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The gravediggers of British conservatism The Tories have been overtaken by history

Lay it to rest. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Lay it to rest. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)


March 22, 2024   6 mins

For the 20th-century Greek philosopher Panagiotis Kondylis, conservatism was a purely historical phenomenon. A Marxist from a distinguished military family, he was lauded as “one of the great conservative thinkers of our age” by the paleo-conservative, Paul Gottfried. Kondylis came to the conclusion that conservatism is not, as its adherents claim, an eternal intellectual or moral tendency, but a specific phase like the Reformation or the Enlightenment, representing the unsuccessful defence of the power of the landed aristocracy against the rising challenge of bourgeois industrialists. 

As such, Kondylis wrote, it was already dead: for “outside this social and intellectual historical framework, conservatism can only be referred to metaphorically or with polemical or apologetic intent”, or indeed as “the epitaph of a process that has already (essentially) run its course”. With the 19th-century victory of bourgeois liberalism — and its replacement, in turn, by “mass democracy”, of which both fascism and Soviet Communism were extremist sub-categories — conservatism was left a meaningless husk, a rhetorical flourish to distinguish one form of liberalism from its electoral rivals through the mere narcissism of small differences. 

Kondylis died in 1998, and therefore only partly witnessed the total intellectual collapse of Britain’s Conservative Party as a vehicle for Right-wing politics. Yet had he survived to observe the last flailing days of Europe’s oldest political party, still squatting in office to no discernible purpose, even he would surely have been shocked at the vacuousness and self-defeating liberalism of the faction which in Britain bears conservatism’s name. We can only hope that the party’s coming crushing electoral defeat will herald not only its ejection from power but its total dissolution: for even at the modest task which Kondylis assigns conservatism, the temporary preservation of yesterday’s liberalism, the Tories are abject failures.

Last week’s redefinition of political extremism by Michael Gove, the party’s sole intellectual and most competent administrator, is a case in point. While the 2011 definition brought in by Cameron’s government was unnecessary and objectionable in itself, its notional appeal to “fundamental British values” could at least have served conservative ends if applied by a competent Right-wing government. Yet Gove’s redefinition strips out even that one marginal good, declaring that extremism is “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance”.

Leaving aside the question of political violence, which the law already adequately proscribes, it is not difficult to foresee how the technocratic liberal managerialism of the coming Starmer administration will interpret its vague definition of “intolerance”, defined as “creating a permissive environment” to “negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”. Like the 2011 Prevent definition, its 2024 replacement is a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived Islamist threat that, through moral cowardice at defining its opponent clearly, will instead disproportionately fall upon the political Right. That the liberal Left’s initial reactions to Gove’s tinkering centred on whether the party’s donors could be defined as extremists, or whether Gove’s chosen reading material defined him as one himself, highlights the inevitable direction of travel. 

In an attempt to make short-lived political capital at the disquiet over recent pro-Palestine protests, Gove has created a powerful weapon against the Right. Just as Blair’s Human Rights Act enshrined progressivism into the state’s essence, the new definition will shrink conservatism’s space for querying or opposing the most sweeping progressive innovations. It is of a piece with the Online Safety Act, a hurried piece of legislation brought in as a response to a Conservative MP’s murder by a jihadist, which instead functions as a muzzle on “harmful” Right-wing discourse. None of the alleged “culture war” dividing lines on which the Conservatives have rhetorically sought to distinguish themselves from Labour — on mass immigration, the ECHR, gender politics or progressive activist judges and civil servants — will survive the expansive interpretations of “the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” that will surely follow. If the Conservative Party is to be judged on its actions, and not on its rhetoric, it is not a vehicle for the implementation of Right-wing politics but for its suppression. In its last days in the Westminster bunker, the Conservative Party has chosen suicide as its final act.

My concerns here are motivated by self-interest: like the majority of the country, I do not believe that Parliament is a well-functioning system responsive to the electorate’s desires. Through my “intent to undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy” with something functional I am, by Gove’s definition, a political extremist. The same could no doubt be said of Scottish, Welsh and Irish separatists (though Labour will hardly apply this new definition to them), advocates of proportional representation, Swiss-style direct democracy, or of any future Right-wing reformist analogue to Blair’s constitutional experimentation. 

It is no wonder that, after a generation of Conservative Party rule, 46% of British adults now support “a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with parliamentary elections”, a figure which rises to 65% of those aged 18-35. By Gove’s definition, the majority of the electorate will soon be composed of extremists: this widening gulf between the governing and the governed is not a recipe for political stability.

But until then, to shore up its fragile legitimacy, the British political system has a greater need for extremists than British politics can supply. The recent Hope Not Hate report on political extremism highlights the problem: listed alongside its catalogue of neo-Nazis and Ulster Loyalist paramilitaries are such inoffensive conservatives as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates, ascribed to a nebulous “radical Right”, along with the Telegraph and Spectator, for advocating, among other things, halving Britain’s current rate of immigration. Yet under the Conservative Party, immigration soared to unprecedented levels: halving last year’s influx would still mean an immigration rate two and a half times the rate under New Labour, which was itself seen at the time as a reckless and destabilising experiment. Even the radical progressivism of the Nineties is now beyond the pale of acceptable politics.

By any reasonable analysis this is absurd thinking, but this is the narrow and destructive path into which British political discourse is increasingly channelled. In Britain, almost uniquely in Western democracies, the space available for political reform is shrinking. The failure of the populism of the 2010s, both on the Left and Right, lay in its belief that the political system actually could be reformed. Yet rather than a threat to democracy, as technocratic centrists claimed, British political populism was undone by its touching faith in its existence. Twice in the past decade, through both the original Brexit vote and the 2019 vote to actually implement it, the British people have voted for total change: twice the British political system closed ranks to prevent reform. Brexit voters, a narrow majority of the country, were characterised as either extremists or the unwitting dupes of a Russian plot, as a wave of conspiratorial fantasising overtook the country’s political establishment. 

There is little hope to be placed in the incoming Starmer government: the problems facing Britain, both economic and political, are structural, and beyond the capacity of Labour’s underwhelming front bench to address. If we were to zoom out and view our current predicament with the grand-historical scale of a Kondylis, the contours of the situation become clear. During the Nineties, through a combination of misguided intellectual fashions and vague Boomer idealism, the belief took hold across the elites of Western societies that the unfettered movement of goods, money and people across national borders would herald a new era of cosmopolitan prosperity and social harmony. Eventually, reality intervened: as with other Western societies, only more so, Britain is now poorer, unhappier and less harmonious as a result. Yet the mental maps of Britain’s political class are still those of Nineties Britain. With no existing conservatism to temper their political innovations, liberals have brought about a world that threatens to eat them whole. 

“The mental maps of Britain’s political class are still those of Nineties Britain.”

To the horror of our political class, trapped in their Nineties reveries, George Galloway’s recent election victory reveals the actually existing Britain of the 2020s. A more or less open opportunist, who rides the dissatisfaction of Britain’s most solidly Muslim constituencies with Western foreign policy as his vehicle to power, Galloway’s understanding of Britain’s new political faultlines cannot be faulted: he is a realist, who navigates the country as it now is. If anything, Galloway’s open contempt for Westminster’s pieties more accurately reflects the opinion of the average voter than anything else in British political discourse. Yet the electoral Right flounders in a country it no longer understands. Lee Anderson’s defection to the Reform Party after accusing Sadiq Khan of being an Islamist highlights their outdated mental maps; Khan is not an Islamist, but instead a generic progressive, a cookie-cutter Twitter-brained liberal whose power rests on London’s transformed demographics, an optimistic globaliser of a kind that already looks outdated.

For if Britain’s politicians have locked themselves away in an eternal Nineties, the wider world has moved on. The world of the 2020s is an unstable, threatening place, sliding towards global war. Locked in political stasis, unable to reform itself or correct its drift, the British state will meet the coming storm in a dangerously brittle fashion. Britain’s economy is stagnant, its populace is restive and disenchanted, and its underequipped armed forces and non-existent industrial base poorly match the hawkishness of its foreign policy. 

It is an increasingly common trope to compare the ramshackle British state — “Ukania” in the Scottish nationalist Tom Nairn’s formulation — with the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in its dotage. This is a more flattering comparison than Britain deserves: in 1914, Austria-Hungary was a major power, and a military, industrial and scientific powerhouse far beyond the wildest imaginings of 2020s Britain.

It was only in retrospect that the Habsburg state’s collapse came to seem inevitable: the likelihood of 2020s Britain emerging from a new era of great power conflict as a stable, victorious unitary state is surely far lower. Like the barbarians in Cavafy’s famous poem, the shock of defeat might even bring some sort of solution. In office but out of power, with no political capacity to arrest the nation’s course, conservatives are condemned to cultivate the “stoic apatheia” that Gottfried ascribes to Kondylis: unwilling dissidents in a state built to constrain them, they must watch from the sidelines as history brings Britain’s dysfunction to a close.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
2 months ago

Reading the news these days while also reading William Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic, detailing France’s slide into anarchy, defeat, occupation, and Vichyism during the 1930s, is very depressing.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago

I’m not sure it will be France the 1930s.
It is much more likely that Britain will turn into a proto-fascist entity under rainbow-green banners. London is already there.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

I’m just fresh off re-reading Scruton’s Conservatism. For him, I’d say, conservatism is a Mr. Brooke of Middlemarch warning against going too far. First against the excesses of liberalism, then of socialism, and now of wokism and Islamism.
Looking back I’d say that conservatism does best after the left has wrecked Britain, as in post-WWII Attlee Labour, and Seventies Wilson Labour. I wonder what the post-Starmer Britain will be like.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
2 months ago

I finally got around to reading Atlas Shrugged last year, had no idea what it was about I only picked it up because of the vitriol aimed at Rand. She’s not the greatest writer who ever lived but I was delighted to the point of laughing out loud at her characterisation of the bourgeois socialists. That mix of accusations and pious hand wringing coupled with obviously plain old self serving acquisition of wealth and power. The second of those being the very criticism they make of, well, anyone who has more than they currently do. I fear we have allowed them to comprehensively f*ck us. Where can a person go now in world to get away from this crap?

David Brown
David Brown
1 month ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

they say Bourton-on-the-Water can be very nice at this time of year

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

A traumazone. Every flame of freedom will have been extinguished. The freedom to create wealth and grow enterprises. Gone. The freedom to even criticise publicly the progressive identitarian ideology and the growth of sectarianism. Gone. You cannot creare a system dependent upon uncontrolled mass migration which shatters a public sector in which greedy young doctors and unions are in the ascendant. Watch Traumazone, the story of a similar self enriching Elite corrupted and debased life in Russia. The progressives have captured the Law and media and the State itself. So democracy itself has been castrated.

Au Contraire
Au Contraire
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

After 13 years of Tory economic and enterprise management it is a bit rich to evoke a potential nightmare Starmer Labour government performance. I mean it could hardly get worse after 14 years of the current lot! In case you haven’t noticed migration under the present regime has far outstripped the Blairite Labour! If you can’t even see that then you fail to recognise the bankruptcy of the Right project! Not to mention the demographic / ethnic shift that has been caused by Brexit!

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  Au Contraire

On the contrary Au Contraire, you have not read my words. The Tory Project is NOT a project of the Right as you put it. They are a false label Qusling adjunct to the leftist Big State Progressive Order – pro DEI pro Net Zero anti enterprise…it is the United 30 Year Troika – EU/Blair/Fake Tory – who have propelled it and us to bankrupcy. And if you think the full fat class envy Progressives of Starmer’s Labour cannot make it far worse, you are a sadly a dreamer.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Au Contraire

That’s just tribalism. Both parties nowadays seek to represent the same suburban graduate class. That makes them effectively indistinguishable. Ask yourself: what is Starmer’s policy for reforming the housing market? After all, suburban graduates are sitting on enough entirely unearned wealth to fix everything that is wrong here several times over. ‘Nothing’ is the answer. He will do absolutely nothing. No revision of Council Tax. No Mansion Tax. Nothing at all.

Robert Millinship
Robert Millinship
2 months ago
Reply to  Au Contraire

Well, let’s wait and see! He also has no-one who has any experience of doing a real job for more than a few weeks – himself included. How about him trying to defend muslim attackers versus the British state using taxpayer funded money? The Director of Public Prosecutions? And have we really understood his pension protection arrangements – compared to those of the people he hopes will vote for him?….

tony g.
tony g.
2 months ago

Will there be a Britain worth saving post-Starmer?

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
2 months ago

Very drole.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Atlee, wrecked Britain?
crazy…

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
2 months ago

I’m impressed that you can dismiss the driving political force of the past forty years as “misguided intellectual fashions and vague Boomer idealism”, without even once giving it its proper name – neoliberalism.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

Possibly because modern progressive orthodoxies are not “liberal” in any way shape or form. The world can actually be quite complicated with different currents going on at the same time!

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

Aris hits the right notes here. I just think we should be more explicit about the bewildering but now open embrace of Blairite/EU Progressivism by the Fake Tories and how they have chosen to conserve it – that revolution. They basically bowed the knee and did adult things to that New Order with the Wet We are Not Nasty Cameron and Proudly Woke May. They have renounced all the values of Thatcherism & traditional Scrutonesque Conservatism and then spat at the people’s Brexit Revolution too. We just failed to see it because there was a pro Hamas anti British loony called Jeremy who wanted to run things. They despise capitalism and wealth creation. They fully embrace a now murderous NHS. Avowed and meek multiculturalists, they refuse to tackle the Islamist threat directly and do not defend the security interests of the nation state. All too nasty. Better to be proudly woke and to make millions from the property wealth Heist that has enriched them and the rest of the London Elite. There IS a class dimension to the Blairite Revolution. They act as one to preserve their new wealth. So yes it is a husk and yes it warrants total extinction. Starmer is just one of the same managerialist propetocrat Remainiac consocialist clerisy who are all milking the 30 year system and whose gross errors – magic money debt mountains, redistributive only high taxation, net zero degrowth and no energy security, open borders and 12m mass immigration, 10m depressed welfarists, toxic DEI and lockdown insanity, – mean that it is not only Fake Tories who confront extinction. It is the Blair/EU Progresssive State itself as well as the two parties that together have constructed a failed Order that is soon going to hit the rocks.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Very good. Nails it well.

Idly, I just wonder why the Conservatives didn’t see this coming. They could have ridden the wave.

Their naivety is staggering.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It’s not naivety, it’s nature. The Scorpion and the Frog.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It is the bubble in which they exist. They only ever come into contact with people with the same ideals and values

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 months ago

Which utterly disqualifies them to govern.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

In modern politics politicians focus is on headlines, next week. Anything long term is too much effort to consider.
It’s like a Ponzi scheme. It’s great in the early phases because of all the promises and then it collapses.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The National Economic Development Office looked beyone the next election(s) but was closed down!

Andrew S
Andrew S
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I am unsure why the columnist refers to conservatism (a philosophical outlook which in today’s world has particular policy approaches associated with it) with the Conservative Party. The historic brand name has nothing to do with their policies or attitudes and that has been the case for decades.
Accordingly I do not think you need to wonder why the Tories “didn’t see this coming”. They are fully in agreement with what has happened and they facilitated the changes and the furtherance of Blairite destruction of our institutions. They did this with their eyes open and their minds engaged with it. The proposition the last 14 years was all a mistake or oversight is simply not credible, especially when you claim, that Gove is an intellectual whi has been involved throughout.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Correct! The last line of this article makes the same fundamental error the majority of us have made over the past 15 years. The Tories are not UNWILLING dissidents of the Progressive State. They have been and are with maybe 20 exceptions WILLING collaborators. DEI? Net Zero? Lockdown authoritarianism? Brownite tax? It was the people outside the new EU UK State who led the Brexit counter revolution not them! It was the people who led the fight against Corbynism and sadly trusted Tories to be the Tories of Old. These noisy events masked the astonishing fact the Proud Woke Anti Slaver and the Fool Johnson were all non Big State Tory Progressive Quislings. How much proof do we need?? Only a week ago, Hunt was having fun slaying the Scottish oil industry with insane Windfall taxes and bunging the corrupt deadly 1940 Socialist Monolith NHS yet more billions. The revolutionary State and New Order erected by Blair to render us a compliant EU Province – its powers invested in supreme judges and protected by a captured State Media and permenant/unelected technocratic Blob – has swallowed these non Tories members of the New Elite – whole. They slipped down the whale’s mouth with joy, their fierce allegiance to their fellow Property rich Remainiac being greater than any loyalty to people, party or nation state.

Iain Swan
Iain Swan
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

It shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Times columnist Phillip Collins, who was close to the real architects of the Blairite revolutionary project, explained it all 20 years ago.
Collins witnessed the 2001 Labour election campaign and became increasingly perplexed by the campaign team’s level of anxiety when the Labour victory was a foregone conclusion. It was explained to Collins that the whole point of the election was not just to re-elect a Labour government but to also destroy, once and for all, the “forces of conservatism”. The Blairites knew Labour would eventually lose an election; what they wanted to ensure was that the Tories were so traumatised by 2 catastrophic election defeats that when they did return to power it would be as a Blairite party not a conservative one so that the revolution continued apace. That is what we have seen in the last 14 years

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Indeed. What the author is really alluding to is neoliberalism (an erstwhile Conservative endeavour), yet curiously reluctant to give it that name.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew S

I used to think Gove’s solo dancing on the dance floor was funny, but now I think they were the gyrations of a man possessed.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

No, just on drugs.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I just wonder why the Conservatives didn’t see this coming. 
Even Thatcher was befuddled by Blair. She thought that he understood enterprise, when in reality neither he nor any of his followers in the Tory Party have ever been able to distinguish between real wealth creation and the artificial variety. It has never occurred to any of them that an endless house price boom and GDP increases based on mass immigration are any different from actually providing real services and making useful things.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The lamp posts are already there, all that is needed is rope.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It is something far more sinister than naivete.

Justin S
Justin S
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Excellent comment – “gross errors – magic money debt mountains, redistributive only high taxation, net zero degrowth and no energy security, open borders and 12m mass immigration, 10m depressed welfarists, toxic DEI and lockdown insanity, – mean that it is not only Fake Tories who confront extinction. ”

This is what 14 years of Tory Government has given us.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin S

‘No Energy Security’ was brought in by Labour’s 2008 Climate Change Act, and continued by the Heir to Blair and the other nonentities, though Truss did want to start fraccing: it was why she had to go! Russia, China and OPEC must be having a good laugh.

The Tory Party may have been in government for 14 years, but Dave’s A List MPs weren’t Tory at all though. This is when the damage was done, with the party morphing to the Lib Dems, with the Coalition Government easing their journey.

It’s just Thatcher’s Wets resurrected, with no understanding that some people still want to be self supporting, independent, and heard.

The audacity!

And it’s not as though Britain is the only Western country that is up the creek without a paddle. That isn’t an excuse, but useful information to start the diagnosis. Or we could just throw out all those promoting idiocy, and start again. It couldn’t be any worse, could it?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin S

This is what 14 years of Tory Government has given us.

No, it’s what 25 years of Clinton/Blair neo-liberalism has given us. Let’s not forget it was Gordon Brown who broke the link between housing costs and interest rate policy, thereby triggering the largest upward transfer of wealth in our history, a transfer that will accelerate under Starmer. The Tories are just accomplices.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin S

Exactly as Labour had done before, only worse. And exactly the same will happen again with Labour, only worse.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

This
> We just failed to see it because there was a pro Hamas anti British loony called Jeremy who wanted to run things.

Doesn’t equate to this

> . All too nasty. Better to be proudly woke and to make millions from the property wealth Heist that has enriched them and the rest of the London Elite.

Corbyn has a good house, yes, but neither he nor his followers are the wealthy who support house price increases. Arguably the support for the left grew with the inequality gen Z is experiencing.

Pro Zionism is part of the problem with modern British conservatism. Israel is a different country. The people who support it are often extremely woke on other issues – see pretty much all of Hollywood.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Well said. The UK seems to be in an even worse way than most other places in the west, who are all slowly, haltingly, coming to grips with then end of the globalist era. Biden’s economic policy looks more like Donald Trump’s than it does anyone else’s on every issue other than immigration (which is the issue that’s hurting him most in the polls). Investment firms are backing off ESG and DEI. China and Russia are continuing to ruthlessly pursue their own national interests with no regard for the ‘global community’ or the citizens of other nations. They continue to try to establish their own international system that favors their interests and that they control. Globalism has failed, past tense. The writing is writ large for anyone who cares to read it. I feel bad for you folks as the British people actually seem to be aware of which way the wind is blowing. Brexit and the 2019 election showed as much, but the leadership of both parties seems to be hopelessly and implacably wedded to globalist ideals and won’t let go until someone actually forces their hand off the wheel. After Labour wins their landslide and delivers more of the same, maybe a genuine opposition party will actually form. Better late than never I suppose.

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

A now murderous NHS? That NHS that has given me a knee so brilliant I have walked thousands of kilometres with it and which saved my life when I was dying of sepsis? That murderous NHS? Negligently homicidal at times, perhaps, but murder requires intent. I tend to agree with the overall drift of your comments, but you fall badly with that phrase.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

We can agree that its profound dysfunction and managerial incompetence has lead to catastrophic outcomes and” negligent homicide’. I am very glad that it has relieved your ailment. What I ask you to consider are the actions of the Young Doctors and consultants in denying hundreds of thousands of relief from suffering with their base greed politically motivated & protracted strike action. They claim to be poor baristas but are a core and hyper privileged part of our 1% Super Rich with pensions groaning with wealth (169k a year enough?) before so often keeping the trade in the family. In a diabolical decision, an NHS which had failed to build any PPI hospital beds had shut down all non covid services for 2 years, so creating the heavy toll of ‘excess deaths’ in cancer and more and permanent waiting lists. To go on strike yet again now for 35% is not just scandalous. We are not trains. They are needed there to save life and stop the tsunami of post lockdown suffering, all done to protect the NHS, not the people, remember. But the narcissism fanaticism and cold eyed political intent of these Red Guards makes them look away and let the agonies of the vulnerable go on and on. I think they warrant condemnation.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

Walter likes a bit of demagoguery, it works well on the Unherd audience.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I think you will find Scruton and Thatcher at opposite ends of conservativism. Thatcher was a free market disrupter who was partly responsible for new labour and everything that has happened since – including the extreme version of the financial crash which occurred in the UK. She never understood that the traditions of the country were hardly going to be preserved by selling off the council houses and destroying industrial Britain. Scruton had a much stronger sense that the unrestrained free market is quite the opposite of conservativism

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

You are right, two very different strains. But both sought to preserve or restore freedoms and liberties and the interests of the nation state. The Progressive EU compliant New Order has warred on the interests of the nation state and is defined by top down authoritarianism, internationalism and the erosion of our basic freedoms. There is a world of ideological difference between Scruton and Thatcher and the pro DEI pro Net Zero pro EU pro Big State Progressive Quislings who have run the post 2010 ‘Conservative Party’ onto the rocks.

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Blair recognised Thatcher as ‘an agent of change’. One of her cabinet colleagues described her after her death as ‘a Whig radical’.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 months ago

Exactly

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

It’s the kids.

The left can’t win without inexperienced minds to convince that utopia exists. Conservatives have had to move left for the same reason – to court younger people. Boomers and younger groups are no longer socially conservative. The remaining right leaning planks of fiscal prudence, self reliance and upward mobility have been eroded by the GFC, Covid and war.

The whole leftward move has been driven by media who are dependent on advertisers, who relentlessly target the young as they become even harder to reach. Media consumption by young people is steeped in fantasy. Reality is further away from western kids than ever before.

Right leaning parties have lost control of the arguments. I just hope the kids don’t have to learn by catastrophe.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As with many of the comments on UH, I accept the pessimistic analysis but recoil from the resigned fatalism. The difficulties that confront Britain today are less extreme than those of the 1970s yet – contrary to the expectations of many pundits – Thatcher, who many of these fatalistic conservatives claim to admire, managed to reverse the decline. I suspect that if they encountered a reincarnated Maggie they might be shocked by her disdain and brisk instructions to pull their socks up.

There are solutions to many of our national problems and none of the more existential global difficulties – China, post truth “progressivism, climate, etc – represent insurmountable challenges. I share the widespread disdain for the current government but a spell in opposition may enable the Tories – or their replacements – to debate the problems, identify the best responses and prepare for an invigorating new period of radical rule. “Pessimism of the intellect but optimism of the will!” as Gramsci correctly suggested.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I applaud your freethinking, fairmindedness, and measured hope. (The nerve of quoting even one sentence of Gramsci in an approving way at UnHerd BTL!).
The will and determination to “recoil from the resigned fatalism” mightn’t make for the best-trending meme, but it is for sure better than no hope at all. To languish in despondency is a sin. Forgive me for saying so in such an old-fashioned way.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Sorry I don’t accept this. All politicians struggle in this capitulating to Tech, post 2008 low interest, outsource to China environment, politicians of all colours lack real power and the voters have become apathetic, charmed by low inflation and cheap loans, not needing or wanting to work, we have become pathetic and must take our share of responsibility, our kids are given phones not values, and our lives are being controlled by big tech, the elites and their corporations. It is these parasites that want the things that we rail against, immigration and impotent government, we have given ‘them’ all of our money and now there is none left, more labour taxation will further erode the middle class tax base and they will stop working too. We will all be getting universal basic income, funded by Zuckerburg et al. Ps Corbyn was at least honest and had some decent ideas, he stood up to the corrupt mainstream politicians, he was just a victim to the elite’s propaganda press (perhaps like you Walter)?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

You touch on a massive contradiction in contemporary Conservatism. The ‘values of Thatcherism & traditional Scrutonesque Conservatism’ you mention cannot ultimately co-exist. Dr Scruton’s patriotic, even organic vision of England, which Disraeli in his romantic way shared, has long been out of fashion, derided by metropolitans. But it probably has far more appeal to most people than attempts to repackage thatcherism. Mrs Thatcher in vital ways was not a true Conservative but a neo-Mancunian liberal with a quasi-religious belief in the always beneficial powers of the Free Market – allowing the super-rich to get ever richer while dissolving national boundaries. This globalising creed is one that Blair, Brown, Cameron, Sunak and indeed Starmer take the knee to, but it incites widespread revolts, from the ‘gilets jaunes’ in France to Welsh farmers and the ever-opportunistic Galloway. No political party in Britain at present seems to take this into account – certainly not Reform, still in the thrall of the Free Market. The one exception is perhaps the tiny Social Democrat Party supported by Rod Liddle. Liddle for PM?

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

Gove expects to be welcomed into the new regime with open arms. It is not going to happen and thank God for that. The treachery of the Tories will hopefully see them entirely obliterated as a political force for the first time in two centuries in the next election. Britain, no, England, deserves a better class of politician.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 months ago

“…Khan is not an Islamist, but instead a generic progressive, a cookie-cutter Twitter-brained liberal..”

Yep.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 months ago

“liberals have brought about a world that threatens to eat them whole”
A perfect summary 
.

Andrew Langridge
Andrew Langridge
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Yes, and conservatism has been the biggest cheer-leader for economic liberalism, a way of protecting the interests of the wealthy, big business, cartels, the City, and perpetuating the status quo through tax-cutting, and undermining the welfare state.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
2 months ago

It’s been The Conservative Party that has been cheer leading. Cameron’s A Lists did the damage, while conservativism is still the conserving of what works, rather than total destruction, and Building Back Better.

But dysfunctionality been a common occurance. The Climate Activists have masqueraded as Climate Scientists, and that has brought NET Zero Energy policies. The NHS has been seen to ‘over cooperate’ with the Pharmaceutical companies (and Food Industry), and taken their focus of the health of their patients.

Is it because there are too many Arts, Humanities and Social Science graduates in Parliament? We need old fashioned diversity, where people from different walks of life, and different skills, other than politics, could come to credible conclusions.

Alan Melville
Alan Melville
2 months ago

Arts, Humanitites, Soc Sci and LAW graduates.
Lawyers seem to believe that writing a new law changes behaviour. That is, at best, wishful thinking, and at worst means bad law that will be ignored thus weakening all other law.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

You’re both right and both wrong. It was the entire political spectrum almost everywhere in the west that embraced globalism. Laying it at the feet of one group or another is disingenuous. It’s not like 1930’s Germany where almost all the problems can be laid at the feet of one small political group who managed to gain power at the right moment. It was a broad consensus that dominated the western ruling class and most of its citizens for two decades. .

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Great article. And some very good comments below.

As an aside, it’s hard for me to believe how Gove has escaped opprobrium. He is the Piers Morgan of the Conservative party — a man who rides every stupid idea like a horse if he thinks it will make him popular. He was a lockdown fanatic (like Morgan) and, after the disaster, Teflon-like he just sails on. It is infuriating that he is what passes for a serious policy-making intellectual. He he is one of those people who should never again be allowed anywhere near power.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago

‘Woe is me’ article masquerading as insightful.
Fundamentally Author seems to lack any real understanding of what’s gone wrong with British, and to some extent broader Western, capitalism, with the v Rich doing v nicely whilst rest stagnate. The Author is part of the problem – avoiding the questions we should really be asking.
He contends the public voted for total change via Brexit and in 2019 – but then fails to outline what that change was to be. Levelling up perhaps? A revamped economic model? A return to traditional values? We’ve no idea as Author doesn’t elaborate. And here’s why – because his faux insights would implode the moment what he’d do comes into contact with the challenges modern states face.
However will satisfy a decent proportion of the Unherd subscriptions as allows a rant about all the others to blame.

Andrew R
Andrew R
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“Fundamentally Author seems to lack any real understanding of what’s gone wrong with British, and to some extent broader Western, capitalism”.

Really, he’s nailed it here perfectly…

“During the Nineties, through a combination of misguided intellectual fashions and vague Boomer idealism, the belief took hold across the elites of Western societies that the unfettered movement of goods, money and people across national borders would herald a new era of cosmopolitan prosperity and social harmony. Eventually, reality intervened: as with other Western societies, only more so, Britain is now poorer, unhappier and less harmonious as a result”.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

You’re so easily satisfied with vague, distorted nonsense. That’s not an economic understanding at all. Now were you to zero in a bit more on the development of complex financial instruments that many failed to understand, the parcelling up of risk to create an illusion it didn’t exist, and the preference for asset accumulation rather than investment in innovation that generates good, services and jobs, you might be onto something. But I suspect you need a simpler answer that fits with your prejudices.

Andrew R
Andrew R
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“the preference for asset accumulation rather than investment in innovation that generates good, services and jobs”.

That came about through low interest rates and mass immigration. Rates remained low even as those assets were increasing well above their original value. The last five governments could have done something to alleviate these measures (and the complex financial instruments), they all chose not to.

This has been pointed out to you time and time again and you deliberately choose to ignore it. I suggest it’s you that enjoys vague, banal answers that suit your prejudices.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Other than lower legal immigration, which I think we’d all welcome albeit you never outline any potential trade-offs, I’m not sure what you proposing? Much like the Author where a critique easier than a prospectus, but I do get a glimmer you have some idea that some fundamental changes needed to UK investment structure and that you recognise asset accumulation maybe gone too far? How would you now arrest that, esp as the trend and indications are it’s got momentum now that leads to ever increasingly inequality with all the problems that gives?
I’d push for more wealth taxes and changes to how investment in goods, services and jobs in UK Businesses better incentivised through tax system too. Last 14 years 50% of UK companies in FTSE 100 now foreign owned, and that’s before we get onto the ownership structure of some of our critical infrastructure.
(By the way last 5 Govts all been Tory – Cameron, May, Bojo, Mad Liz and Sunak).

Andrew R
Andrew R
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“(By the way last 5 Govts all been Tory – Cameron, May, Bojo, Mad Liz and Sunak)”.

No. They have been Blair/Brown, Cameron x2, May and Johnson.

I should have said the last 7 governments, so that would have included the 2nd Blair government. It was the first Blair government that introduced mass immigration and kept housing out of the price index.

I can go along with a lot of the financial changes you suggest.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Well there’s something to work on then. On additional financial changes I think could help – equalising rates of capital gains tax with income tax, so that income from wealth is taxed at the same level as income from work. That’s another ÂŁ20b and not from those really struggling. Removing loopholes and reliefs from inheritance tax would raise around ÂŁ1-2bn a year. Applying national insurance more consistently across all forms of income could raise over ÂŁ30bn a year. And an annual tax on stocks of wealth would raise nearly ÂŁ12bn a year.
Plus we reset how tax system works to incentivise goods and services, including tech to reduce reliance on migrant workforce etc.
It’s doable, but strong vested interests will push back and already control large chunks of the media.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

His name is Lord Call Me Dave, okay?

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I agree with you in this, but not your original comment.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The defining feature of the new EU and its UK province has been the creation of a controlling bureaucratic regulatory state driven by a hyper legalised culture of risk aversion and the precautionary principle. This permanent managerial technocracy has utterly suffocated investment (read Times today) here in the UK and in Europe. Capitalist dynamism and innovation has been crushed under its stagnant weight. It began with Brown letting the incompetents in BoE run riot and then raiding the pensions industry; so savaging the savings culture. But it has never stopped. Regulators need to keep regulating. Enterprise is saddled with risk averse play safe banks and insane red tape regulatory demands to make them bow to progressive ideologies; from coercive DEI anti meritocratic hirings to net zero constraints..all before whacking them with higher and higher taxation. It is this hyper regulatory state that is crippling and stiffling growth. You still talk about the Rich as if its 1890, failing to grasp how the asset bubbles engineered by your progressive state’s Elite rewarded a whole new class of entitled people – the Remainiac homeowners of London and the SE – and made a huge proportion of the New Rich not evil factory owners shoving kids up chimneys, but the super rich NHS consultants and managers, top civil servants, council leaders, regulators, university heads, and Third Sector charity bosses – i.e the entitled bosses of the public sector – all sucking greedily and getting rich on the teats of a battered unrespected private sector.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

No WM, you’ve allowed yourself to be funnelled down a cul de sac and off the trail. Your definition of super-rich is exactly who the real super-rich would like you to attack instead. Here’s an example – why does the current PM, who earned more than ÂŁ2m last year and married to a billionaire pay same effective tax rate as a teacher?  Well in part because there are plenty of useful idiots out there who can be made to buy into the sort of twaddle you convey.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I give up on you JW! You refuse to acknowledge how the massive QE driven bubble in assets did not just enrich the tiny few Super Rich like Musk or Bezos ( whose enterprise – do note – has generated billions in tax revenue for teachers and doctors and given employment to thousands). The Bubble has made millions of SE England, Londoners & big city dwellers untaxed capital rich millionaires simply by virtue of their postcode! Our political class has carefully managed – beginning with 30 house Blair – a near criminal 25 year heist which enriched a hige new class of propetocrat millionaires by shutting down all supply whilst ramping up permanent demand via free movement and open borders to 10 million. This linked mass immigration and property scandal has crashed our public services and caused immense suffering. But still you put the telescope to your blind eye. Still you fail to recognise this revolution I would rather 5 talented entrepreneurs to 500 drossy mendacious politicos like Milliband and Starmer with their pet ideologies, 2 kitchen 4million homes and pitiful contribution to national life.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Asset wealth has certainly increased for those who had assets, but much more for the super-rich who have many more assets. Simple.
You perennially avoid illuminating how much better the super-rich have done whilst the vast majority stagnated and offer vacuous policy rose tinted responses that fundamentally would do nothing to address matters. The idea all asset super-rich are entrepreneurs providing new jobs and services to others a ‘useful idiot’ bit of nonsense.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Huh?? Who are your super rich then???
You studiously ignore the point that so many have made that the UK Rich List are now part of an overpaid vast parasitic broken and greedy public sector. If the rest are not entrepreneurs in the vanguard of the private sector, who are they?? Footballers? Drug and people traffickers?? Who?? Again..our ‘super rich’ like Dyson, JCB and the 365 Betting Lady are not people to be condemned, even if the Progressive Blob’s utterly cynical mismanagement of the Bubble made them even richer. They created companies that give employment to hundreds of thousands (who then pay tax) and whose companies flood the Exchequer with cash. This is not America. The 365 lady pays herself annual dividends which pay for a whole new hospital every time (if it wasnt being wasted on DEI managers and striking Barista Consultants on 169k pensions). Meanwhile, you for the 100th time ignore the beneficiaries of the Property Revolution – the vast cohort of the wholly undeserving untaxed property New Rich of London and the SE, whose terror of any change to the status quo property boom saw them turn into Remainiac fanatics. How can you miss all this?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As I said in response to this other comment you made on the article on piketty’s failed revolution, which was ‘NHS consultants, top civil servants, GPs and council leaders our own super rich in the top 1%’
That is mathematically incorrect. To be in the top 1% you need to be earning at least ÂŁ160,000 per year. The top salary for NHS consultants does not go above ÂŁ130,000, except in very rare circumstances. It’s true, some top civil servants are paid closer to half a million, but this is very rare, and even in these cases these people are still towards the bottom of the 1%.
Instead you’d do better to think of bankers, company CEOs and (the least deserving of them all) old landowners like the Grosvenor family (value: £9.5bn, land owned: 50% of Mayfair) when imagining the 1%.

Andrew R
Andrew R
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

It’s like you read a completely different article and came to your own vapid conclusion.

The challanges the modern state are facing are ones entirely of its own making and they powerless to change it (even if they wanted to. They dont, btw).

For the past 30 odd years the electorate wanted good governance, they got ideology, naked political self interest and personal enrichment instead.

B Emery
B Emery
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

‘Fundamentally Author seems to lack any real understanding of what’s gone wrong with British, and to some extent broader Western, capitalism with the v Rich doing v nicely whilst rest stagnate. ‘

We do not have capitalism. That is what has gone wrong with capitalism. Government intervention in the economy is what has gone wrong. It seems very difficult for people to understand this.
Sanctions regimes are destroying global trade and causing inflation everywhere, in every sector.

‘He contends the public voted for total change via Brexit and in 2019 – but then fails to outline what that change was to be’

Very simple. Lower legal immigration, stop illegal immigration, free trade and out of Europe.
Could have been very successful, free trade could have been like a golden injection, if we had stayed out of americas proxy war we wouldn’t have suffered inflation like the rest of Europe which would have made us a lot more competitive in business, could have even nabbed some European industry, would have had a good environment for business, more jobs, more tax revenue – no stagnation. Now we have highly volatile energy markets, prices of everything on the up, interests rates up because of government qe policies and generally the economy is in a shambolic state.
Stopping the boats would have saved them a fortune in hotel bills, lowering immigration would have pushed wages up a bit and the big corporations rinsing through immigrant labour would have had to sort out their employment policies, then they could have started to sort the housing crisis out, as in make sure we have enough housing before we say people can move here.

Far too complicated for the government to cope with apparently. Every action they have taken so far completely contradicts the brexit mandate.

David Collier
David Collier
2 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

Where in the Brexit referendum did it say anything about immigration?

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

You are right we don‘t have capitalism in most of the Western countries. It is actually a watered down version, called corporatism: governments tell industry what to produce, mostly in the name of the new religion: Net Zero. Any innovation is starved of oxygen and should it succeed taxation will finally smother it.
Unbridled illegal immigration is taking place everywhere in the West, and no politician seems to be willing to consider serious policies to stop it.
Also the crazy measurements during Covid made the coming problem of huge inflation even worse. Most governments didn’t have the will or guts to find independent thinking scientists, who looked at the whole picture, but slavishly obeyed some scientists, who already worked as bureaucrats in many previous administrations. Only level headed countries like Sweden were lucky enough to have some sensible scientists, who looked at the long term picture and consequences. Magic money was spread around with abandon and huge chunks of the population was paid for doing nothing. It seems they still haven‘t come back to work. How will Britain, and I would include the rest of the Western World, deal with all these near insurmountable problems? It will take a revolution, because the whole current crop of Western politicians seem to be the gravediggers of Western culture, wealth and innovation 


j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

There were alot of bozos who thought Brexit would reduce immigration for sure, but they missed the point that to reduce reliance on immigration you need to do much more than withdraw from a trading deal. You need to get honest with folks too about the trade-offs. We’re still waiting.
As regards the Boats – it’s a genuinely v difficult problem. Take a step back and understand things like what’s going in the Sahel or parts of the middle east. People movement is going to relentlessly keep coming. Boats will keep coming too, regardless of whether a few hundred end up in Rwanda. We need to lift our eyes and work with partners to try and stem what is driving the movement.

B Emery
B Emery
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The boats are coming from the EU and the people in them are crossing Europe illegally, as far as I’m concerned that is a European problem and we should send them back to the French coast, France is bigger than us, it’s European country – there’s no reason why the boat people wouldn’t be happy there and it’s not our fault Europe can’t vet it’s own borders. If they have made it all the way across France then the French police are doing a sh*t job and that’s not our problem.
We wouldn’t even have to bother with the Rwanda plan if we turned them around and sent them back.
By all means look at what can be done to stop them coming in the first place. Do you have any ideas? Also ‘working with our partners’ would be fine but china and Russia now have much influence in both africa and the middle east, you know those totalitarian and autocratic regimes you kept saying we shouldn’t negotiate with – the ones we are having a trade war and a real war with, so you might find that difficult now. That would involve diplomacy and negotiation.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

Sending them back to France not really engaging with the challenge there BE. It’s a wonder the French help at all in truth. Would we/you if the reverse applied? And what happens to import/export traffic if we unilaterally started pushing them back onto French beaches? Come on you need to think it through and not let emotion cloud our engagement with a really difficult issue.
Trying to help end conflict and people smuggling in the Sahel and elsewhere not easy but that’s going to have to be part of the solution. You are right that it suits Russia and China that Europe has this pressure, but you are too simplistic in implying some negotiation with them could end it.
Helping solve the conflict in Libya would clearly be a good start but Turkish and Egyptian factions at loggerheads. Turkey has a choke hold on Ukraine too so can’t be easily pressured – until that conflict ends, and we can help it end by extending the help to Ukraine now.
Much is interlinked. Understanding that a Little England approach like King Canute on the beach with the tide rolling in something we have to get beyond.

B Emery
B Emery
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Sending them back to France not really engaging with the challenge there BE. It’s a wonder the French help at all in truth. Would we/you if the reverse applied? And what happens to import/export traffic if we unilaterally started pushing them back onto French beaches? Come on you need to think it through and not let emotion cloud our engagement with a really difficult issue.

Why is it a wonder the French help at all?

The EU sells more to us than we do to them, why should it affect import/ export traffic?

We are an island – asking what would happen if the reverse applied is a daft question. What like if Scottish people suddenly decide to cross england, get in boats to France and turn up on their beaches? Do you think the French would put up with that?

‘ You are right that it suits Russia and China that Europe has this pressure, but you are too simplistic in implying some negotiation with them could end it’

You are the one saying we should lift our eyes and work with our partners, I am implying that it is not likely given the state of geopolitics – you do not think we should negotiate with them so how will you ‘work with our partners’. You show that in fact you are the one that misunderstands the interlink between conflicts by suggesting ‘working with our partners’ in the first place. Our influence in africa and the middle east is weakening.

How exactly do you help to solve these conflicts when the west can barely cope with helping ukraine?

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

Certainly the case the UK’s influence has weakened, esp with the strategic twaddle like Brexit. We’re a laughing stock thanks to the bozos who pushed that.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe, but with the toxic mix of limitless immigration and anti-white racial propaganda there will eventually come a tipping point whereby the indigenous population will begin to rouse itself from sleepy complacency. Fear of cultural annihilation is a decidedly primitive, but very deep-seated survival instinct; existential dread is already beginning to spread across the European continent. The great tragedy here is not just the series of terrible events that are about to take place, but the fact that all of this was entirely foreseeable and avoidable.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

the v Rich doing v nicely whilst rest stagnate

Que? You’ve already confessed to me that you’ve done very nicely. The ‘v Rich’ you go on about are just straw men. There are relatively few of them and literally millions of you. And you consume more than you’ve produced. It really is that simple.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Oh dear, you just can’t help yourself falling back on a late tackle and missing the point/ball HB. Now ask yourself, why is it the richest 1% in the UK are now wealthier than 70% of the population combined?
To my knowledge my RN pension and subsequent employment hasn’t slipped me into that 1% quite yet.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

why is it the richest 1% in the UK are now wealthier than 70% of the population combined?

They’re not. You made that statistic up. As you so often do.
Never mind though, it’s irrelevant. My point really was that your generation has consumed more than it ever produced, not that you’re especially wealthy. That’s not a dodgy statistic like those you make up. It’s a straightforward fact, The evidence is the debt you’ve left us with.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Bloomberg stat HB. Not exactly a hot bed of Marxism. I do appreciate it’s uncomfortable for you to grapple with this because it so obviously shows you are being hoodwinked and deflected away from the real source of power and control.
Now more broadly I would be critical of some of what us Boomers are bequeathing on next generations. We have been blessed and v lucky.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
2 months ago

Robert Peel said Conservatives “would reform to survive”, but would oppose unnecessary change, fearing “a perpetual vortex of agitation”. The Conservative Party today is precisely the opposite of Peel’s conservatism.

Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
2 months ago

They are ‘conservative’ in that they carried on the Blairite policies inherited from their predecesor. Including vast waste on ill conceived gold plated infrastructure failures.
Seems there is a bun fight going on behind the scenes in Labour between ‘Bidenists’ (lets have an industrial policy) and ‘Blairites’ (more of the same)
We will see what happens. Only Labour can kill the Blairite monster.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

Same as Blair vs Brown,though Brown aquiesced(sic) in the end

any links about the ‘bunfight’?

Dennis Learad
Dennis Learad
2 months ago

we have what can only be described for this past two decades a KAKISTOCRACY government administering the UK! same goes for the EU and the USA Warmongers

Richard C
Richard C
2 months ago

I’ve never heard of Kondylis, and a quick look at his work and Mr. Roussinos’s interpretation of it shows that I haven’t missed anything, he’s not really in the Roger Scruton league.
Roussino’s badly confuses the Conservative Parliamentary Party – the deformed creature of Cameron, May and Osborne – as being related to the principles and values of conservatives which, obviously, they’re not.
Given the fundamenatl misunderstandings displayed at the outset, the analysis and proposals in the second half of the article are barely more than a string of non sequiturs.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago

Not much to disagree with there.
The one thing that always seems to bring about change is catastrophic military defeat, following which the old elite all get strung up

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Nail on the head analysis. Why don’t people of the calibre of Aris make it into politics?

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Because then he’d have to propose policies and develop alliances to make real change. V too difficult when you can grab a pay check by chucking a bit of confirmatory bias twaddle out every now and then to similar useful idiots who’ll help mask the real causes and problems.

Andrew R
Andrew R
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

You offer absolutely nothing in response just the usual circular argument. Ooh everything is so complex we must keep on voting in the very same people that created the mess in the first place so they can do nothing about it because it’s all so complex. Yada, yada, yada.

Justin S
Justin S
2 months ago

You lost my confidence in you as a political analyst at this line:
“Michael Gove, the party’s sole intellectual and most competent administrator”

Gove is the single biggest problem in the current Tory parliamentary party. A man who was almost certainly recruited by Labour whilst at Oxford, to operate as a deep cover fake for Labour by joining the Tories.

A man so utterly non Tory that he makes Kier Starmer look slightly blue-ish.

When Gove and his ilk are eviscerated and purged from the Tory Party then it may be worth voting for again.

In the meantime, after 42 years voting Tory- I am heading to the ballot with Reform.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Justin S

A ridiculous conspiracy theory!. I have no brief for the modern Conservative Party, but it has never been a nationalist party of the kind more common in continental Europe. It certainly isn’t today an ideologically conservative Party in any real sense, or at least that is only a small wing of the party. Go forever his faults is entirely within the Thatcherite tradition of reforms along liberal economically liberal lines providing more choice etc, but being very uninterested in cultural issues except in the most superficial manner.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

“the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance”
In other words, the left, as has been amply demonstrated over time. That the right has failed to live up to its own stated ideals is also true. How’s that working out for the average person who is not politically connected or insanely wealthy?
Nations are largely defined by culture, borders, and language. Those things matter. They are distinct features of the nations that populate the annual “happiest countries” lists. They’re not teaching their young to hate who and what they are; they’re not busy tearing down select markers of the past while ignoring how that past no longer exists; and they’re not importing millions who are hostile to the native way of life.
In short, it comes down to something that the economist Milton Friedman once said about politics: govt is not a matter of electing the “right” people; it’s a matter of having a climate in which it is politically advantageous to have the wrong people do the right things. Because without that, the right people won’t do the right things, either, as they are likely to be voted out. And then the populace will complain about the conditions it helped to create.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
2 months ago

Good points by Ari. I was amused by a lot of right wing commentators who were on the free speech band wagon a few months ago happy to support new legislation to curtail “extremism” as if it wouldn’t be primarily used against the right, or even centrists. If you ban BDS it won’t stop there, it will end in people in jail for bad gender think.

Chipoko
Chipoko
2 months ago

‘A Marxist … was lauded as “one of the great conservative thinkers of our age”’
A contradiction in terms if ever I saw one!

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 months ago

So much here to like and approve of. Though not central to his argument, I particularly liked “its under-equipped armed forces and non-existent industrial base poorly match the hawkishness of its foreign policy.” How very very true, and indicative of a massive problem heading towards us.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
2 months ago

Interesting as always. Disagree w/ scantily-buttressed say-so that creative conservatism isn’t universal. Aris’s political philosophy might be dated, but creative conservatism can’t date because it conforms with human motives. But we havent seen hide nor hair of it for a century or more. All we have is the chasm between the governed and the governing.

David Harris
David Harris
2 months ago

If the Conservative Party is to be judged on its actions, and not on its rhetoric, it is not a vehicle for the implementation of Right-wing politics but for its suppression.”
Vote Reform Party whenever you can. Especially at GE24.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
2 months ago

Much to digest there but this is spot on:

“ Yet the mental maps of Britain’s political class are still those of Nineties Britain. With no existing conservatism to temper their political innovations, liberals have brought about a world that threatens to eat them whole. ”

Iain Swan
Iain Swan
2 months ago

It should come as no surprise.
The Times columnist Phillip Collins witnessed the 2001 Labour election campaign and became increasingly perplexed by the campaign team’s level of anxiety when the Labour victory was a foregone conclusion .
It was explained to Collins that the whole object of the campaign was not just a Labour government re-elected but the destruction of the “forces of conservatism “.
The Blairites knew Labour would eventually lose an election and wanted to inflict on the Tories at least one more catastrophic defeat so traumatising the party that they would jettison every conservative policy and belief they held; so that when they eventually replaced the Blairites,, they would do so not as a conservative party intent on reversing the revolution but as a Blairite party determined to advance it. That is what we have seen these past 14 years.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Iain Swan

Don’t all parties do that? Thatcher destroyed our industrial base and left us to be run by the financial markets, and Blair was simply a continuation of this. He in turn left us to be run by supranational institutions such as the EU which Cameron and Co gleefully carried on. This state of the country today is 40 years in the making

Iain Swan
Iain Swan
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If you think the Blair revolution was a continuation of Thatcherism I simply cannot help you.The revolution was specifically cultural not economic but of course we had good old tax and spend in there too, they just had to be more clever in hiding it.

Mrs. Thatcher did not destroy the industrial base, it had already been destroyed. She withdrew the subsidies that kept it on life support.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago
Reply to  Iain Swan

That makes a lot of sense.

But the tired old adage of doing what your enemies did, only better, has stopped working.

Pity the Tories haven’t cottoned on.

I’d vote for a Conservative. But not the current shower, masquerading as such.

Christopher Posner
Christopher Posner
2 months ago

“Khan is not an Islamist, but instead a generic progressive”
Khan’s Islamist connections are well documented
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/mayor/sadiq-khan-shared-platform-with-five-islamic-extremists-a3231436.html
He promotes “progressive” ideology because it works in favour of Islamists.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

Oh dear. This is “progressivism”, not Islamism. Of course, western progressivism may well enable Islamism, but they are not the same phenomenon and have entirely different roots.

The progressive ideology denies that there are any fundamental conflicts between the different intersectional groups whose interest are supposedly being championed, other than perhaps due to “structural racism” or similar. If Sadiq Khan is an “Islamist”, it is rather difficult to see why he spends so much time promoting the LGBT+ agenda. This was not a notable policy priority for the Islamic State!

Your comment is a prime example of exactly the failing analysis of many right wingers that Roussinos perceptively analyses!

Bruce Metzger
Bruce Metzger
2 months ago

W weak aspect of this article is the failure to mention the small “c” conservatism is its attachment or deep connection of trusting the process, trusting the system of things. Because of that embedded trust in conservative thought, it has been around for decades and will continue so. Conservatives trust that eventually the good wins. This too, is their naivety Whereas for many other political groups then ends justify the means. This , as well, is why conservative is not evil..

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
2 months ago

Not a culture war. More a cultural appeasement on the part of the Tories. War to come?

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
2 months ago

As the great unravelling gains momentum I pity poor Gen Z. We have done nothing for them except the industrial-scale digging of rabbit holes for them to explore. Born into a world already hopelessly confused it is easy to see how they might pour out their version of solidarity to Islamists who would stone them dead for their progressive fealty to feminism, LGBT, and atheism. Why should they blanch at the contradiction? Contradiction is what they sucked from their mothers’ tits. The Boomers did this to them with their silly Yoko Ono version of idealism giving birth to Bill Gates idealism and culminating in the great battle of the two old Boomer fools: Biden and Trump. Soon we will no longer ponder the political conflicts within our western states; we’ll be left on the sidelines of a darkened arena where the two sides clashing will be Team Totalitarian and Team Chaos. My money’s on chaos.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

Nigel Farage is the last hope, but only a slim one.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
2 months ago

Hayek, in his 1940’s book Road To Serfdom saw this coming. Post war governments were reluctant to give up the big state that oversaw manufacturing, food production, etc, and our freedoms.
The covid lockdowns experiment reinforced the ease with which many would believe in and accept a curtailment of our freedoms for the state to look after us.
I wish people would not call the lefties ‘progressives’ there’s nothing progressive about their ideology, they are socialists and need to be called out as such.
We are rapidly heading towards a socialist state, the fear is as in 1040’s Germany, what comes next …..

vladimir gorelov
vladimir gorelov
2 months ago

The TFR (Total Fertility Rate) in the U.K. is 1.49. Please explain it to me how it is possible to avoid mortal demographic and economic decline without recourse to immigration?

David Harris
David Harris
1 month ago

“If the Conservative Party is to be judged on its actions, and not on its rhetoric, it is not a vehicle for the implementation of Right-wing politics but for its suppression.”
We have a ConLabLib uniparty that agrees on almost everything (check what they do not what they say). If anyone is still voting Lib, Lab or Con then they have no right whatsoever to complain about Net Zero, woke institutions, high taxes, or out of control immigration – since the ConLabLib uniparty will pursue them regardless. Labour will get in anyway this year so if you care for your country vote for The Reform Party whenever you can. Especially at GE24.