Category Archives: Conservative Party (UK)

May days

In 1903, when Dalrymple was still a young man, Joseph Chamberlain suddenly converted from free trade to protectionism. Looking back on those days, Dalrymple thinks that what followed bears comparison with the situation prevailing in England today. He writes:

Though the times were generally prosperous (judged by their own standards), Chamberlain argued that unfair foreign competition was harming, and even destroying, British agriculture and industry. The solution was protectionism within the British Empire. The Conservative party, led (or at least, headed) by the highly intellectual Arthur Balfour, was deeply divided. As Harry Cust put it, ‘I have nailed my colours to the fence.’ Balfour, prime minister, refused to express himself clearly, for fear of alienating one or other of the factions and thereby bringing the government down. He proved incapable of exercising leadership. In the election that followed, the Conservatives were swept from power. Neither free-traders nor protectionists trusted them. For many years, the Conservatives were a party whom its enemies need not fear and its friends did not trust.

May: another mediocrity

It takes a certain gift, writes Dalrymple,

to combine cliché with error, but Theresa May — to judge by her speech to the Conservative party conference — appears to have it in full. In so far as the speech did not consist of the most hackneyed and empty phrases, it could have been delivered by any Labour leader before Jeremy Corbyn, and part of it even by Mr Corbyn himself.

May, says Dalymple,

wants, and I suspect is perfectly able, to turn Britain into a macrocosm of the giant official inquiry into sexual abuse that she set up when home secretary, which as we can see has been so very successful. To quote the kind of language Mrs May (among other politicians) employs, it delivers a lot of value — to the lawyers.

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The folly of underestimating Corbyn

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-18-40-46It would be a mistake, writes Dalrymple, to conclude that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK socialists, is unelectable. Talk of the demise of his Labour party

is premature: we heard it when Mrs Thatcher won her third election, and we heard of the death of the Tory party after Mr Blair’s third election victory.

Dalrymple points out that when things go badly,

people seek an alternative, even if by rational calculations the alternative is worse than the status quo.

If there were

a serious economic downturn or some other hardship that occurred under the present dispensation, people soon would look for another.

It is true that as things stand,

Mrs May would win hands down if there were an election tomorrow. But a day – an hour in the age of the social media – is a long time in politics.

Corbyn is eminently electable

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.59.16If the rumours are true, writes Dalrymple, that certain Tories (i.e. adherents of the British centre-Right ruling party the Conservatives) have

signed up to vote for Mr Corbyn because, if chosen, he would make Labour unelectable, nothing would better illustrate the idiocy to which certain Tories are prone.

In Europe’s

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.48.59present precarious circumstances, no one is unelectable. A crisis, not necessarily of the government’s making, could easily swell popular discontent so that it would prefer any alternative; and that is without counting the fact that all governments tend to become very unpopular with time, whether they deserve it or not. Time for a change: and Mr Corbyn would certainly be a change.

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The uncolumnist

Hitchens is a onetime communist (Trotskyist, to be more precise) who unlike so many of this species has had the guts to admit that he was wrong and that the doctrines he espoused were evil

Hitchens is a onetime communist (Trotskyist, to be precise). Dalrymple points out, however, that unlike so many of his kind, Hitchens has had the courage and intellectual honesty to admit that he was profoundly wrong — indeed, crack-brained — and that the doctrines he espoused were murderous and evil

The Mail on Sunday censor has been at work. Peter Hitchens, the onetime Trotskyist who is the Rothermere-owned newspaper’s best writer, has had his columns spiked, the skewering being timed to coincide with the run-up to, and the aftermath of, the British general election.

It is speculated that the newspaper, recognising the commercial imperative of identification with the winning side, decided — after seeing which way the wind was blowing — that it would back the Conservatives. It would help that disreputable party secure a convincing victory. It gagged Hitchens so as to ensure that readers would not be influenced to follow his (wise) counsel. This has long been that right-thinking, decent people ought to desist from voting for the corrupt Tories.

According to the magazine Private Eye, Hitchens (who has not been silenced altogether — there remains much engaging material on his blog) is ‘talking to his lawyers’.

Reviewed by Dalrymple: Hitchens's 2003 polemic

Reviewed by Dalrymple: Hitchens’s 2003 polemic

Dalrymple reviews Hitchens’s A Brief History of Crime

Hitchens’s rage at what has been done to British society is more than justified, Dalrymple writes. In A Brief History of Crime, Hitchens is especially astute on the matter of the failings of the British criminal justice system. Hitchens has discovered, Dalrymple points out, that the systemic corruption causes people no longer

to believe very deeply in the majesty of the law or the legitimacy of the British State; and this disillusion in turn must lead to a kind of resentful apathy.

Hitchens appreciates, says Dalrymple, that such a state of mind

will be highly receptive to authoritarianism: for order will come to be valued over freedom. As the author points out, this is useful to many politicians and it explains why the rigorous enforcement of the law is so essential to liberty.

The spike: destination of Hitchens’s two most recent columns for the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday

The spike: destination of Hitchens’s most recent articles for the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday

Dalrymple writes that in A Brief History of Crime,

Mr Hitchens traces the descent of Britain, in only a few decades, from being one of the best-ordered societies in the western world to being among the worst-ordered.

Hitchens places the blame, explains Dalrymple,

firmly where it belongs: on a supine and pusillanimous political establishment that, for four decades at least, has constantly retreated before the verbal onslaught of liberal intellectuals whose weapons have been mockery allied to sentimental guilt about their prosperous and comfortable lives, and whose aim has been to liberate themselves from personally irksome moral constraints, without regard to the consequences for those less favourably placed in society than themselves.

How Hitchens became an unperson at the Mail on Sunday, as reported by the magazine Private Eye

How Hitchens became an unperson at the Mail on Sunday, as reported by the magazine Private Eye

Dalrymple says that Hitchens’s outrage at the compromising and besmirching of British traditions, values and liberties is palpably

of the genuine and generous variety that comes from a real understanding of the conditions which millions of people now endure — unlike the simulated and self-regarding outrage that is common among liberal reformers.

Examining the way in which British peace and order have gradually disappeared,

Mr Hitchens in every case finds the self-satisfaction of people such as Roy Jenkins, who introduced lenient treatment for criminals without ever having personally to face the social consequences.

Dalrymple thinks Hitchens

Not so optimistic any more: Hitchens discusses the election result on his blog

Not so optimistic now: Hitchens discusses the election result on his blog

is too optimistic about the prospect of the nation coming to its senses: the march of ‘progressive’ sociology through the institutions has been so thorough that there is no constituency left which could preserve the kind of traditional limited polity that he believes Britain once was and which he would like to see restored.

Judging from Hitchens’s pronouncements on his blog and on Twitter since the election, he is no longer nearly as optimistic as he was when he wrote A Brief History of Crime, which Dalrymple commends as

a lucid polemic by a man who is so obviously more interested in the welfare of the common man than in the approbation of his peers.

Hitchens in the People's Republic of the Rothermeres: now you see him, now you don't

Now you read him, now you don’t

 

Hitchens as he was: the conceited Marxist participant in cheap middle-class protest

Hitchens as he was: the conceited Marxist, active in cheap middle-class protest. He gave up the Leninist claptrap along with the donkey-jacket many years ago

Le vice anglais

Vote Conservative

Vicious Tory (right)

The secret vice of voting Conservative

Dalrymple writes that people are reluctant to admit to third parties that they are going to vote for Britain’s Conservative party, because to do so is to admit to

a secret vice

or to being

actuated only by the most selfish motives.

The reluctance

is an indication of how far the Left has won the battle for the hearts and minds of at least a large section of the population, who do not believe that there can be any respectable arguments for conservatism. Not, of course, that the British Conservatives are genuinely conservative.