edmund burke

The Burkean Dilemma – and The Need for Constitutional Vandalism

Cast your mind back to your infantile beginnings on the internet – do you remember when a mix of teenage dissent and good taste brought you upon hours and hours of Peter Hitchens clips? The talking points remain engraved in my brain at least. Scorning Elizabeth Truss for being a Liberal Democrat, lamenting the decline, smugly enjoying being the most right-wing man in the room; these old YouTube clips are foundational for many of us. It is through this canon that many reading, I’m sure, found themselves on the Right. Thereby the ideology of Hitchens and the most searing of his convictions have necessarily branded our  convictions – and made sour many aspects of reformation. 

Ironically, the Burkean is a Tory in its most visceral, honest conception. There is no mistaking the conservatism of this sort, it conserves – it is the noun made verb with very little impurities included. You know the lines, ask why the fence is there before you knock it down. You know the policies, maintain the Lords, maintain the Monarchy, maintain above all; the Constitution.

The Constitution of England is a truly beautiful phenomena; it is our unique testament unto this world. No other people over millennia could produce such a sprawling web of good governance and sound law. Furthermore, the fact it was never sat down and written, but came forth from our historical experiences over a thousand years further adds to its splendour. Through the test of time, it has not only secured this nation but irrigated the unique liberties afforded within it. 

It is the Constitution, and adoration for it, that makes a Tory. These sentiments are in-born, and felt from a young age before one has even been acquainted with the exacts of the Constitution. Hence, Enoch Powell as a young boy would take off his cap entering the chamber wherein the first Prince of Wales was born. Such a thing is but second nature to an inherently Tory character, it is an inseparable feature of their character to revere what has come before them – thereby their politics becomes a ritual of removing one’s cap and bowing. 

It is natural then that not just a principled opposition but a genuine disgust is exhibited when the foundations of our governance and law are tinkered with. It is felt that to damage the beams built over thousands of years that have maintained Britain’s Constitution is to risk a cave falling in on itself, and a millennia’s effort being destroyed in the process. Therein, the Tory is daunted to even mutter the name Blair. 

Removing privileges of the Lords and creating an American-style Supreme Court would likely have been enough to make Enoch Powell croak ten times over – and to this day continues to drive Peter Hitchens into the ground, and it’s clear to see why. The whole Blairite infrastructure continues to allow the spectre of New Labour to linger endlessly. Almost any attempt to combat mass immigration is smashed by some grotesque machination of an early 2000s civil servant. 

We have been shown time and time again that the subversive elements of our political class have no regard for these ancient precepts. It is no vice to bend the very structure of this nation in order to inject Liberalism through it. It is for this reason, that we on the Right find ourselves within a Burkean dilemma.

Our base instincts warn us against any constitutional reform. Whether we even express this fact outwardly, this feeling that what has worked for millennia should not be fiddled with is, as mentioned, a petit-pathology of ours. However, if we are to combat a force willing to bend these rules, then we doom ourselves if we do not adapt to this landscape. There is no virtue in taking off our caps to a nation in flames, safe in the knowledge that it was the good timber set alight. 

The Blair Cabal was willing to entrench a vapid, corrosive anarcho-tyranny within the fabric of this country, and Starmer will only bolster it as he takes up the torch. On these matters, we must unfortunately get our hands dirty. 

Let us use the debate regarding first-past-the-post as an example. Our nature appreciates this institution, it works reasonably well and has done since we thought voting would be a jolly good idea. However, as the Tories and Labour are both infected with the corrosive modernity of our day – what good is the thing? Reform, despite their best efforts, poll in some indications third in terms of vote share, yet are projected to gain not a single seat. The classic UKIP effect, a deliberate design of our voting system to ensure that radical sorts and ruffians can’t steer us on a path of destruction whenever a good demagogue comes about. This is a sound principle . . . when England was a nation of civil, well-mannered people. Hitchens reminds us – ‘there is an inch between Labour and the Conservatives, but it is within that inch we all live.’ This principle rings true when the key debates of a society concern marginal tax rates and the exacts of social spending. It rings a tone of death for a nation embroiled in the debates of our day. 

This constitution of ours is unique to us. It could not have come about among any other people, no other nation has matched our wonderful system of civil existence, and those that came close certainly did not happen upon it as we did. The English Constitution is nothing without the Englishman, thereby if the Englishman be doomed then so be his systems of governance and law. 

If we can determine that the threats that face us are existential, then the truth of the matter is we must bite the bullet and do away with some of these constitutional features. What good is maintaining first-past-the-post if we are to be a minority within our own homeland by the middle of this century? Why would some among us sooner see the passing of the Englishman than the reformation of what he has produced?

It is the nature of our folk that produced these things; if we lose our nation we lose everything. If some of our dearest institutions must be cleared out it is a price worth paying for our survival. If a fence in the forest impedes us, we have no time to consult a passerby on the reason for its presence when behind us a bear looms. 

The Burkean dilemma is this – the Constitution or England. First-past-the-post or our survival. The House of Lords or English children with a future to look forward to?

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