Gerald Warner: Conservatives damned by principles

David Cameron. Picture: AP
David Cameron. Picture: AP
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‘IT’S disappointing for the Conservative Party but we must remain true to our principles [sic], true to our course, and that way we can win people back.”

Thank you, Dave. We’ll let you know… David Cameron’s response to his humiliation at the hands of UKIP in the Eastleigh by-election demonstrated the enduring ­insensibility to political reality that brought the Tories to disaster in Hampshire and will end in their annihilation nationwide in 2015. Remember, you read it here first – quite a long time ago.

Three days previously we were told: “The mistake would be now… to give up to populism.” That sound establishment advice came from ex-Trotskyite activist and European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, in the aftermath of the Italian general election. The anarchic ­decision of the Italian electorate to throw its support behind former comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement has badly ruffled feathers in Brussels.

Not only has it blown apart the consensual pretence that the euro crisis is “over”, it has carried an unmistakable message to the European political class that it is regarded with immeasurable contempt by the people whose lives it aspires to control.

The word “populism” is instructive. It is used by the ruling elites to describe any policy of which they disapprove, that does not enhance their power, that does not line their pockets, that does not contribute to the demolition of the Christian ethic that informed European culture for almost two millennia. Above all, it is employed to demonise any course of action that reflects what the majority of people want, instead of what their rulers think they ought to want. It formerly had some validity: the majority is wrong more often than not. The first populist demand of the Christian era was “Give us Barabbas.”

In the context, however, of a fraudulent political system that has exploited the notion of “democracy” to install rule by consensual liberal clique, using the umbrella of the European Union to distance politicians from their constituents and absolve them from accountability, a spot of populism may be a healthy development. It would be impossible for unrestrained populist intervention to damage the ­European economy more badly than the clowns who have hitherto had unrestricted control over it, with their demented currency project. Italy remains in favour of the EU, but Grillo wants a referendum on the euro currency. The oligarchy is ­under unprecedented pressure.

We should be careful in analysing this incipient revolt. Greek electors lashed out, then came to heel. Grillo may well be a flash in the pan. The likeliest ­outcome on the continent is that things will simmer down a little; then, after an interval, a more focused rebellion will break out, probably to be worn down in turn. Each time, however, the upheaval will be stronger, until the final seismic event.

That ebb and flow should not blind us to the fact that the overthrow of the European project, the current parliamentary system and, above all, the rule of political parties is now inevitable. The British crisis is instructive. “People are sick and tired of having three social democrat parties that are frankly indistinguishable from each other,” said Nigel Farage.

In those few words he articulated the reality that Britain, until the advent of UKIP, had become a one-party state behind the facade of political competition. If Dave had been, in his weasel words, “true to our principles” he would not now be headed for the dustbin of history. The establishment spin post-Eastleigh has been transparent. Suddenly it is all right to bang on about Europe, even immigration, on the BBC, to avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room: same-sex marriage. Conservative canvassers in Eastleigh reported the attack on marriage was the biggest single reason for defection by ex-Tories. Yet one must not say so because that is ongoing legislation and if the problem were acknowledged Dave would be under pressure to drop it. Even last week, members were resigning from constituency associations in droves and it was not the loss of the AAA rating they gave as their reason.

Inside the asylum they call CCHQ and the more select Bedlam in Downing Street, where the gurus of modernisation chant placatory mantras – “mid-term”… “they’ll come back in 2015”… “modernisation must be progressed” – the senior inmates are undismayed. Mad Oliver, kitten-heeled Theresa with her drop in “net [sic] immigration”, AA1 George and Francis Maude will remain convinced their Eastleigh candidate exhibited too many vestigial Tory sympathies, modernisation must be intensified.

Meanwhile, a pantechnicon delivers a large consignment of brown trousers and bicycle clips to Tory backbenchers who lack the courage to send in the men in grey hoodies (presumably, in the modern Conservative Party) to execute Dave. Whom the gods wish to destroy… «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1