An Uncertain Future for Conservatives | Mike Lyons

The Thatcher era will for some, serve as a reminder of the hay day of True Conservatism- a time period where the conservative ideology truly came to fruition under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, and people across the country – and indeed, across the world – were able to see the true effect of both fiscal and social conservatism. For many, this time serves as a reminder of the positive and in many ways life changing policies and actions that come from the concept of conservatism. 

However, regardless of the fact that we presented the country with an effective solution and an even more effective “true conservative Government”, every leader post-Thatcher has moved the Conservative party further and further towards the Centre. We’re told more and more now that our party is a “broad church”- and indeed it may be. But the fact is that further centre we go – and as our party focuses increasingly on becoming a “broad church” – we are leaving behind the true meaning of Conservatism and are becoming conservative in name only.

What would Churchill or Disreali say? How would Sir Robert Peel react if he say the “Conservative Party” in its current form? 

As a party we have let ourselves and future generations down. We have turned away from what we should represent and focused on being the party of Government. We have turned true conservatives away, and will continue to do so the further we venture towards Centrism.

Whilst the Labour party are still very much the Labour party, and whilst the Liberal Democrats are still the liberal democrats, we are no longer a conservative party. In many ways we have manifested into a form that could be known as Labour Lite – Socialist and Liberal Policies without Socialist and Liberal Politicians. For me, the emergence of “labour lite” first showed itself following the 2010 General Election, after going into coalition with the Lib Dems, where we conceded far too many left of centre policy ideas, for the sake of getting into Government.

Of course, some would argue that this is an acceptable path to election: more and more young people identify as left leaning, and this is a way of making ourselves more appealing to them; but ultimately in doing so we leave behind our roots. If our party wants to survive it must remember the concept of true conservatism and should stand its ground over the principles of both social and fiscal conservatism. If not the Conservative Party will die a slow and painful death, as every election passes entering closer and closer into the idea of socialism- until the only thing that differs ourselves from both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats is our names.

Look at the House of Commons. Yes, as a Party we have some outstanding and excellent MPs – but mixed in are a cohort of MPs who, for the sake of career progression, seemed to have picked up a blue rosette rather than a yellow rosette – and for every one of these “yellow conservatives’, we step further and further away of what Sir Robert Peel’s image of the Conservative Party.

These MPs treat the House of Commons like a playground, where they use their status to gain fame, influence and popularity. Whether it be by making humorous videos on social media site Tik Tok, or trying to gain the attention of reality TV stars by asking to follow their constituency staff on social media, or even by arguing publicly with their objectors on Twitter.

How can we expect young voters to vote Conservative come polling day when we refuse to accept who and what we stand for, and more so refuse to offer and fresh alternative for our country. A vision that protects our sovereignty, that ensures a flexible labour market and that protects free trade. Furthermore, too even off a staunchly different image to that of Labour or the Lib Dems.

So, how to we change? I believe, simply if we want to change then we have to change the people who represent us. Within our party the prospect of Mandatory Re-Selection is rarely spoke of. To many it may even seem bizarre – but it works. It ensures that every Constituency that has a Conservative MP is represented by someone who holds true conservative values, and indeed strives to serve after the following elections, and poses the opportunity to elect more constituency focused MPs, who will generally be seen more by their constituents because they understand that their local party will have the opportunity to axe them prior to the next election. But it also poses as an opportunity to remove the “deadwood” (or as Mrs Thatcher might say “the Wets”), MPs who don’t work for their constituencies, and who don’t focus on being an active MP. Subsequently it allows these MPs to be replaced with candidates who truly care about the party and who demonstrates conservative values and who embodies the core principles of our party. This candidate can play an active part in ensuring the preservation of conservatism.

The next election will be crucial for our Country- and whilst it is still and further 5 years away we have to have an open conversation with ourselves. We can start by asking two simple questions. What type of politicians do we want to have in our party? And what type of legacy do we want to leave for future generations of conservatives?

Photo by Matthew Jimmison on Flickr.

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