For the past 5 years the Bow Group has been campaigning against the third way movement, and for a return to principled, conviction politics. One should always be careful what one wishes for, and in Jeremy Corbyn a conviction politician has arrived to lead one of Britain’s major parties. Corbyn’s election grants the Conservative Party a great opportunity, but also an existential threat. For those politicians and commentators more preoccupied with position, power and psephology the strong temptation will be to further mimic Blairite tactics of centrism, and move to the left to envelope Labour’s moderate wing. Doing so is probably the safest bet towards short-term electoral victory, moreover there is little doubt that unshackled from the pressure of polls, the Prime Minister is more comfortable on the liberal left of the political spectrum.
Lord Tebbit spoke to the Bow Group last year and warned that constantly chasing the centre ground without a clear ideology is where political accidents happen, he was no doubt channelling his old boss, Margaret Thatcher, who left the advice to the Conservative Party “You don’t move to the centre, you move the centre to you”. Jeremy Corbyn will focus on his base, despite the polls not affording him that luxury, but the Conservatives do have that luxury.
If Conservatives want to place clear blue water between this Parliamentary term and the coalition years and truly reverse the errors of 13 years of Labour government, they have to hold the Prime Minister to account and ensure that they drag the Conservative Party to the right, rather than allowing Corbyn to drag our politics further to the left.
If conservatives shy from this challenge the Conservative Party will depart from its history to the extent that it will become necessary to change its name (an idea now supported by the Deputy Chairman) to avoid absurdity in juxtaposition. More jarring is that centrist politics have removed ideology and vision from the discourse, leaving little more than managed decline.
The burst bubble of the economic system has been carefully restitched and re-inflated, but not repaired. Despite the achievements of the last 5 years, with the national debt doubled the next recession will likely be worse than the last, Britain continues to gently slip down the world order and our culture and traditions have never been more under threat. Only radical conservatism can go beyond just marking time, and put Great Britain and its culture back together.
In the minds of the public, modern politics has become a billboard advert against humanity, and the first step towards rebuilding trust and a conservative Britain should be to truly pursue localism and direct democracy.
We will continue to argue for democratic reform of the electoral system, the party system, and to push most government powers out to local level, but the European Union is the first and largest barrier to that process, and so this edition of Crossbow Magazine announces that the Bow Group will be joining many other conservatives from all parties and none in campaigning to leave the EU. Come what may, the Bow Group will remain the home of conservatism, and to borrow a lyric from comrade Corbyn; though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the blue flag flying here.
Bow Group Chairman