Making plans without Nigel
Will the Tory party face a Canadian-style extinction event?
‘We haven’t regained our political sovereignty from the European Union only to surrender our cultural sovereignty to the United States of America.’
Those words, by James Orr in the closing speech of last month’s National Conservatism conference in London, struck me as a perfect encapsulation of where British conservative politics is heading in the coming years.
The conference took place in an atmosphere of increasing despair about the direction of the country but also anger towards the Conservative Party, even a Freudian desire to kill it. Now, with the resignation of Boris Johnson and some of his allies, that extinction comes just a bit closer.
Boris secured the greatest Tory election win in a generation but his political life was a monumental failure. Although focussed on Brexit and distracted by Covid, his party have completely failed to reshape the country in their image. Matt Goodwin’s barnstormer of a speech voiced what many feel about these wasted years, and for some of them the question is no longer how to reform the party but what replaces it.
The lesson of the Ukip years is that only the presence of a threat on the Right will ever stop the Conservative leadership from following their instinctive preferred course, mixing vaguely Right-wing economics (although the dependency ratio is too far gone to ever return us to the small state of the past) and the liberal social policies they either believe in, or are prepared to go along with to get invited to dinner parties.