National Conservatism

(A bit of a rant!)

In the far off days of Jeremy Corbyn (remember him?) we had a huge group of devoted, environmentally-aware supporters of Corbynism called ‘Momentum’. They obviously thought that if they all cycled fast enough, their momentum would carry them over the finishing line ahead of everyone-else. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead we had a Johnson super-majority (followed by his downfall for lying) and Jeremy himself now in the naughty corner as he struggles to understand the concept of antisemitism.

Of course the European Research Group was at the forefront of making sure that Brexit was brought over a rather different finishing line – the one labelled ‘Hard-Brexit’. And they succeeded, only to see themselves as a group gradually waning in political influence when the rest of us carried on asking them to explain how we would benefit from it all. And answer came there none.

But not to worry, when one pressure group wanes, another waxes. And so at the beginning of this week we had the National Conservative conference. No, me neither. But it has been portrayed in a tweet by Mr Gove, one of its participants, as a ‘center’ right movement. That slip in the spelling could be because the conference was promoted and partly funded by an American religious (very) right-wing organisation.

It seems that National Conservatism is, as the name implies, a nationalist variant of conservatism that concentrates on upholding national and cultural identity. National conservatives combine nationalism with conservative stances promoting traditional cultural values, family values, and, importantly, opposition to immigration. To see it as a precursor to Brexit is not difficult, and to see it as an attempt to justify the appalling mess created by Brexit is only too easy.

The promotional video for the conference tells us, over images of Elizabeth II (not Charles III) and a military parade, that “Conservatives around the world look to Britain as an inspiration”. But then comes a major change in mood. A policeman takes the knee. Union flags on Regent Street in London vanish to be replaced by LGBTQ rainbows. The voice-over says: “It’s as if we’ve forgotten what we really believe, and what the public voted for in the Brexit referendum”. Apparently we voted for all sorts of ideas which the Brexiteers now, rather late in the day, tell us were what Brexit actually meant.

The publicity suggests that this is a British conference for British Conservatives. It is designed to promote British nationalism and British values. But the National Conservatism website has wider agenda. Videos promote the neo-fascist Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, and the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the one trying to out-Trump Trump in order to be the next Republican presidential candidate, alongside religious right-wing American books such as ‘The Case for Christian Nationalism’ and the misogynist ‘No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men’.

Speakers at the conference included Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Danny Kruger MP gave a speech in favour of the ‘normative family’ - a mealy-mouthed way of saying (male) husband, (female) wife + children with no nonsense about gay relationships coming into it. He blames attacks on that 'traditional' form of family for society’s woes. Although quite how it caused the cost of living crisis is not immediately obvious. Altogether, it gives the impression of being a Conservative religious revolt against the government in power for the past 13 years.

Another of the speakers was Melanie Phillips. She is a columnist for the Times. I normally wear protective clothing when reading her considered thoughts as they drip with venom against all things to her left – and that covers a lot of ground. She started off as a Guardian columnist, but had a Damascene conversion with her realisation that she should be opposing that newspaper’s entire ethos. And she has the zeal of the convert, espousing climate-change denial, opposition to the MMR vaccination and support of Trump. She says that "the traditional family has been relentlessly attacked by an alliance of feminists, gay rights activists, divorce lawyers and 'cultural Marxists' who grasped that this was the surest way to destroy Western society.”

In this week’s column she shouted at the BBC for categorising National Conservatism as right-wing, rather than an attempt to promote the national good. In that day’s edition of the Times itself, reporters also referred to National Conservatism as right-wing, but that minor fact seemed to have been overlooked in favour of bashing that dreadful left-wing institution, the BBC. 

I mention this to illustrate the political mess that we seem to be in. We have a weak prime minister whose intentions may be good, but who is not really capable of controlling the loony fringes of his party. We also have a number of second-generation immigrants in positions of power or at least influence. And, having described Melanie Phillips as having the zeal of the convert, perhaps I can also suggest that these second-generation immigrants are displaying a similar attitude.

We have the strange sight of such people insisting that immigration must be strictly limited and that immigrants should be required to learn to speak English, integrate into British society and adopt British customs and ways of life. No doubt just like their parents. No more dilution of our national character by multiculturalism.

As I have said before, I well remember the earlier days of immigration. We lived 100 yards from where the Marshall Street ‘riots’ took place – actually a minor protest against the effect on house prices of immigrants buying up houses there. But Smethwick was also where Peter Griffiths was elected as a Conservative MP, helped by a rhyming local slogan (which he didn’t do much to distance himself from): “If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour”.

All this at a time when Enoch Powell was prophesying from his constituency in Wolverhampton that immigration would bring forth “Rivers of blood”.

But now, the large pub about half a mile away, the ‘Spon Croft’, is a Buddhist temple. In the centre of Smethwick, a large former Congregational Church has been replaced by a huge Sikh temple. English is not the language you will hear most on the High Street.

So then I’m not at all sure what our National Conservative politicians are suggesting. Do they accept that the changed landscape is British or do they think we should somehow turn back the clock?

To add to all of this, we now have competing views as to why politicians cannot achieve what they tell us they want to do. For socialists, for a long time, the fault apparently lay with Bill Gates, investment bankers, capitalists generally and the ‘deep state’ – to which we can add Zionist multi-dimensional lizards if desired.

Now, however, the person who thought we’d had enough of experts has created a similar fiction for the right: it is the ‘Blob’ which is preventing action. ‘The Blob’ was a 1950’s science fiction film. It was a large, jelly-like creature that landed from space, consuming everything in its path: with every person or town it consumed, the Blob would grow. But now we have the modern-day Blob which is institutional resistance to reform.

It is obvious from the results of many inquiries into public bodies that institutions and groups do have cultures and tenaciously-held positions that are resistant to change. And so it is wrong to argue that there is no such thing as “institutional racism”. Neither can we accept Margaret Thatcher's rather stupid assertion that there was no such thing as society, only individuals and their families.

But we have now arrived at complete insanity, with “the Blob” everywhere to be found in Conservative argument, consuming everything in its path.

The continual failure in so many countries to achieve a beneficial society through real (Marxist) socialism has always been blamed on the resistance of the establishment, rather than socialism’s own obvious flaws. But now this sort of thinking features strongly on the right. It is the civil service and lawyers and “activists”, tofu eaters, the EU and people with degrees and people who live in cities and also us (according to the National Conservative conference debate), because immigration is a substitute for our not having enough children.

There’s no point in saying that the Tories, being in power, should have solved any of our problems. The Tories aren’t in power. The Blob is. And so the home secretary can keep a straight face while make speeches criticising the lack of achievement of the home secretary. The Blob has of course stopped the prevention of illegal migration in small boats; the Blob did for Dominic Raab; the Blob forced Kemi Badenoch to change course on retained EU legislation.

It has become an all-purpose conspiracy theory in which vague and sinister forces are acting together to frustrate the brave attempts at reform by Tory ministers. Just as “real socialism” has never been tried because the bourgeoisie prevent it, so “real Brexit” hasn’t been tried because it has been stopped by the Blob.

In this way, true Brexit remains always just over the horizon, requiring one more heave. But the Blob will always be there before you. So no failure can ever be your fault. Ideal.

17 May 2023

Paul Buckingham

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