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Opinion

What is the Conservative Party for?

06 Nov 2022 5 minute read
Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter at the Manston immigration short-term holding facility. PA images Gareth Fuller

Ben Wildsmith

I’m going to break this down very simply. When a country is invaded, it is justified to use force against the invading forces.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman chose to characterise the arrival of migrants on the south coast of England as an ‘invasion’ three days after Andrew Leak, 66, threw firebombs at an immigration processing centre in Dover.

What possible interpretation can there be for her language, other than that the attack was, if not justified, then rationally explicable?

In the days between the attack and the Home Secretary’s intervention, disgraced former UKIP leader Henry Bolton sought to explain the attack as an expression of ‘frustration’ at the Home Office’s failure to deal with small craft landing in Kent.

There was a time when the Conservative Party’s remit included a commitment to upholding robust patriotic values as a bulwark against dangerous nationalism.

For all your racist uncle’s ‘Enoch was right’ grumbling, Powell was never given sway over a party that recognised the fine line it needed to tread. He exiled himself into Ulster unionism: an early indicator of what a blind alley that would turn out to be.

Similarly, despite his profile, Nigel Farage has failed to find a place at the top table of British politics.

Now, however, we have a Home Secretary who looks at the repellent utterances of Bolton et al and seeks not only to legitimise them, but to exceed their potential to inflame.

Cavalier stewardship

Clearly delighting in her notoriety, Braverman chose to visit Kent in a Chinook helicopter later in the week. Here’s Henry again, cheering her on. Alexa, show me gaslighting…

Braverman’s behaviour is explicable in two ways.

Firstly, she is under intense pressure to resign again or be sacked over her cavalier stewardship of government documents.

It makes sense for her to change the narrative by any means necessary, and also to throw red meat to the Daily Mail readership who can be relied upon to view her removal as a ‘woke’ betrayal of the insane values that their end of the country has adopted to distract from the obvious failure of Brexit.

Braverman, though, is no actress. Plenty of Tories have resorted to base populism when their backs have been against the wall, only to return to the status quo when the pressure was off. Leaky Sue, however, means every word. So, how has the Tory party got into a position whereby its historical refusal to merge with the far right is so imperilled?

For the answer to that you need to stare into the haunted eyes of Jeremy Hunt. While Rishi Sunak can’t hide his delight at being made Head Boy once again, Hunt has the look of a man charged with dire responsibilities.

It is being widely briefed that next week the Chancellor will impose taxes on second homes and share dividends. He’s also predicted to raise capital gains tax.

This will place the government far to the left of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party on the economy, and complete a five-week journey for the Tories from Kwasi Kwarteng’s Reaganomic wonderland to a strange new home next door to John McDonnell.

In the light of this people will rightly ask what the Conservative Party is for?

The free market couldn’t thrive during Covid, neither has it responded to Brexit as we were promised it would.

Privatised entities from rail to the utilities are increasingly reliant on state intervention and we are all receiving seemingly random payments from the government in an attempt to keep the country afloat.

Human misery

As the economic ethos of modern conservatism is abandoned in this chaos, its proponents have nowhere to turn but the scapegoating of migrants and the civil servants charged with administering failed policies.

The Manston migrant centre, which is meant for 1600 people and currently holds over 4000, has seen outbreaks of diphtheria and MRSA amongst its unfortunate residents. Violence has become endemic and despite a supposed maximum stay of 24 hours, some families have been there sleeping on the floor for over a month.

The plight of refugees isn’t a problem of the country’s governance, it is an emblem of it. Failed economic theories and a kleptocratic ruling class have left the UK on the verge of financial ruin and the conditions in Manston are a microcosm of the wrecked public services that we are enduring up and down the country.

Sunak’s willingness to accept Braverman as the price of support from MPs on the right of his party represents the final death of the Tory Party as we have known it.

Her language is indistinguishable from the line taken by the British National Party in the early years of this century and reflective of the shrinking constituency to which conservatives must appeal to remain viable.

A party that is content to trade on human misery as its sole appeal to voters is beyond hope and, from my perspective, beyond satire.

The sheer ugliness of what is unfolding in our names at Westminster is a stain upon us all, and we must never forgive it.


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Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

The self preservation of a gamut of right wing vested interests and a singular nationalist vision of an Anglo-Britain.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

“What is the Conservative party for?” I’ll tell you what it’s for. When they get into power it is an opportunity for them, the rich, their finance friends, lawyers, Oxford and Cambridge colleagues etc. to fill their pockets by milking every penny they can from the country and the taxpayer and to do big favours for each other in lucrative contracts. The party exists only for those purposes. Anything else they do is for show only.

Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Actually mostly just Oxford. Kwasi Kwarteng was a Cambridge man, but he didn’t last long.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I had to check what paper I was reading then…well said Ben (and N.C)

Knight G1
Knight G1
1 month ago

I doubt that there are many people who can defend the current Conservative Party, but the same question could be asked What is the Labour Party for? Or even What is Plaid Cymru for?

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Knight G1

You appear to be trying with your whataboutism?

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
1 month ago

Easy, they are ‘for’ self enrichment, you and I count for nothing! So you can freeze or starve, your choice folks!

Cat
Cat
1 month ago

Well written. Well said. The Conservative Party exist to perpetuate and protect the wealth of the few and to use whatever tools they have to manipulate the many into unconsciously or consciously supporting this aim.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

The traditional Conservative party is dead. It died when it merged with the Brexit party. Brexit was never going to succeed and with its demise, by our eventual rejoining, it will be the final nail in the coffin for the party. I’m sure there will be some sort of runt party left but it’ll be like a white dwarf star, a shadow of its former self. The sooner that happens the quicker the country can start to recover.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Duggan
Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

In the 2019 election, the Conservative Party managed to achieve success by using the Brexit Party as a teaser ram, which excited a certain range of voters, then stood aside, and the Tory party took their votes.
Perhaps people who wouldn’t have switched directly to the Tory party, once the Brexit party had first interested them were more susceptible.

Clive Thomas
Clive Thomas
1 month ago

“Beyond satire” indeed. Nothing funny about the mess we are in. This makes Ben Wildsmith’s usual funny read even more impactful. Duw a’n gwaredo!

Mawkernewek
1 month ago

The Conservative Party in government is like a load of people playing a role-playing game, cosplaying as this or that, but actually being in government.
This is seen ever time Boris Johnson appeared on tv news dressed up as someone else, like committing the offence of impersonating a police officer when he tagged along for some stage-managed police operation, Liz Truss’ various instagram posts, or indeed Suella Braverman visit Manston by getting a ride in a military helicopter at taxpayers expense.

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