Sunday, 25 September 2011

Conservative Conservatives - can it ever happen again?

The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher swept to power with a public, absolutely fed up and disillusioned with collectivism, firmly with the new harder line Conservatives and secure in a knowledge of the truth and reality of their cause. It was a time when it seemed that the Soviet Union was set to take over the world and the popular perception was that: Russia's gonna beat us (and perhaps they should).
This conservative knowledge and certainty survived the batterings of collectivist orientated thinking for (just) 18 years.
The Thatcher Government promoted individual liberty, the values of good house keeping (she is a grocer's daughter) and degrees of sound free market economics. It worked because it undid the bonds of state interference, to the extent that it did, and allowed in a profoundly liberating breath of fresh air. It did not achieve its full potential and it was thwarted and hobbled by enemies of freedom within the Conservative Party itself. However there was a spirit of freedom at work, a genuine desire and intent to liberate people from the three day week, the winter of discontent, bullying tactics of unions (led by figures who are now at the top of the Labour Party), a mindset of dependency, and other attempts at, and results of, stupidity.
The battle lines for freedom were indeed manned and commanded by conservative Conservatives. One of the first front lines was the Grunwick strike, an attempt to close down a film processing laboratory because the management and workers refused to be dominated by the totalitarian collectivist unions. Surrounded by violent pickets who refused to allow goods in or out, and a hostile postal workers union that refused to deliver the processed photographs from the laboratory to the public, the company faced bankruptcy and most folk from all political sides, in the collectivist mindset of the time, simply waited for it to happen. A group of "right-wing conservative libertarians" led by the late John Gouriet, smuggled the backlog of processed film out of the laboratory and distributed it into the postal system all around the country so that it became too dispersed to be identified.
The siege of Grunwick was broken.
Many battles were subsequently fought and won against collectivist, centrally controlled and manipulated labour unions acting simply for political power such as in the mines and ship building industries.
However any movement can be subverted with patience and cleverness.
A movement for freedom was subverted into other somewhat similar but secondary aims first by association and then after 18 years of collectivist attack by complete revision, and the Conservatives were voted out by a bored and complacent public that had come to take the advantages of relative freedom for granted. Again.
Subsequently, over a period of years, the whole movement for liberty was re-written by collectivist hacks as a failure that those who loved freedom should have jumped off before it hit the buffers.
But it was not the drive for freedom that hit the buffers. It was the Conservative Party that had been subverted from within and had simply abandoned the principles of freedom. Once the Great British Public became aware, at that level where all people recognise the truth, they abandoned the Conservative Party that had been deceived back into collectivist policies and voted Labour which had by then re-invented itself and was, in spirit, sounding more conservative that the Conservatives.


  1. Interesting take on the Tories in the 1980s in particular. Looking back on it, there was certainly a shift in culture where people began to think that starting their own business, being self-reliant, was a natural and normal thing to do.

    I'd argue that on social and constitutional questions, Thatcher's government in particular was one of the most socially authoritarian in modern history, and this tempers the notion that they were about 'personal freedom' - economically yes, but on other questions the likes of Tebbit and Howard were profoundly statist.

    Had Thatch stayed in office, would the Tories have lost the 1992 election. I've heard many within their ranks who suggest this would not have been a bad thing. New Labour would never have been perceived as necessary, Kinnock would have been a one-term disaster and the world would have spun back onto its axis by 1997.

    The stay of execution that the 'Major bounce' brought with it may turn out to be one of the worst blessings in their history.

  2. In the context of when it all happened, it was a time of freedom triumphing over pending slavery.
    It came from a far more morally rigid background, though, and so it can seem socially/behaviourally authoritarian.
    People were a lot more strict then. While there were serious and nasty political riots (as in Bristol) the recent "joy-ride" type riots would have been unimaginable.
    As always, it was a mixed bag. But the direction of travel was from the collectivist back to the individual and creative.
    Control was decreased.
    Britain had a GBP50 holiday travel allowance that was "essential" in order to stop the country falling apart. It had been in place since the 1960s.
    Somehow Margaret Thatcher's government scrapped all exchange control, and nothing changed except for the better. The "feel-good-factor" became taken as a given.
    And what came after Thatcher was, of course, the those within the Tories that were desperately seeking socialism/collectivism.