Iain has replied to my post questioning his devotion to the Tories; as he states about climate change, I ask more out of curiosity than accusation.
Where to start?! Devil's Kitchen left the Conservatives to join UKIP over one single issue - Europe. He now finds himself out of tune with the Conservatives on any number of issues.
This is not entirely true; in fact, it is all about face.
I have long been disillusioned by the Tories because of their stance on the EU; that is entirely correct (although I voted for them, with my Toynbee-esque nosepegs on). But it was Dave's embracing of the "religion" of climate change and his obvious lurch to the sort of soft socialism preached by the EU, bolstered by my reading of blogs and my increasing libertarianism that actively drove me away from the Tories.
I joined UKIP in, essentially, a fit of pique after yet another stupid announcement by Cameron and having watched Farage kicking Blair in the EU Parliament. It was after I joined that I discovered that UKIP's policies were essentially the same as mine: up until that point I had assumed, as many others still do, that they were either a single-issue party or loony, hang 'em and flog 'em right-wingers.
I now find myself very out of tune with the Conservatives and, yes, when people (including Iain and The Dude) have asked whether I would return to the Tories, I have replied that the EU is my sticking point. And it is.
On this blog I think I have made fairly clear that I support David Cameron's policy of building a big tent, in the full knowledge that there will be some policy areas where free market, tax cutting Thatcherites like me will have cause to suck our teeth.
My point is that these are pretty fucking fundamental policy issues, aren't they? I acknowledged Letwin's point about not cutting taxes immediately, but it isn't simply the level of tax that needs to be cut: it is the complexity of tax rules. These could easily be altered and still be (more or less) revenue neutral. And yet the Tories dropped their Flat Tax plans—one can only hope that they will revive them.
And free trade? I have pointed out that if you want free trade, the EU should not exist and, if it does, we should not be a part of it.
What about freedom to choose? So much of our law is driven by the EU that a political party might not even be able to deliver what the people of this country might want: the EU essentially forces our political parties to deliver "democratic socialism" because they don't have the freedom to do anything else. The EU pervades every aspect of our lives: one only needs to read Booker or EU Referendum to understand how much we aren't being told: and, of course, once the EU-wide criminal laws come in—currently proposed over racism, holocaust denial, smoking and "environmental crimes"—then our options will become even more limited. The EU isn't a side issue: it is the only truly important issue in politics right now.
DK is right that I oppose state funding for political parties, I'm a free trader and that I am a Euro Sceptic. So does this mean, as he implies, that I should leave the Tories and join UKIP? In his dreams.
Fair enough; but why then so much glee at the misfortunes of UKIP, whose policies are so much more in tune with yours, whilst including a tacit approval of the Conservatives? Because they are a threat to a Tory Party with whose policies you no longer agree? It seems to me a strange position to take: maybe it's because I am too much of an idealist
All political parties are coalitions. And within those coalitions people argue their case. I will argue my case on the issues I care passionately about even if that means that at times I am at odds with the stance of the party hierarchy.
But that then begs the question of what you passionately care about, doesn't it? Or, of course, how far you are willing to compromise your principles.
At present, Cameron's leadership is absolutely contra to all that I believe in. Perhaps it is because I believe in free trade, and liberty in general, so strongly that an opposition to the EU and a rejection the mindless, groundless, plain wrong religion of CO2 as a driver of climate change are so incredibly important to me personally. I do not view these as minor issues, to be tinkered with and negotiated around; these are absolute fundamentals and my beliefs are fundamentally at odds with those of the current Conservative Party.
Perhaps it is just that Iain and I have totally different priorities.
I've never once been asked by anyone to tone down my views on this blog.
Well, that is because your blog is not precisely controversial; and who would ask you to tone it down: the party hierarchy?
DK reckons I sometimes pull my punches because I would like to be a candidate at the next election.
No, not precisely. I did say that I thought that this might be a driving factor in your continuing support for the Tories in the face of your beliefs, yes.
What they - and others - don't like is when I praise David Cameron for the progress he has made. If I dish out criticism from time to time, then surely I am also entitled to praise Cameron and his team when I really believe they have got something right.
Of course, but Cameron has only made progress if you want to Tories to win; if you want particular policies, i.e. you believe in free trade, you are EUsceptic and you don't believe in this climate change malarkey, then this is not progress, is it? What is the point of your party winning if they do not implement the policies that you believe in? As The Nameless One—who, unlike me, was actively Tory—has pointed out, it is policies and not parties that matter.
I am not supporting the Tory party at the moment because they have ceased to speak for me. Pure and simple. It is not just the EU – there are a host of other issues I feel passionately about that the Tory party no longer either comments on or supports the same standpoint as me. And I do not venerate the Tory party, and will not support them regardlessly because I was once an active member. I have political principles that are far more important to me than being a member of a political party. This may mean I am not being pragmatic enough and I understand the “politics is the art of the possible” argument very well, but my principles out-strip the *pragmatic* at best (and downright wrong at worst) compromises that I would have to make to remain a Tory supporter under Hug A Husky Cameron.
Iain, you are, effectively, cheering on a team simply because they are your team, even though you think that they are incapable, diving shits (to take a football analogy. I think!). It is pure tribalism.
Yes, I would like to be an MP, but if I stand at the next election I want to do it in my own way on my own terms. No one likes someone who constantly greases up to the top of the party, but equally, a constant whine of criticism is equally as tedious.
Of course I understand that, but in order to have any power to change anything then you are going to need to get to a position of power. And, to do that, you are going to have to climb that greasy poll and agree with the leadership.
I would never leave the Tory Party. The Tory Party may, on occasion, leave me, but it's then my duty to stay and argue my case.
Ah, yes. Well, that is one argument; but if the Tories leave you, then what is it that you are fighting for by supporting them?
We all know all politics is temporary.
It can do an awful lot of near-permanent damage though. The North Sea fishermen—and, indeed, the fish—are still paying the price for the policies of Heath, nearly 35 years after he was removed from power.
Politicians come and politicians go.
They don't do the latter nearly enough, frankly.
Policies come and policies go. The one constant are the members of the Party who have to go out and sell the Party on the doorstep.
How does one go out and sell a party whose policies one no longer believe in?
Just because they might disagree with a few of those policies...
These are fundamental policies, damn it! These aren't a few issues on the side: they are the building blocks upon which the policies of Cameron's entire manifesto will be constructed: if you disagree with these then the rest of the policies, when finally revealed, will also be not to your liking.
... it doesn't stop them from believing that the Party they have supported through thick and thin will do a damn sight better job of governing the country that the current lot.
There are two points here:
- "the Party they have supported through thick and thin": this is pure tribalism. I support the party not policies: what the fuck is the point in that?
- "do a damn sight better job of governing the country that the current lot": even if I believed that (which, personally, I don't), I don't subscribe to negative campaigning. I didn't subscribe to it when Labour did it, and I certainly don't when the Tories do it.
Saying that this party will be better at governing the country than the other lot is slightly immaterial. They may well do better at implementing their policies than NuLabour have been, but then if I don't agree with their damn policies, why the fuck would I want that to happen?
I don't regard either of these points as a valid argument for supporting this one particular party: we live in a pluralist democracy and we have a choice of more than two parties.
I'm a Conservative, a Tory, a free marketeer and a Euro Sceptic. There can be no other Party for me than the Conservative Party. Not now. Not ever.
I can understand that: it is the same way in which I imagine you support West Ham, no matter how shit, how underhand or how corrupted they may become.
I suppose that is why I have never supported any team, in football, rugby or otherwise: I could never support anyone or anything unthinkingly, unswervingly, unconditionally. To do that I would have to anull my thinking processes and I simply cannot do that.
And all of this pretty much answers The Dude, as well.
So When Dave gets into power, just as Labour's myrmidons tried to pull the party back to their bad old ways, the activists the councillors, the youth wing will pull the Tory party towards sensible policies on tax, the environment and others, whatever the rhetoric you use to get there. If you can't persuade the Tory party, you're probably in the wrong.
I'll refer you back to The Nameless One. [Emphasis mine.]
Yeah, um, think you are over-estimating the impact one Tory party member can have. I spent a lot of my time trying to persuade other members of the validity of my positions but it did not stop the party from electing the ideological vacuum that is David Cameron as party leader. Sure, you could argue that, as a Davis supporter at the last leadership election there is an element of sour grapes seeping into my thinking. But I find the assertion that a member can influence the vast array of people in the party enough to influence the outcome of a leadership election staggeringly naïve.
All UKIP will ever be is a home for barking, far right nutters with huge egos.
So, I'm a mad, racist, jingoistic egomaniac, am I? It's not me who calls himself A Very British Dude, you know.
I agree with a lot of what they say, because I am a goose-stepping flat-taxer with a freedom fetish, who thinks the EU is evil too.
This is what is so frustrating: so many Tories do: The Dude, The Nameless One, Arthurian Legend (who I met at my brother's gig a couple of week's ago), my father, plus most of the libertarians out here in the blogosphere, in fact.
But I am also a Tory...
But this is the question: what makes you a Tory? If the Tories do not agree with your ideas, or even their old ideas, what makes them Tory? And thus what makes you, Tory?
... and I don't want extremists in power in the UK. Even if they agree with me.
So, people who believe in EU withdrawal, small government, free markets, freedom of speech and association, simpler and flatter taxes are "barking, far right nutters with huge egos".
And this libertarianism that we espouse, this freedom from the state, this free trade makes all of us libertarians "extremists"? Well, yes, perhaps it does make, for instance, me extreme; but I don't espouse these ideas as some kind of pseudo-intellectual, philosophical wankfest, for fuck's sake: I really believe that they are the best way of (minimally!) running the country.
You may be in this for the cranial stimulation, sunshine, but I'm in it because I want the practical application: this may make me an extremist, barking, far right nutter with a huge ego but I believe that everyone would be better off.
And that is at the very heart of my beliefs: with a libertarian attitude, we would all be better off. Under the near-identical policies of the Tories, Labour and LibDems (ultimately, and to an increasing degree, controlled by EU Directive), we will continue to be ruled by venal, self-interested, authoritarian arseholes whose only consistant belief is that people can only be better off when the minutiae of their lives are controlled by politicians.