Sunday, 12 May 2013


Maybe this is a statement of the obvious, but what all the UKIP brouhaha of the last couple of weeks has convinced me of is that for the most part I think it's doubtful that the majority of Tory voters really vote for something they believe in called The Conservative Party, but rather they just vote for the right/for a conservative party.

If you dismantled the entire Conservative Party apparatus, shut the whole thing down, erased all records of their past, mindwiped everybody who had ever heard of them, etcetera etcetera, then what I imagine would happen is that a new mainstream right-wing party would come instantly spring up, quite probably called The Conservative Party. And while I hate to write in these terms, I think that's both a problem and strength they have - the Tory 'brand' doesn't really have very much strength in and of itself: there will always be right-wing (or righter wing) people out there who would like their views represented, and as the oldest rightwing party with decades of power under its belt it tends to default to the Tory party to manifest itself as their representative.

But much as there was a lot of silly chest-beating recently about Thatcher and her blah blah blah legacy, then in terms of reshaping Britain in his own image, Tony Blair's legacy seems infinitely more potent than hers (I think the fact the left tend to be a bit embarrassed by this is why they don't crow on about it), and I think it has been instrumental in creating a breed of right-wing politician that doesn't now necessarily reflect what the big amorphous right-wing blob of voters that wants to vote for somebody right-wing, usually the Conservatives. 

What I am tortuously getting at is this: the influence of Blair and New Labour in general has created a world in which Tory politicians like David Cameron now hold fundamentally liberal positions on things like gay marriage, religious tolerance etc. Which is well and good, but to just stick with gay marriage, has there really been a revolution across the board in terms of how everyone in the country thinks, that means it's a given that  ordinary people on the right side of the spectrum are more likely to be in favour of gay marriage now than they were 20 year ago? There obviously HAVE been certain changes. But given that really there was no more or less reason to approve of gay marriage 20 years ago than there is now, then I think it's a big leap for a politician like Cameron to assume that the amorphous right-wing blob that votes for him will now also be in favour of all the liberal flourishes that his party gathered over the Blair years.

Much as UKIP has a certain position on Europe, it's fairly obvious a lot of its success is to do with the manner in which it embodies 'traditional' conservative values (many of which others might define as prejudices) that seem to have been largely purged from the front benches by Blair. I'm not even sure it's accurate to say that voting for them is a protest vote - it strikes me that voting for UKIP is really just voting for a certain ideal of the Conservative Party. Even if UKIP were to become a genuinely mainstream party, then its wackier views would become moderated as it adapted itself towards what the amorphous right-wing blob wanted (I'm pretty sure normal people are never going to be in favour of a flat tax). Even if UKIP crushed the Tories, the very act of doing it probably make it the Tories, to a large extent.

Even though I'm probably the only one who is going to read this, I am starting to bore even myself here, so I will wrap up, but I suppose my point is that yeah, Cameron appears to be in hot water. But really, I don't believe the Conservative Party - or an equivalent - can ever die while people hold more conservative values than other people. What's perhaps more interesting - and hence I'm not even going to talk about it really -  is what would spring up if you dismantled and erased the history of the Labour Party?

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