What just happened, and what happens now?

Democracy
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Ben Harris-Quinney

At what point do shock election results become expected? The past 12 months has seen a raft of unexpected results, all apparently beyond prediction.

One analysis that would have predicted them all however is the view, in the UK and US at least, that the politics of third way centrism coined by Blair and Clinton are over.

The political class, naturally not wanting to read the writing etched deep into the wall, will continue to try and resist this reality, and will continue to be surprised that lack of vision will be punished by the most unusual of foes.

They are now desperately scrambling to re-write history, they cry: "May lost because she backed Brexit and was too right wing". When May was perceived to be championing of some conservative values and Brexit, her poll rating was actually sky high. As the electoral timeline demonstrates, it was the launch of the disastrous manifesto which torpedoed the core Tory vote that sent May's campaign into a tailspin.

This election campaign was a product of the Conservative Party's hollowing out and the growing disdain for its members and voters by its leadership that began when Cameron took the reins in 2005.

Since that time, the Conservative Party has been run by people who aren't conservatives, and see conservative thinking as beyond the pale, even downright dangerous. After all, it’s that kind of thinking that leads to things like Brexit and three terms of Margaret Thatcher, which tends to put the Notting Hill chaps out of a job.

The last decade has therefore seen Conservative Party membership, once the largest in the world, shrink to one sixth of that of the Labour Party, and those politicians and advisors of robust conservative views pushed to the margin. It was only the poll explosion of UKIP in 2013 after Cameron's same sex marriage adventure that frightened the top bods into an EU referendum.

Their initial solution to this problem was to lure students who wanted to be MPs one day into being bussed around the country to areas where no Conservative activists were left to deliver leaflets and give the appearance of genuine support. It failed to predict that most people don't want a 19 year old from London knocking on the door and telling them what to do, and in its unorthodox approach lead to two of the biggest calamities in British political history; the Tatler Tory and election expenses scandals.

Rather than address the real causes of these issues, Conservative Party central office (CCHQ) decided to commission a two million pound inquiry that they refused to let anyone read and blamed the whole thing on a few henchman.

In the meantime, then presumed hapless communist Jeremy Corbyn started to remind people that the Labour Party actually used to stand for something, and began to build a genuine grassroots movement of support. Whilst he has been derided by the mainstream media, and would undoubtedly destroy the economy, he instils genuine passion. For the first time in memory this election saw shy Labour voters, those who told pollsters they weren't voting for Corbyn, and then obviously did.

I gave a speech at the London School of Economics after Trump's victory, where I explained that is was only a coincidence that public anger and disdain for centrism had seen the right benefit in Britain and America. It will be just as easy for the left to benefit, and what Corbyn and Sanders in the US are doing is inspiring millions of young people to support socialism. I therefore see it as nearly inevitable that a socialist government will be elected in the UK and US at some time in the next decade.

Conservatives cannot fight that movement from the centre, as in the 1970s, it can only be defeated from the right.

May and the Conservative leadership will try to do what they always do, sack a few staff members as scapegoats and hope to carry on more or less business as usual. That route will see the same disastrous ends as it did for the Conservative Party under Edward Heath however.

In recent years, in consultation with other conservative organisations and grassroots members, the Bow Group has developed a plan to foster freedom and democracy in the Conservative Party, and rebuild its membership base and ideology.

It has hitherto been ignored, but if it continues to be ignored the Conservative Party will lose the next general election and Britain will fall to socialism.

We argue that the Conservative Party rules must change to have a leadership election before the membership at least every five years, to elect a new chairman every year and to allow members freedom to select candidates and contribute to policy. It is from the bottom up that all great political movements begin, and in order to reinvigorate itself and regain the momentum, the Conservative Party needs nothing short of a grassroots revolution.