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Delingpole: After Brexit, Britain Needs Some Actual Conservatism for a Change

Nigel Jacob
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JAMES DELINGPOLE

Whoever wins the next general election I hope Jacob Rees-Mogg writes their manifesto.

His definition of conservative values seems to me an excellent guide as to the direction Britain should head post-Brexit:

Tories believe in a society that is built from the bottom up where the state is there to help and protect, not to order and direct…

and

The object of a Conservative government is to allow people to lead the lives that they want, while trying to take obstacles out of their way.

and

The best interests of the collective are served by the free choices of individuals, rather than the socialist ideal that the best interests of the individual are served by the orders of the collective.

Yes! Imagine what an amazing, prosperous and free place Britain would be if its next government understood these basic principles. What I like about them is the way they put clear blue water between the ideology of the left and the ideology of the right – but without coming across as off-puttingly ideological or too constrictingly party political.

These are principles, I believe, which the vast majority of people in Britain could buy into and agree with, regardless of whether or not they think of themselves as natural conservatives with either a small or large ‘c’.

Who doesn’t want to be respected as an individual – rather than treated as just another cog in the collective machine?

Who doesn’t want to be left free to damn well lead the kind of life they want to lead rather than the kind of life Big Brother thinks is in their best interests?

Who doesn’t want the state to be a help rather than a hindrance?

Getting your manifesto – and your underlying principles – right is a tricky business. It can easily lose you more voters than it wins you, as Theresa May demonstrated with characteristic brilliance at the last general election.

It’s why, you might argue, Nigel Farage is playing a clever game with his Brexit party. One of the reasons it is doing so well in the polls is that, apart from delivering Brexit, it doesn’t have any stated policies. In fact, Farage says the word manifesto has become synonymous with lies and broken promises, so says the party will never have one.

This means it’s a bit like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter: it reflects whatever your deepest wish is.

So, if you’re a revolutionary Marxist with libertarian tendencies, you can cheer yourself this is the party of defiant anti-Conservatives like Claire Fox.

If you’re a pro-Israel, pro-small-business Thatcherite entrepreneur, you’ll love the fact that East London smoked salmon king Lance Forman is on their candidates’ list because it means the Brexit Party is going to become the party that the Conservatives should have been.

If you were tempted to vote Green but lack the requisite Communist instincts, then you might well go for Brexit instead because one of its candidates — the ex-Special Forces guy — describes himself as an “environmentalist.”

My problem with this broad church philosophy is that the Brexit Party is in danger of becoming the Conservatives 2.0 – the party that believes in (almost) nothing and won’t stand up for anything in case it says something that someone somewhere doesn’t like.

A concomitant danger, I fear, is that there are lots of people out there who’ve been so unhinged by the sheer bloody awfulness of the Conservatives that they’ll be yearning for a Year Zero approach to policymaking. They’ll get it into their heads that any policy that sounds like the kind of policy the hated Conservatives might have come up with must perforce be rejected out of hand because it’s tainted by the Conservative label.

These people exist, I know they do, because some of them are going to be appearing in the comments below this piece. They’re so blinkered they probably didn’t even get past the bit where I said positive things about Jacob Rees-Mogg…

Nigel Farage is not stupid. I’m sure he has thought of all this. And I know that his personal ideological instincts are sound: au fond, I suspect he still thinks of himself as the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative party in exile.

But I do worry that if he’s not careful and the Brexit party goes on trying to be all things to all men, it will end up satisfying nobody and becoming just as squishy and pointless as the hateful, useless Conservatives.

Where is the Brexit Party going to end up standing on energy and the environment, for example?

It’s all very well going to rallies and promising to “change politics for good”. But as we know from the disastrous Obama era, that word “change” can cover a multitude of sins.

On energy and environment, for example, that word “change” could be exploited to mean – “We’re going to go full Attenborough. We’re going to bomb our economy back into the dark ages and take everything the BBC tells us seriously because there’s only one planet and we’ve got to save it!”

Or it could mean: “No subsidies for renewables or any of that bollocks. From now on we’re going to let our environmental policy be decided by people who actually understand the environment: naturalists, conservationists, farmers, gamekeepers, countrymen – not townie eco-loons like Chris Packham.”

There is no middle ground between these two positions. Or rather there, is but the Conservative party is currently occupying it, to no useful purpose whatsoever.

Indeed, whenever I hear a little voice in my head saying “Come on. The Conservatives are still the best chance of delivering what you want,” all I have to do is read an article like the one Boris Johnson wrote the other day where he talked about CO2 ‘pollution.’

That’s ‘CO2’ as in the harmless trace gas which is greening the planet.

If this is the best the Conservative party can do at its most Brexity and free market, then that is a sign for me that its useful days are over and that — after sounding a hunting horn in its ear, perhaps blowing ‘gone away’, as you do with cherished old steeds which once served you well — the time has come to put a bullet in its head and start looking for a livelier replacement.

I’m an ideologue, not a loyal party man. I really couldn’t give a damn whether Britain’s next government has a Conservative label or a UKIP label or a Brexit party label or a Monster Raving Loony party label just so long as it does two things…

One, obviously, is that it has to deliver full Brexit. Democracy deserves no less. And if it’s not delivered in full then we’ll have years of unrest and instability and possibly a revolution on our hands.

The other is that it has to stop micromanaging our lives and enforcing political correctness – and instead leave us alone, with more of our own money, to get on and enjoy a prosperous, post-Brexit future.

You can call that conservatism or whatever you like. All I know is that there’ll be a lot of support — and from diverse ends of the political spectrum — for whichever party is capable of delivering it.

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