The crisis among conservatives

“In Britain and the US a deep crisis of conservatism has been building since the end of the Reagan and Thatcher governments. It is a crisis of competence, of intellectual energy and coherence, of electoral effectiveness, and – perhaps most serious of all – of social relevance.”.  (The Guardian, 28 May 2019).

If this is true conservatives haven’t noticed it.  They still cling to the idea that, if you keep cutting government services and help to the sick and poor, and you pass on the savings to the rich and to big companies in the form of tax cuts, “all boats will be raised”.  This tripe has been disproved repeatedly.  What this policy (their only policy?) does is to allow companies to  buy back their shares, a particularly useless waste of money, enhancing  the wealth of a small minority, ensuring the financial support of the very rich, and delighting the authorities in Panama and other money sinks.  The old idea of government was to pay attention to all citizens, rich and poor. Remember that?

Those who espouse Epicurean principles are not supposed to dwell on politics. That was all well and good when government was small and barely impinged on daily life. Now what governments do has a real, daily effect on the citizenry.   The likelihood that Boris Johnson will be the next British Prime Minister must seem incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Regrettably., it could mean a general election and the distant prospect on an equally incompetent and out-of-touch Labour Party assuming office.  Either way, bye-bye Britain as a functioning, respected country the rest of the world can do business with. In the scale of history, all this will pass; but whether it passes in our lifetimes is a matter for conjecture.





  1. The crisis amongst conservatives in the UK is the increasing willingness to sacrifice conservative ideals to achieve ‘proper’ Brexit. Polls have repeatedly shown conservative Eurosceptics would end the Union, inflict significant economic damage, and even destroy the Conservative Party, to ensure Brexit happens.

    It’s this kind of fanaticism that is so dangerous. Any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would conclude that Brexit isn’t worth it if any of the scenarios mentioned above were to occur. Yet the traditional conservative virtues of pragmatism, cautiousness and risk-aversion have been thrown out of the window.

    Most importantly, none of this was inevitable. Had the conservative movement embraced a compromise Brexit that reflected the narrowness of the referendum result, the current impasse the country finds itself in would never have happened. We would have left the EU, but kept close enough economic ties to reassure worried Remainers. But since conservative Brexiteers have turned Euroscepticism into an ideological purity movement, waging a culture war on Remainers and the so-called liberal elite for lacking faith, they have sown the seeds of their own defeat.

    • Excellent comment! I wish you were an MP and could get it across to your fellow Tories (I refuse to call them “Conservatives” – they are conserving nothing, dismantling much).

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