalisation. At the risk of repeating myself: Should someone tell them that we have to import nearly all our oil, gas and electricity?

(15) We are opposed to communism, to socialism, to liberalism and to anarchism. This is rather fun. Anarchists oppose socialism. Communists oppose liberalism. This group opposes them all (but see 17 below).

(16) We are opposed to mass immigration and multiculturalism. Why are these connected? It can only be because they oppose the immigration of people who look or think differently. This overlooks the fact that all, even those in this group and the followers of Ed Milliband, share something like 99.8% of our genes.

(17) We are opposed to the Class War. Unless, of course, you are a communist, a socialist, a liberal or an anarchist in which case you are a part of the opposition which, to my ears, sounds a bit like a war.

(18) We are opposed to Political Correctness and support the repeal of all cultural-Marxist legislation, including race relations legislation. I go with abolishing political correctness, have no idea which acts on the statute book could be described as “cultural-Marxist” and I am dead against any racism whatsoever.

(19) We are against the purely materialist conception of life. Really? But everything so far suggests that the reverse is the case.

(20) We support the Great British Countryside and its conservation for future generations. I have lived in the “great British countryside” most of my life. In my experience people on the ground generally want to make as much money as they can out of the bit they own – and God help anyone else who spoils the view.

(21) We are against all the great heresies of our age, because we have yet to be convinced that there is any part of the world where the liberty to propagate such heresies has been the cause of anything good. Again we need a definition. What do they mean by heresy? Until I know I really cannot comment.


To the centre you Conservatives

When pushed into a corner I usually describe my political position as being “just to the right of centre” even though when you analyse it that really doesn’t say very much. The result is that my natural home has been with the Conservative Party – and that I have fought tooth and nail (usually with no success whatever) to move the party nearer to the centre. Quite simply I believe in free enterprise, small government and a system which expects people to be responsible for themselves and their relatives but which properly cares for those cannot manage without help whatever the cause – including old age – and does so in a way that never makes the person requiring help feel degraded.


How that happened does not matter now: suffice to say that I joined the Young Conservatives when in my late teens – and when Winston Churchill was our Prime Minister. 

Thus began a membership which has been punctuated at quite frequent intervals by my withdrawing my support simply because I find the ethos of the right wing of the Tory party utterly repellent and certain individuals in that part of the party obnoxious to say the least. However, apart from a very short period when I was a member of the Social Democrat Party, I have either been a member of the Conservative Party or of no party at all. 

My excursion into the SDP was simply because I thought that the founding four were starting a new middle-of-the-road party that would combine the ability to create wealth (which the Conservatives usually achieve) with the ability to share reasonably fairly (which Labour usually tries to do, with greater or lesser success). They didn’t, of course. Was it the realisation that they needed a bigger power base that determined them to join the Liberals? Obviously I have no idea but I do wonder whether it did either party much good. The old Liberal party was always divided in two: the old guard on the one side and the young tigers led by Peter Hain on the other. When he realised that he would never move the party the way he hoped, he joined Labour. Today it is just as divided being left of centre where the main opposition is from the Tories and right of centre when up against Labour. 

Today I see stirrings in the Conservative Party that move me to consider becoming a member once again. I am greatly encouraged by the number of Tory MP’s who voted on the amendment to the Queen’s Speech regarding the EU (including, I am pleased to say, Dr Sarah Wollaston, who represents this constituency). And then there is UKIP. 

Put the two together and you have a perfect home for the extreme right wing of the party – the people that so many describe as “proper” Tories – and a home within what is left of the Conservatives for those who are more inclined to the centre ground. The hundred and sixteen (what a nice name for a new political group – bit like the 1922 tag – make a formidable group who, if they remain organised and united, could make a huge impact. This is not the place to detail what that impact could be but one small part of it would be to show the people of the UK that they actually do understand that the divisions created by our relationship with the EU do need to be settled and done so in the only democratic option available – a referendum. 

I say the only option available because, in this case, it is just that. Usually one party puts an issue of this sort into their manifesto. They can then claim a mandate for doing whatever it may be. That can’t work in this case: no party is sufficiently united on the issue of the EU to follow that route nor are they likely to be. Hence the need for a referendum. 

A revival of centre ground politics: could this happen or is it just wishful thinking on my part?