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Friday 28 September 2012

Cruddas Discovers The New Conservatism

We’ve already encountered that clutch of right-leaning groups that generally call themselves “think tanks” or even profess “grassroots support”: the ASI, IEA, CPS, and of course our old friends at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) are some of them. In addition one cannot forget Policy Exchange, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) whose foundation is built on not having any policy.

There is also the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) which trains conservative – note not necessarily Tory – activists, and bodies like the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), which has recently been hijacked by the ideological right. All promote the idea of cutting back the state under the guise of lowering taxes as some kind of “fairness”, while some promote a hawkish hard-right foreign policy approach.

Taken together, these are pieces in the jigsaw of The New Conservatism, which holds, more or less, that to be more conservative – rather as the Tea Partiers in the USA – is the way to go, and that if only the electorate were not blinded by the rotten leftie media, they would sign up in droves. This drives the anti-state stance of groups like the TPA, which relentlessly churns out knocking copy demonising Government.

None of this will be significantly new news to Zelo Street regulars, and slowly but surely the discovery of this strain of Conservatism is reaching those in its line of fire, as Labour MP Jon Cruddas has indicated in a piece for the deeply subversive Guardian yesterday. He has homed in on a tract authored by five Tory MPs called Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons For Growth And Prosperity.

The five are Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Chris Skidmore, and the self-promoting Priti Patel. But the ideas contained in this tract are not their original thought: we have seen them all before, especially from the TPA. Cruddas correctly deduces that the state-slashing agenda is part of “a destructive economic liberalism that threatens the foundations of modern conservatism”.

Got it in one: like the lurch to the right by Republicans in the USA, this strain of New Conservatism will ultimately poison the party within which it is taking root. And the ideal worker in this ideology – “one prepared to work long hours, commute long distances and expect no employment protection and low pay” – won’t gain any support among the hard working taxpayers they claim to champion.

Yet here are elected Parliamentarians willing to join the chorus of demonisation against safety nets, or indeed any form of welfare in which the state participates. This is the advance guard of the New Conservatism: it has little grassroots support, but its talking heads know how to get into the papers and onto the TV. It needs to be identified and countered, and fortunately the Labour Party is waking up to the threat.

My congratulations to Jon Cruddas. Good to have you on board!

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