I’ve got a confession to make - I haven’t always been a Tory.
When I was a child and a young adult, my perception of a Tory was someone who had a poster of Mrs Thatcher hanging up in their bedroom and thought that the Poll Tax was the greatest government idea our nation ever had.
Then, when I was at University, a dear friend of mine said he was an arch Gladstonian and, having been raised in a household where that name wasn’t a cardinal sin, I also thought I leant that way politically. Nonetheless, this good friend of mine turned to me and said I was the Disraeli to his Gladstone. At first I was a little taken aback: “Disraeli was a Tory though?” But nonetheless, I took this comment on board and went away to read more about his work.
I have to be honest, at first I was slightly skeptical. That being because I originate from an area in which Thatcher’s economic policies hit hard, and I could not begin to imagine a different type of Toryism had ever existed. How wrong I was! This conservative, a man both nationally patriotic in outlook but reformist to help his people, precisely fitted my own outlook of the world: the use of a Christian socially conservative agenda, in which charities became acted as a tool to help people who were at the bottom end of society; a French phrase, Noblesse Oblige, the notion that those at the top help those in the working classes and work together to stave off the greed of a liberal-elite who only cared about making attainment of wealth and being driven by money; an agrarian mindset, supportive of British industry and also our Empire – though I would now replace that with our Commonwealth family. In that moment it hit me: was I actually a Conservative? As I read more and more I began to realise that this was actually the norm until Thatcher’s Classical-Liberalism-cum-Libertarian ideas had taken over the Tory Party in the 1980s and I was sat wondering, ‘Why did Conservatism embrace the ideals that Disraeli actively opposed against God’s Only Mistake?’ (Gladstone… certainly not my friend who says he is his hero however).
Then I realised I was also a classicist - a High Tory in some circles. Someone who likes high-culture such as the Arts, a long time history enthusiast and now history graduate, an Anglican - that only touches the surface. Above all else though: a National Conservative, in that I am patriotic, and wish our culture could embrace that element a bit more. Yet, I sadly soon came to be disillusioned with the Tory Party at Prayer nickname: it didn’t befit all modern ‘conservatives’ and I thought, “well I guess I’m in the minority in my party now”.
Again, how wrong was I? I have been so grateful to meet several other self-professed Tories who feel just like I do, and a few weeks ago I was approached to be involved in a group now known as The Britannia Alliance. Our aim is simple and just - to make The Conservative & Unionist Party more socially conservative in its outlook again. More patriotic. More dedicated to high culture. The church. Society - the organic society every Tory seemed to believe in, once.
I am proud to be the inaugural chairman of said movement and we are growing in numbers day by day. Our founder, Matt Gravill, has done wonders in bringing us all together from nothing and our committee is a very strong unit indeed. Full of younger people (I must stress I am only 26 myself), we really feel enthused and believe that with the right attitude - traditionalism could be on its way back into the Conservative voice of Britain again.
Some of the ideas we are discussing are policies that I believe could resonate with the population of the United Kingdom. Without going into too much detail at this stage - these include policies to improve our military spending, housing, education, health, industry, agriculture and fisheries (post-Brexit), a safety net for the poorest and progressive taxation which could really help small businesses to stay the duration. We will be publishing a full manifesto in due course but believe we’ve identified real issues pertinent to many in the UK and are seeking to find ways to promote policies which could become mainstream Tory thinking. It is imperative we start to look at the UK as a whole rather than keep wealth centralised as we have fallen foul of in recent times.
Our door is always open to anyone who shares our aims. As our constitution states, “The Britannia Alliance believes that Britons have a solemn duty to preserve the best of their rich cultural inheritance and to hand it down intact to future generations, retaining Britain’s ancient institutions while safeguarding the hard-won liberties of the individual”.
On behalf of the team, we look forward to your help in this journey.
Robin Popley is Chair of The Britannia Alliance.