Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When did we lose our way?

In recent months it has struck me how far the Conservative Party has moved from its natural place in the political spectrum. We have become preoccupied with simply rebutting Labour Party policies and actions. Of course there is nothing wrong with this in and of itself; indeed it is the natural function of the opposition. However before we posit an alternative course of action to one proposed by Labour, we should ask ourselves whether what we are proposing is philosophically conservative.

In a political world increasingly preoccupied with polls and focus groups it is of course incredibly tempting to sacrifice our values at the alter of perceived public opinion. But our job as conservatives is not simply to react to polls; it is to persuade the public that conservative principles are best for the country. Rather than telling us what to do, polls should help us determine where our efforts of persuasion should be focused, and how effective those efforts have been.

If my line of reasoning appears unrealistic given the prevailing political climate, then I would ask you to consider the alternative. If polls and focus groups become our masters, then the political game will cease to be about competing philosophies vying for popular support, and the function of political parties will be reduced to that of analysis. The question will cease to be about who is right in the sense of being correct (I should add the caveat however that being right in this sense is not, independently, enough to win) and will become a question of which party commissions the best polls and interprets the results most effectively.

The application of reductio ad absurdum to this argument suggests the Conservative Party would become an organisation of number crunchers and statisticians. Gone would be the bold thinking which under Thatcher delivered us from the all consuming grasp of socialism. In its place we would have reactionary politics, or more accurately reactionary policy making, bereft of philosophical identity. Conservatism, socialism etc would cease to have any independent meaning. We would find ourselves trapped in a philosophical vacuum; a quagmire of our own making, and from which we would find it increasingly difficult to escape.

22 comments:

Cllr Green (Rep-Kent) said...

Here Here!!!!!!!!!

TimberWolf said...

Can't Cllr Green spell?

What is he, a Conservative?

Cllr Green (rep-Kent) said...

No, I'm a Republican, and in the United States it's "Here Here" as well as "Hear Hear". Its a regional thing. I'm a cllr for the city of Allendale in the county of Kent.

Tory in the Wilderness said...

Cllr Green: Glad to see my readership extends across the pond. Thanks for the comments.

TimberWolf said...

Is being a Republican as bad as, or worse than, being a Conservative?

Cllr Green (Rep-Kent) said...

Well, we certainly know where you stand, Timberwolf. Republicans are generalized as the "Right" party of the United States, versus the Democrats who are "left." It was, however, once said that the Republicans are the equivilent of the Conservative Party, and the Democrats are the equivilent of the....Conservative Party.
We are rather like the Cornerstone Group. As I consider being a Republican to be a good, rather than bad thing, I cannot answer your question.

TimberWolf said...

You could only know that I am not a Conservative, Cllr Green. I hope that would be obvious to anyone. In fact I am a Liberal, a member of the Liberal Democrats, and by co-incidence served with a Liberal Cllr Green on the local council years ago.I understand that in USA there are Liberals in both the Democrats and Republicans, and in some areas stand as Liberals. Here in the UK Liberals either support the Liberal Democrats or the Liberal Party (Liberals who did not support the merger with the Social Democrats). There is of course also a certain Dave Cameron, who calls himself a Liberal Conservative, and has been elected Leader of the Conservative Party. Other recent Conservative Leaders have been like rockets, shooting up, fizzling out and disappearing. Dave will probably be the same.

Cllr Green (Rep-Kent) said...

Thats exactly what I meant, I knew you were not a Conservative. And yes, liberals run in both party, but I was speaking in generalities. And I know all about the Liberal Democrats, and trust me, I'm less than impressed. What a pathetic party, do you actually stand for anything other than winning seats?
And Cameron has built a sustained lead, so I doubt he's a flash in the pan.

TimberWolf said...

Unlike the Conservatives, who have ditched all their policies and will not have any for a year or so, the Liberal Democrats do have some very good policies, and that is why they are so good at winning elections. If you would like to know more about them go to www.libdems.org.uk. You might even find you have some opinions in common. You might think Cameron is doing a good job, but not if you are a right wing Conservative fearful for the future direction of the Party.

Cllr Green (Rep-Kent) said...

The Liberal Democrats advocate higher taxes. That is sufficient to deny them my support.

TimberWolf said...

You are out of date. Higher taxation has been dropped. Look at the Lib.Dem. website. They advocate lower income tax and reductions in other taxes to compensate for increased taxes to combat global warming.
Aa a local councillor would you care to comment on the 36% increase in Council Tax by my local Conservatives since they gained control in 2002? Where does your objection to higher taxation put you there? A Liberal Democrat voter?

Victor said...

Cllr Green - The Conservatives don't have any policies. Would you vote for them?

Cllr Green (Rep-Green) said...

Timberwolf, you accused the Tories of changing policies, and then went on to boast that your party had done exactly the same thing. As regards to your council, I don't know the specifics, so I am unable to comment.
And I'm confused. First, the conservatives are accused of changing policies. Then they're accused of having no policies. Would someone figure out a unified opposition line to the Conservatives so I can respond? And I'm not even a Tory, I'm a republican. (for example, as I'm an American, I'm NOT A MONARCHIST)
But instintively, I'd be a Tory. Although the conservatives are currently led by a man best comparable to Ted Heath (although Cameron is perhaps more personable), I yet remain a conservative.

TimberWolf said...

I have not said the Conservatives have changed their policies. They have simply abandoned them.

So you don't know about my local council. That's understandable. But in view of your objection to paying higher taxes would you vote for a party that increased Council Tax by 36% in 4 years?

Ted Heath started out on the Right, with his Selsdon Group. He changed later. Time will tell what changes there will be in Cameron. He might become the next Labour Party Leader.

Cllr Green (Rep-Green) said...

I'm going to quote you know. First you say "the Conservatives, who have ditched all their policies" then you say of your party that "Higher taxation has been dropped"
and re your council, are we talking net taxes or taxes per capita? also, what years are you figuring from? And are you calculating for inflation?
That's why its so hard to comment on situations of which i know nothing.

Cllr Green (my edit) said...

This is how it should have been posted. Alas, its late and I didn't proofread.

I'm going to quote you now. First you say "the Conservatives, who have ditched all their policies" then you say of your party that "Higher taxation has been dropped"
and re: your council, are we talking net taxes or taxes per capita? Also, what years are you figuring from? And are you adjusting for inflation?
That's why its so hard to comment on situations of which i know nothing.

TimberWolfc said...

The Liberal Democrats dropped their proposal to
increase income tax by 1p to help pay for better education in the light of the Labour Government's higher taxation and higher spending. Other policies are unchanged.
The Conservative Council (London Borough of Barnet) has increased Council Tax by 36% since 2002. That is taking what we have to pay now compared to what we had to pay before they came to power in May 2002. The tax is paid on each property. Would you tolerate taxes going up by that much in Allendale, especially with your objection to higher taxes?
Incidentally my family were Conservative, but I objected to actions of the authoritarian Labour and Conservative Governments over the years since WW2, where they wasted money and mortgaged our future. Think of the Groundnut Scheme, Suez, Blue Streak, Iraq and general delusions of grandeur in the post-war years.

Victor said...

Cllr Green - Presumably the Republicans have policies, so why do you support a UK party that does not have any? Cameron may be doing well in the polls with his saturation coverage in the Press and on TV due to his media expertise, but 'The Emperor has no clothes', and a small boy is going to pipe up before long.

Gunther said...

Hear Hear| Cameron will have to go before long.

The Conservative Party is a Royalist Party Cllr Green. We don't want support from you Republicans.

Cllr Green said...

I'm an American Republican. I have sympathy for ya'll. If I was British I would be a monarchist. I'm not, so I'm not.

Gunther said...

If I was American I would still be a monarchist. In this country I would not want say a President Livingstone, and I am not happy with most of the Presidents elected in USA.

Henry said...

You've certainly lost your way now haven't you?