Conservatism is doomed. Head for the hills

So a perfect night for Labour – victories for pretty much every candidate except Ken Livingstone (probably), whom party MPs and activists have hardly been falling over themselves to endorse in recent weeks.

And so the tragi-comic King Ralph-like scenario of Ed Miliband actually becoming the heir to Palmerston and Salisbury is now, bizarrely, closer, unless the Government can pull off a serious economic miracle before 2015 (and assuming the faeces-gun that is the hacking scandal does not land a direct hit on the Prime Minister).

For someone universally seen as a clot, Miliband is doing extremely well at the thing that really matters for a politician; except for Bradford, where the Respect Party continues to make gains, Labour have had a superb night, helped by significant numbers of Tories drifting towards Ukip and even larger numbers staying at home.

Clearly, enough small-c conservatives feel disenchanted with the government to such an extent that they are willing to put Labour in power to punish them, for that is the certain outcome of the Right splitting. Ukip can either merge with the Tories, or supplant them, and the latter is fairly unlikely without any grass roots, so fundamentally important to a party but perhaps more so to a party which, by its very nature, is at risk of being colonised by oddballs. To be fair to Ukip, they are very vigilant about extremists, and Baroness Warsi’s comments were pretty crass, as well as mathematically interesting. (The Ukip spokesman who called her a rather rude word has an Asian wife and mixed-race daughter, so it’s understandable why he might resent the comparison with a party that believes in the separation of races).

Being a pessimist by nature, I’m not sure it’s simply a matter of the Conservatives becoming more conservative; certainly their interest in things like gay marriage look like middle-class problems when people are desperately worried about their jobs and homes, and on crime, immigration and Europe the public are more Right-wing than any major party by some distance, but the British public are small-c conservative in the same way they are Christian – in theory but not in practise.

In fact among the under-30s or even under-40s people have been detached from conservative ideas in almost the same way as they have from religion. Bear in mind that for 40 years the 93 per cent of people who were educated in the state sector have been, effectively, indoctrinated by the Left’s ideas. For two generations and more people have grown used to the idea that most things are the state’s responsibility, and once this is established it becomes very hard to reverse, especially as so many people are on the state’s payroll (and people come to forget that lots of things could be done without the state. As E G West noted, literacy levels were very high before the Education Act – that is something that would just never be taught in a state school).

Added to this, as Jonathan Haidt recently put it, liberalism has had a total moral monopoly in the intellectual sphere for decades, which is why the Conservative Party finally decided that the only way it could win was to abandon conservatism in the same that New Labour abandoned socialism.

I believe that was deeply flawed and morally wrong, because if the Conservative Party does not follow the vision of Edmund Burke then it is nothing. But I’m not entirely sure that a truly conservative party could be a serious force right now.

I say right now because in the long term conservatism always wins; socialist countries run out of money and liberal societies run out of people. I suppose the best hope is that, thanks to Michael Gove’s reforms (although initially started by Lord Adonis) the next generation receive a better education than mine did, and are therefore more receptive to the nuanced, paradox-heavy arguments behind conservatism. Until then we may as well just all hibernate for a few decades.

This article was published at Telegraph Blogs

What do you think?