The Tories’ identity crisis: what do they stand for but themselves? | Daniel Hawker

Standing outside of Downing Street in 2010, David Cameron declared his intention to lead a government “that is built on some clear values”. Within that first speech, he spoke of providing strong and stable government, rebuilding trust in the political system, and making sure the frailest in society are supported.

Fast forward to 2022 – the Conservatives have now been in power for 12 years, and have no values, vision, or redeeming talent to speak of. They’re a ship with neither a rudder nor a map (plus a constantly changing captain). And it can be traced back to Cameron – asked by Owen Jones in 2015 to describe what the PM stood for, Peter Hitchens argued nothing aside from ‘obtaining office for the sons of gentlemen’. Plodding along without any coherent sense of direction, the continuation of Tory rule has become their sole driving force – their current existence is entirely focused on staying in/achieving office.

This survivalist approach has meant that, in the policy areas the Tories have claimed to fight the hardest for, they’ve had the most destructive impact.

Let’s take law and order as an example. Prime Ministers and Home Secretaries of the past 12 years have consistently stuck to the ‘tough-on-crime’ narrative, all whilst overseeing a catastrophic breakdown in the quality of policing and public safety. We’ll take the Cambridgeshire Constabulary as a case study: between 2011 – 2018, the average arrival time for a high-priority call began at 11 minutes, rising to a disgraceful 29 mins in 2012, and ending on 20 mins in 2018. Even people waiting for a lower-priority arrival saw three hours in 2018, compared to just over one hour in 2010.

Looking beyond just the numbers, Britain’s inept policing has allowed monstrous and vile acts to occur. Within the horrific knife crime epidemic plaguing London, the case of Thomas O’Halloran is particularly memorable. This August, the 87-year-old grandfather was fatally stabbed several times whilst on his mobility scooter – this was in broad daylight. Or take the police’s moral failure regarding grooming gangs – the past decade has seen the identification of over 10,000 gangs, but less than a tenth have been charged, with the Greater Manchester Police deemed ‘borderline incompetent’. Countless young people scarred for life, and our supposed ‘protectors’ fear prosecuting over accusations of racial profiling.

Turning to Britain’s social fabric, the Conservatives has overseen its rapid deterioration, with very few still believing in the virtues of married family life – they’re all consigned to the Cornerstone Group. In Cameron’s speech, he mentioned desiring “a society with stronger families”. But these Tory governments have done everything possible to destroy it, primarily through divorce. Having faced liberalisation throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the final nail-in-the-coffin came this year, with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which introduced ‘no-fault’ divorce. With parties no longer required to even debate their marital tensions, sacred vows of lifelong devotion are now meaningless in Tory Britain.

Regarding the matter of immigration, this period of Tory rule has been truly disgraceful in terms of the numbers. In only the first 15 days of November, Migration Watch reported just over 2,000 people crossing in small boats, with the number since 2018 being 81,327. Furthermore, sources from the Home Office had speculated that the UK could receive up to 60,000 people by small boat this year, double 2021’s record. But what will our Conservative overlords do about this crisis? Well, Suella Braverman has admitted that illegal immigration is ‘out of control.’ Why yes Suella, but both you and Priti Patel have followed strong rhetoric up with zero action and zero results.

The hard truth is that successive Tory governments has seen this country and its people get poorer, weaker, meeker, and angrier. And it’s because they don’t represent what their name claims – the Conservative and Unionist Party, since taking power in 2010, has truly been the rightful ‘heir to Blair’. Nothing of substance has done about his axing of hereditary peers in 1999, or his creation of a British supreme court, or the damage he caused the Union through devolution – and that’s saying nothing of the notorious Equality Act.

These (allegedly) rightist parliamentarians are, overall, a bunch of careerist neoliberals, who lack morals, values, or any desire to shake up the status quo. All five PMs have been wet globalists, both Truss and Johnson have engaged in affairs, and numerous Tory MPs stand accused of heinous acts of sexual assault (just take Chris Pincher as one example). Actual results haven’t been required for a while now, that’s how the Tories see it. Having faced no decent scrutiny from any post-2010 Opposition, actual conservative values have gone out the window. True they’ve had a slew of temporary rallying points – Brexit since 2016, Covid in 2020, and 2022 has the Ukrainian situation. But these have merely been Stalingrads, diversions, to draw the public’s focus away from the Tory Party’s crisis of identity. It’s out of conservatism, of ideas, of any quality talent, and anything resembling dynamism.

The younger generations are coming to realise this, I think. Online especially, we’ve seen the emergence of a counter-hegemony amongst the disaffected dissident right. On Twitter alone, there are publications like The Mallard, IM-1776, and The Critic, as well as organisations like Orthodox Conservatives and Reasoned. Highlighted recently in a particular UnHerd article, many young Tories are increasingly resentful of established careerist politicians, instead turning to figures like Farage for political strategy. Additionally, the radical and bombastic American Right are fast becoming an inspiration for disillusioned British conservatives, who now heed the guidance of Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk.

If the Conservatives want to remain a strong electoral force they’ll need to, as Cameron highlighted, “face up to our really big challenges, to confront our problems”. That means getting serious about crime, social breakdown, out-of-control immigration, cultural preservation etc. But even more crucial is re-establishing a clear value system for the party, one which can be the framework for truly conservative policies.

If the polls continue in their current direction, then the Tories are heading towards electoral decimation in 2024. But perhaps a change in scenery will be just what they need. Electability may be crucial, but you won’t survive long if you stand for nothing but yourself.

Photo Credit.

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