Is there an alternative to Boris?

Liz Truss Capitalism

The incomparable Jewish-American comedian Jackie Mason once commended Nixon over Watergate. He told lies but at least he sweated when he told them. The man had a conscience. But no sweat for Boris and his friends. Is it narcissism, Eton entitlement syndrome, or megalopsychia – the classical belief that one is a higher order ‘great souled man’? Whatever it is, the upshot is the belief that normal rules, decencies and values do not apply to oneself or one’s caste. That is what sticks in people’s craw. The contrast between our supremely dutiful Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral service, and tanked-up revellers at Number 10 the very same day, fills most of us with disgust. 

Is there any alternative to Boris? The mainstream conservative press is veering toward the view that since Boris’s persona now repels more than it appeals, he is now a liability to the party. But Boris or no Boris, they argue that if the Conservatives are to stand any chance of winning the next election, they need to adopt some conservative policies – in other words, cut taxes and cut spending. The Telegraph and the Spectator talk of little else.

Liz Truss, the rising star of the party and current favourite to succeed Boris spoke of little else at a ‘rising stars’ event I attended just before the last election. Her hero was Margaret Thatcher, and her ambition was to create a low tax enterprise economy in which the entrepreneurial spirit would flourish. That was her philosophy – nothing else.

That’s fine, except that Truss assumes that the rest of us are ambitious entrepreneurs, go-getters, and supercharged risk-takers like herself, fired up by the competitive instinct and the desire to reach the top. Whereas most of us prefer stability and security to risk, privacy to the public arena, a quiet life to fame and fortune. Never mind the enterprise economy, casino capitalism, zero-hour contracts, and asset stripping private equity firms. We just want a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. Our rewards are home, family, friends, holidays, and leisure time to pursue our interests. 

Libertarians and classical liberals, like Hayek, consider any move away from laissez-faire as the first step on the slippery road to a collectivist state, and totalitarianism. Richard Cobden, the nineteenth-century liberal and free trade evangelist, considered global markets to be a moral imperative. But in the post-war period, the most successful economies, judged by productivity and by overall quality of life, have been those which have operated ‘social market’ economies, with considerable elements of state intervention or corporatism to ensure long-term investment and stability in the private sector, along with extensive public services.  Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, South Korea, and even Singapore have all done this. Private affluence has served the public good, and that requires a strong state which intervenes when needed.  

But when the late Roger Scruton, our greatest modern-day conservative philosopher, wrote ‘there is no logical identity between conservatism and capitalism’ (incomprehensible to the likes of Truss and modern-day Thatcherite Conservatives), he was alluding to a more profound truth about the great tradition of Burke, Tocqueville, and Disraeli. Which is that society can never be reduced, as liberals imagine, to a collection of atomistic individuals pursuing their happiness, guided by the ‘invisible hand’. Of course, we are individuals and desire the freedom to exercise our preferences. But we are also social beings – culturally, morally, linguistically. We are born into a society. And civilized life (including our personal liberties) is only possible because of the complex network of customs, traditions, attachments, local loyalties, laws, property rights, obligations, hierarchies, and sources of authority that have evolved, and continue to evolve, to give society its form. 

The problem is that when global markets call the tune, and capital and labour move freely across open borders to ensure costs are minimised and profits are maximised, the complex fabric of society is destroyed – families, communities, the nation itself. Politics and government are conducted in managerial systems speak, with all human endeavour reduced to a process of minimising inputs, maximising outputs, and delivering on performance targets. When Truss called earlier this year for Britain to be a ‘global hub for trade and investment’, and ‘open to the best and brightest’, she meant open borders, free movement, and cheap labour.

The tragedy for true conservatives – for Tories and for social conservatives, whether ‘Blue Labour’ or ‘Red Tory’ – is that there is no longer any mainstream political party to represent them. They may get lower taxes under the Conservatives if Boris goes, but the project of cultural deconstruction, with statue smashers in the vanguard, will continue apace, given perverse impetus by global markets, open borders, mass immigration, cheap labour, the cult of untrammelled individual freedom, and an official orthodoxy of multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity. The alliance between neo-liberals, liberals and the post-Marxist New Left is uncanny as it is unholy.   

Does the future lie with the radical centre? The manifestos of both the English Democrats and the SDP are infinitely more socially conservative, and potentially appealing to the mass of our compatriots, than the vacuous global markets visions of the modern-day Conservative Party. Yet there is no sign of an electoral breakthrough.

Any ideas?

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9 Comments on Is there an alternative to Boris?

  1. Former Minister for Women & Equalities, a Labour creation, Truss has stated stamping out “antisemitism” as a major imperative (see e.g. Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2021; CFI, 14 October 2021; Ian Austin, The Jewish Chronicle, 24 September 2021). So she will have the support of a group who notably helped Thatcher, Blair, Cameron and Starmer on their political journey; Priti Patel would become her Foreign Secretary. Watch this space.

    • Roger Scruton was also accused of “racist” comments; ditto, Ray Honeyford, Neill Ferguson, Enoch Powell, Winston Churchill, Ernest Bevin, Charles Murray, Richard Lynn, Douglas Murray, John Vincent, James Watson, Vincent Sarich, Jeremy Corbyn, Nicholas Wade, Eric Kaufmann, William McDougall, Enid Blyton, Dinesh D’Souza, Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, Carleton Coon, John Glad, Patrick Buchanan, Taki Theodoracopoulos, Jan Smuts, Michael Levin, Linda Gottfredson, Noah Carl, Abraham Lincoln, Marcus Garvey, Alfred Sherman, Jim Goad, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, William Shakespeare, Rod Liddle, D H Lawrence, Mircea Eliade, Heiner Rindermann, Ibn Khaldun, Han Sorya, Taku Komai, Philip Larkin, Melanie Phillips, Che Guevara, Benjamin Disraeli, Karl Pearson, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Queen Mother, Edgar Wallace, Muhammad Ali, Wang Yuejun, Arthur Jensen, Friedrich Engels, Teilhard de Chardin, Mark Twain, Albert Schweitzer, John Baker, Carl Jung….a lot of ’em about.
      But “Tolerance cannot be indiscriminate…” [Herbert Marcuse] and “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean…The question is who is to be master” [Humpty Dumpty].

  2. The Manifesto of the Social Democrats (SDP?)makes sense to me, but has gained little traction from either Party. The very title Conservative Party wakens many negative responses among the young.

    • Yes, the SDP site has an impressively wide and thoughtful range of political articles (I think). They are firm on free speech – no ifs and no buts. They are also opposed to mass immigration. But they steer clear of discussing ‘multiculturalism’, no doubt for fear of being branded racist or populist. The English Democrats do broach multiculturalism. But as you say, neither party makes any headway in elections.
      I wonder if part of the problem lies in the names. ‘SDP’ means little to younger voters, but to older voters it means ‘Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams’, basically woke liberals. Any party with ‘English’ in its title that speaks of the Cross of St George is immediately tarred with the racist/extremist/National Front brush. This should not be, but that is how it is.

  3. Is there an alternative to ignorance?

    True, globalization of markets in finance, labour, and the supply of construction materials, energy, food, and pharmaceuticals, brings on many negatives for certain groups of people.

    And almost all of these same people also live lives of low-cost consumption (in the developed world) and/or have the unusual benefit of actual disposable income (in the less developed world) because of this globalisation in supply and demand.

    Now, halting the globalisation of supply of goods and services has some similarities with the “renewable-green” energy fantasy. If the renewables/green fantasy goes ahead, then 50% or more of the world’s population will certainly have less to eat less each day, and will have to bear the cold of Winter and heat of Summer without artificial heating/cooling.

    It’s rather ditto if global sourcing of finance, food, energy, etc is halted.

    Now, which 50% of the world’s population will have to deal with these new conditions? And who will decide?

    See, there are certain practicalities of human existence which politicians and State admin officers must deal with -that few bloggers, pundits, do-gooders, and civilian/ignorant opinion-expressors do not.

  4. Reading this item, one is reminded of a certain curate’s egg.

    One also is moved to suggest that the author make efforts to acquaint himself with the reality of the various economic, technical, and hardware factors that have been holding in place the pleasant and pleasing conditions of life that most people, of all colours and creeds, now expect as normal, and hold as desirable.

    And to inform himself of the mechanisms and structures that have enabled this regime of low-cost/low-effort consumption and medication/healthcare enjoyed by low and non-producing denizens of the world, West and East, but esp the Anglosphere, over these recent decades.

    And to consider the imminent negative consequences for the unearned and easy life-of-consumption without few/no responsibilities, when these mechanisms and structures dissolve, as they now rapidly are.

    Naive idealism -eg, let us all live happy, peaceful abundant lives without the need for war or much work or personal responsibility to produce in line with one’s consumption, in a context of total freedom- is a terrible and destructive creed to live by.

    As we see.

  5. All small-c conservatives move so that they form majorities in chosen constituencies. A case of hanging together in order to avoid hanging separately.