8 January 2019

The Tories must stop banging on about Corbyn and show some vision


In 1945 Winston Churchill, probably the greatest Prime Minister this country has ever had was voted out of office after accomplishing what most would describe as an almost superhuman feat. He was a leader focused on a single goal to the exclusion of all others. One who was perceived by the public to be useful to achieve one end, and one end alone. One who the British voter did not want to lead after the task at hand had been finalised. Does this seem familiar at all? Does it remind you of unfolding events a little more current?

This is almost certainly the fate that awaits the Conservative Party after Brexit. There certainly would be those who would be tempted to blame the demise of the Conservative party on its embrace of Brexit and the subsequent fallout. To do that, however, is a simplification of the real challenges that face the party. Brexit is turning into a mess because the people at the top are treating it as an administrative challenge to be managed with as little as possible impact, instead of using to create the maximum amount of positive impact.

But beyond Brexit, the real reason the party looks doomed to oblivion at the next general election is a catastrophic lack of both vision and purpose.

The Conservative government is suffering from catastrophic banality brought on by bureaucratic sclerosis. So, how does one go about turning the ship away from the iceberg? The first step is to see the iceberg. Far too many Conservative MPs are denying its existence, thinking instead that if they play it safe and don’t rock the boat too much they can ride out the storm with their seat intact. This is pure fantasy. Conservatives have to embrace the chaos and lean into the storm. There is no avoiding it. The only thing that will save the party and this country is a turn away from the process that is killing freedom by a thousand cuts.

Once they have accepted the inevitable, the next step is to rediscover what Conservative values are. Mrs Thatcher once said that the British inheritance is to have the state as our servant, not our master. Compare that to the authoritarian legislative tommyrot emanating from this government. The sheer volume of taxing and banning free choice should be a source of shame for any Conservative.

What is the Conservative vision for the future? Freedom, independence, personal responsibility and duty. These are not slogans to be tossed about when convenient. These are the core values of Western civilisation, the core values of conservatism, and the values that millions have shed blood on this and foreign soil for. If a Conservative MP is not willing to bear the burden of fighting tooth and nail for these values then they have to make way for those who will. The destiny of our country depends on it, and it is far too important to set aside for another day.

All policy should flow from these first principles. Does your pet policy enhance freedom? Does it give people more independence? Does it promote personal responsibility and duty? No? Bin it. In the absence of a clear vision for a free and prosperous Britain, the electorate will opt for a poor alternative, Corbynite Socialism, and it won’t be the electorate to blame. In front of us lies an enormous problem, and a great opportunity to make a colossal improvement to the lives of millions of people. It’s a problem that can best be solved with conservative values.

The last bit of advice I would give Conservative MPs is this: see if you can go a month without mentioning the opposition. You appear weak and purposeless by endlessly banging on about what a disaster Labour is. You are not convincing anyone. Instead of telling us about how terrible the opposition is, tell us about your vision for the future of our great nation.

Verster du Plessis is deputy chair political for Kingston and Surbiton Conservatives and works in corporate communications.