Monday, June 20, 2005

No Conservative Party in the UK - lessons for Canada

This article by Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher) in the UK Spectator should be a warning to the CPC and those 'moderates' within the conservative movement advocate abandonment of 'social issues' in order to attract more 'moderate' voters. Hitchens looks at what the happened to the Tories in the UK,
And here is the core of it. The Tory party does not know what it is supposed to be opposing. In fact, in general, it has either supported or failed to oppose all the most important actions of New Labour. These are constitutional, moral and cultural, and they are the real issue.
That, in a nutshell is the problem with the CPC at this moment. It does not know whether it really opposes SMS, abortion on demand, Kyoto, capital punishment, and other issues of great importance. Hitchens then turns his sights on those who think that the UK Tories can sustain themselves on a total fiscal and economic platform,
...Regrettably, this is not so. Margaret Thatcher certainly did not win the culture wars. She did not even fight them. On the great battlefields of marriage and the family, education and culture, morality and law, the Tories have been utterly outmanoeuvred and bypassed. Because they did not fight, they co-operated in the destruction of their own electorate. To this day, they have no idea why it is that they are so despised by the young, and their wretched attempts to toady to fashion, in such areas as civil partnerships for homosexuals. manage to offend or puzzle their supporters while utterly failing to convince their opponents that they are genuine.
Once again, going back to the CPC; they can't be on both sides of an issue or muddle what they really believe in. They are afraid of standing against the 'inevitability' of SSM, government run day care (a.k.a the "Trudeau Youth") for offending the urban elite. But there are is strong constituency within the Liberals in Canada and in the UK, Labour for a socially conservative party,
Look at the almost total disappearance from Parliament of Labour's old patriotic, monarchist, socially conservative right-wing, leaving many working-class people utterly unrepresented. New Labour's multicultural metropolitan social liberalism is repulsive to many traditional Labour voters, many of whom stayed at home in May mainly for that reason. It is surely possible to find a majority out there for a new party, neither bigoted nor politically correct, patriotic and intelligent, committed to national independence and liberty and to the re-establishment of justice. I believe those conservatives willing to think, and to seek allies, could swiftly develop a programme and a coalition far more honourable and realistic than the present Tory impasse.
This is the fate that the Tories in the UK are facing. They are unwilling to take a real stand against Europe, against the cancer of crime sweeping the isles, against the leviathan state. They want to be more efficient administrators of an bloated state. This is the same fate that the CPC faces unless Harper and company and understand who they are and what they stand for. Mike Harris understood Hitchens' point. Pat Buchanan understood this point when he spoke of a 'cultural war' being waged at the GOP convention in 1992. The current GOP leadership understands the importance of cultural issues to the electorate, and has benefited as a result.

Hitchens is despondent on the chances of the Tories 'getting it', noting:
We cannot go on avoiding this decision for ever. There will not be many more chances to wrest Britain from the ‘progressive consensus’. Tories are dying and not being replaced. The party is becoming what marketing men call a ‘ghost brand’, like Capstan Full Strength cigarettes, still worth selling to a dwindling market but with no hope of regaining its lost position. The Liberal Democrats continue to grow and will eventually be able to force proportional representation on Labour (the most likely result of the next election). This would end all hope of real conservative change. I understand that these arguments are unwelcome to many Conservative loyalists, and I know why, but would it not at least be worth debating them while there is still time?
It seems that too many people in the Conservative parties of both Whitehall and Parliament Hill subscribe to the inevitability of this 'progressive consensus', much like the inevitibility of that Marxism once believed of itself. There is an important role to be played by political parties to act as brakes or barriers to this 'consensus'; respect for tradition is one of the foundations of modern Conservatism, of which there is broad support across traditional party lines. If only the party elites could refrain from their urbane solipism, could the CPC and the UK Tories re-discover their history before it is too late.

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