The Problem with Wets: Part II | Luke Doherty
In a recently published article for The Mallard, I discussed the topical problem with liberal and careerist wets within the Conservative Party. The comments that I made came after months of working and observing such individuals, and taking note of their behaviour on and offline. What became increasingly clear to me is that there continues to be a large contingent of careerists involved with the Conservative Party with liberal and left-leaning sympathies. They felt comfortable in the party under Theresa May or David Cameron, but ultimately they are young people who lack any ideological commitment or discernible principles, and who are clearly involved in politics for the wrong reasons.
In making this point, all of the right people appear to have been offended. This is a reliable indication that what I had been arguing contained a certain amount of truth that is deeply uncomfortable for some people. Along with other outraged responses, the metaphorical clutching at pearls and shrieks of horror proved that the shoe fits perfectly.
It has been suggested that it was an unwise move to assault my political opponents within the party in the way that I did. I disagree. It should not be unexpected to find inflammatory and passionate language in a comment piece for an online publication. Unfortunately, the truth hurts. There will be no apologies for an attack on individuals who desperately require political reassignment, or rather a severe dressing down for their careerist aspirations. I remain firmly resolute in my opposition to those who have no views of their own, or more importantly, those who are completely devoid of ideas. These are the spineless people who are willing to climb the greasy pole and exploit any gravy-train they can find.
I admit that for some people, it might have been a harsh and unwelcome reality check to read an honest account of those they might know or have experienced. How awful it must be for a social conservative to sketch an accurate portrait of you or your friends in an unflattering light. But we have to bravely admit that many of the individuals involved in the Conservative Party simply manipulate the ambiguity and leniency of being ‘broad-church’ to mask their own radically progressive tendencies. We also have to realise that many are only committed to conservatism because they have found a place for themselves in the party machine, and are thus accepted into a network of similarly inclined liberals who only inflate each others egos. This is most obviously demonstrated in the precarious place that is Tory Twitter.
Why does all of this matter so much? It is true that we do not need to be philosophers or rigid ideologues to be conservatives, but I am convinced that we do need to have some stars by which we guide our ship. But as RJ White explains, conservatism is “less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living.”
The views we have and the position we take must be rooted in ideas. These ideas must have been thought about and debated; and must be ideas we are convinced by and believe in. It is hard to have ideas and instincts, and even harder to defend them. No wonder so many decide to have none at all. But for those who do, the university campus is an ideal place to work out our fundamental beliefs on important issues such as the state, the economy and the monarchy – and work out ways to defend them.
By being sure of our own conservatism, and being able to articulate a defence of it, we can liberate ourselves from the intellectual chains of woke leftism and identity politics. Then we can focus on presenting a compelling case to the electorate for why they should vote Conservative at the next General Election. Such an attitude is the right one to have because it ensures we do not fall victim to complacency or naivety, and in making the case for conservatism now, any arrogant bubbles that supposes we have a Divine Right to Rule will be burst.
Despite what my critics might argue, engaging with ideas and having something to believe in does not have to be a great intellectual expedition. There are many benefits to reading and understanding the work of conservative philosophers, commentators and polemicists, but an easier way to decide what you believe in is to think carefully about what matters and to discuss them with others – especially over a pint. Here young people can comfortably explore different points of view and exchange opinions, rather than dogmatically stick to an assorted bunch of party policies, and not think for themselves.
Some of the Young Conservatives I have criticised – with their misaligned views that contrast the broader conservative movement, or their erroneous belief that their membership in a smaller party will effect radical change – have decided to leave the Conservative Party. This is welcome news, and indicates that if liberals can’t take the heat, the door isn’t closed for them to leave. Such an exodus might prove extremely beneficial. If the Liberal Democrats is for liberals, then surely the Conservative Party must be for conservatives.