For those concerned with the direction of the British politics and the Conservative Party, it may have struck you that 2018 seems like quite an important year. Less than a year after the disaster that was the general election of 2017, the Tories seem to be stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
It seems apparent to me that there are cogs of the conservative wheel that are out of place. The most prevalent would be the identity crisis facing the party. If the Manchester party conference was anything to go by, the party seem to be utterly devoid of any enthusiasm and originality. In the former days of David Cameron’s governance, party conferences were effervescent. There was a commanding energy to the conferences, one that demonstrated that the Tories were a party with the wind behind their sails. Compare this to the most recent conference in which it resembled that of a long weekend retreat for the residents of a retirement home, with the feeling that attendees couldn’t wait to go back home almost immediately after its commencement. Putting it shortly, it was painful from the word go.
If the party are to present a respectable force to oppose a resurgent Jeremy Corbyn, the party need to adopt some enthusiasm and forward thinking policies that can instil some much needed hope into the heart of activists and supporters alike. The one overriding issue that marauds over the party however is an apparent lack of clarity in what the party actually stands for. Evidently the Cameroonian liberalism that now seems to be an eternity ago was a clear vote winner. Whether this brand of politics could rival that of the bourgeois brand of Corbynism is yet to be seen. After all, Cameron did undoubtedly divide opinion, and wasn’t always sold in the best light to working class demographics. Another option is to seek a lurch to the right, basing itself more in traditional conservatism. The growth of popularity enjoyed by Jacob Rees-Mogg in recent times would insinuate that there may be an enthusiastic grassroots desire for a shift to the right. The success of mobilising the right wing grassroots in America by Donald Trump would certainly seek to provide an optimism that this kind of shift may not be out of the realms of possibility.
However, the post-election fallout would suggest neither scenarios are likely. What we seem to be witnessing is more akin to stagnation. Like a rabbit in the headlights, the party seem to be dumbfounded in its efforts to gain any such momentum. Let’s face it, when the opposition offer free university tuition as an election pledge, reducing interest rates on student loans isn’t exactly going to cut the mustard. Whilst it’s obvious which of the two prospective policies are rooted in realism, it’s just as plain to see which policy would get voters enthused. The Conservatives are in desperate need of a rebrand, and the promotion of youthful MP’s such as James Cleverly and Ben Bradley to CCHQ is a step in the right direction. Whilst the reshuffle of the cabinet may have appeared to be a bit of a wasted exercise, it seems the party seems to be renovating its image which can only be a step in the right direction. One can only hope that this will trigger a new, revitalised approach to policy implementation.
If these issues are to be addressed, it would be valid to assert that the Conservatives have to capitalise upon forming the alliances required to silence the hard left represented by Corbyn and his left wing cabal in 2018. As Mr. Corbyn seeks to “stake out the new centre ground” – a claim that is laughable to actual liberals – the Conservative party must actively embrace all those who reject Corbynism. This attempt by the hard left to masquerade themselves as liberals needs to be countered. The desire for an equity of opportunity over the battle for the equality of outcome must stand firm. We must fight the authoritarian enforcement of tolerance with the outlook that tolerance is consequential. If we treat individuals with respect and merit, people will start to look upon the Conservative Party favourably.
A further point of contestation in this fight is how the cohesion of society - one of the most important tenets of conservatism - is now being held in the balance in 2018. The threat of collectivism from the hard left will only lead to greater divisions. Corbyn’s militant cabal, Momentum, were founded not on the basis of defeating the Conservative Party, but to rid Labour of the centre left Blairites. The mere fact that the driving force behind the current manifestation of the Labour Party was founded in intolerance and conflict paints a picture for what is yet to come. Liberalism no longer has a home within the Labour Party. Liberals such as myself have firmly been told what Momentum think of us. This centre ground that Corbyn wants to stake does not exist. His claims are wholeheartedly unsubstantiated. To heal the divisions of society, the Conservative party need to show a desire to ally themselves with those who value liberty. Thankfully, the left at the moment shows their distortion of liberalism to be bogus. Signs that greeted “Tory Scum” with death threats at the Manchester conference last year demonstrates a failing of tolerance within the hard left concocted with a boiling melange of bigotry and hatred. Further intolerances shown by Labour MP’s such as Jared O’Mara and Emma Dent Coad demonstrate the extent of the malignance of bigotry that is manifested within the newly elected Labour representatives. Whilst it is pleasing to see that this bigotry is highlighted in the media, it must be remembered that these ultimately are elected representatives. As Momentum seeks to promote these sorts of people to represent their ideology, on the face of it, these divisive characters will sow their seeds of division within society.
If individuals such like those formerly mention are continued to be thrust upon the electorate, then the ball should be in the court for those who share a love for basic individualist principles. The defence for freedom of speech, expression and the pursuit of personal liberty must be upheld.
In addition to this, there needs to be a rejection of outrage culture that was so predominant in 2017. This culture of misguided outrage has been manifested in the form of vocal activism rather than the pursuit for facts. Core journalistic integrity is under threat. In the sphere of journalism, fact and reason must be held with the highest regard. Sadly this does not seem to be the case. One advantage the hard left has at its disposal is the mobilisation of vocal crusaders who push a narrative that seeks to advance their agenda rather than to progress society. We’ve seen already in 2018 that the mob of outrage warriors have deposed Toby Young from his advisory role from the Office for Students. Whilst the allegations fielded against Toby Young were not unfounded – his tweets were indeed inappropriate – we are witnessing an unequal equivalency being created in the public sphere. If tweets that are almost a decade old can withhold a position on a quango, why is further scrutiny not thrust upon those, who are quite arguably more despicable with their language, on the left? How is it that Emma Dent Coad can call Conservative parliamentary candidate Shaun Bailey a “token ghetto boy” and face no reprisal? Even Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has gone on record to call Tory MP, Esther McVey a “stain of humanity” and has called for her to be lynched, and yet continues to enjoy an untouchable position within the shadow cabinet?
To tackle these issues, The Mallard is taking a further step to help broker alliances that will seek to strengthen the appeal of the Conservative Party. As a publication that already takes pride in its attempt to sell conservatism with a dignified manner, we are now seeking to open up dialogue to a wider audience. With contributions from individuals that range from Liberals to Libertarians, from One Nationers to small “C” conservatives, we are proud to introduce our new associate podcast, The Duckhouse.
This weekly podcast will attempt to place where conservatism can be applicable to the lives of young voters, and seek to demonstrate how the Conservative Party is the natural home for those allied to defeating the hard left. With an already diverse range of contributions The Mallard publishes, The Duckhouse podcast will seek to build upon pre-existing foundations to further counter the encroachment of the hard left. If 2017 was the year in which the youth vote was mobilised by Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of socialist ideology, then 2018 must be the year in which conservatives and individualists attempt to regain momentum with young voters. The mountain to climb is indeed very high, but the gradient is not so steep. Whilst it will take time to achieve our goals, the argument for individualism and liberty will strike a chord for those who feel ignored and disenfranchised. It is vital for the rivals of conservatism to remain rooted in decency and refrain from the shameful tactics employed by the hard left as aforementioned. Internet culture has allowed the opponents of the hard left to occasionally fall foul of similar tactics, and it is our responsibility to not follow suit. Whilst evidence would suggest that those on the right are held to a far higher standard, one must take that into our stride. Yes it may be unjust, but if we can regulate ourselves to be moral and honourable, allegations thrown at those who oppose the hard left will not stand to reason, whilst those who are unregulated on the left will soon show their true colours to the electorate.