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The year Toryism failed Britain Rishi Sunak sacrificed a vision for expediency — and lost

What would Utley say? (JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

What would Utley say? (JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


January 1, 2024   10 mins

In early 1960, fresh from another Conservative victory and almost a decade of Tory rule, T.E. Utley wondered what it all was for. “The Tories have shown they can win General Elections,” he wrote. “[But] have they still got a philosophy of government?” Utley’s answer, of course, was no — and they would be kicked from power at the next election

At the start of the year, Sunak set out what was supposed to be his response to this same question. The point of his government, he said, was to concentrate on “the people’s priorities”. And these, he claimed, were rising prices, NHS waiting times and illegal immigration. To show his seriousness, he then offered five pledges upon which he could be judged. He would halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce the national debt, cut waiting lists and pass new laws to stop the small boat crossings. “I will only promise what I can deliver,” he concluded in what was supposed to be a rousing peroration. “And I will deliver what I promise.” Here was Sunakian Blairism, where what matters is what works.

A year on, his record is decidedly mixed. His inflation target has been met and the economy has grown, albeit only just. But debt has also grown, waiting lists are up, and no new laws have been passed to stop the small boat crossings, even if the numbers have somewhat come down. If we really are supposed to judge him by results, he’s kept only two of five promises.

The thing is, though, this is not how government should work. Targets are not ends in themselves, but indications of underlying principles. Halving the rate of inflation isn’t the goal; the goal is to create a stable environment in which people can plan their lives.

Beyond Sunak’s five targets, do we have any idea what principles underpin his government, let alone his Conservative Party? Do we know what kind of country they would like to build and why? Again, as in 1960, the answer is surely no.

When you look back at Sunak’s time in power, what is striking is how much he has bounced from one idea to the next. When he first became Prime Minister, in October 2022, he presented himself as a safe pair of hands who would clean up the mess made by his predecessor. By October 2023, he was presenting himself as a radical who represented a break from a failed 30-year consensus. And then he hired David Cameron as his foreign secretary.

Looking back at his record, there are three distinct periods of Sunak’s premiership: the technocratic honeymoon; the political reality check; and the desperate reset. From January to April, Sunak operated with the breezy confidence of a technocratic troubleshooter. After setting out his five tests on January 4, he started scraping off all the unwanted political barnacles he believed were making it harder for his government to function. First, Sunak blocked Nicola Sturgeon’s gender recognition reforms, flashing a bit of unionist muscle with a confidence that put the SNP in a position from which it has yet to really escape. Then, in February, Sunak concluded a deal with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Here was a man in a hurry. By March, this new “Windsor Framework” was comfortably backed in the House of Commons by 515 votes to 29. Sunak was on a roll.

And then reality kicked in.

Over the next four months, from May to August, Sunak’s smooth technocratic sheen started to blister under the relentless pressure of events. First, in the local elections in May, the Tories lost more than 1,000 seats, registering an estimated 26% of the national vote, only a little better than their worst ever local election results in 1995 and 2013. Labour’s 35%, meanwhile, left them nine points ahead of the Tories, the largest lead that the party had recorded in any local election since 2010.

Then, in June, Partygate reared its head once again, with Boris Johnson suddenly announcing he would quit parliament rather than accept the Privileges Committee’s conclusion that he should be suspended for 90 days. Later that month, the Court of Appeal threw out the Government’s policy of sending refugees to Rwanda for processing, declaring the country unsafe. And then, in August, the “crumbly concrete” scandal broke when the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan revealed at least 100 schools would need to close because they were no longer safe. A few days later, Keegan was filmed angrily asking why journalists did not tell her she’s done “a fucking good job” because “everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing?”

By September, the Tories had fallen back in the polls to almost exactly where they were at the start of the year, hovering at around 25% to Labour’s 45%. The truth is, while inflation was on its way down, prices were still rising dramatically and interest rates were being jacked up to deal with it. One way of looking at 2023 is through the prism of individual events, but another is to look at the structural current dragging the Government across the rocks. The basic reality for most people in 2023 was that they were quite obviously getting poorer while their services were getting worse. On top of all this, the Government seemed unable to deal with the growing problem of industrial unrest with strikes hitting transport, schools and even hospitals.

Elsewhere, a new threat was beginning to emerge on the Right, as Reform steadily grew in the polls. It is at this point that we can see the third phase of Sunak’s troubled year begin: the desperate reset.

As summer’s glow faded, Sunak began to show a far sharper political edge than before in an attempt to create dividing lines with Labour and kill off the threat from Reform. First, in September, he watered down some of the Net Zero commitments made by his predecessors, putting himself on the side of the motorist and, as he would have it, “good Conservative common sense”. Then, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in October, he went further, scrapping the northern leg of HS2, connecting Birmingham to Manchester, in order to save billions in public spending he could then start diverting around the country before the next election. Alongside Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement in November, cutting taxes with future spending cuts, the Tory election strategy began to become clear: Vote Tory to stop Labour tax rises. In other words: Sunak was preparing for the classic Tory election.

What was more unusual — or eccentric, even — about Sunak’s conference speech in Manchester, though, was that in setting up this tediously traditional dividing line, he claimed he was upending decades of political wisdom. “What I have learnt is that there is an undeniable sense that politics just doesn’t work the way it should,” he declared. “The feeling that Westminster is a broken system… In particular, politicians saying things, and then nothing ever changing.” Sunak then declared that he agreed with this assessment. “Politics doesn’t work the way it should. We’ve had 30 years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision, not the right one.” He, however, was different.

Sunak’s assessment was revealing. By using this marker, he was dismissing the premierships of not only John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but also those of David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Liz Truss in which he had served. In effect, Sunak was declaring the last successful prime minister Margaret Thatcher. He was, he claimed, her heir. “You either think this country needs to change or you don’t,” he declared with an apparently straight face.

The problem for Sunak is that he couldn’t look more like the system if he tried. There’s nothing radical about him, whether ideologically, stylistically or temperamentally. He went to Winchester, became a banker and then Boris Johnson’s chancellor. He believes in the system and shares its prejudices. He became prime minister when the Conservative Parliamentary Party decided it needed to throw out the Tory members’ choice, Liz Truss, because she couldn’t do the job. In both his first speech as Prime Minister and his set-piece address setting out his five pledges, Sunak claimed to be carrying the same ideological flame as Boris Johnson, only with more competence. “The mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual,” Sunak declared. “It is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us.” When he then decided to keep Johnson’s Rwanda refugee plan, Sunak further tied himself to Johnson’s record. And yet, here he was at the Conservative Party conference, no longer pledging to honour the manifesto of his predecessor, but declaring him part of an era of failure.

Ultimately, it is difficult to take seriously either Sunak’s claim that he is an anti-establishment radical or that he is different from all his predecessors in placing more value on “long-term” decisions than short term gimmicks. All governments must combine principle and expediency, but in his short time in power, Sunak seems to have grown ever more attracted to expediency. In September, he announced he would ban the XL Bully breed of dogs before working out exactly how he would do so. In November, he cancelled a meeting with the Greek PM at the last minute because his opposite number said he wanted the Elgin Marbles returned to Greece. And then in December, he forced ministers to suddenly come up with a new high salary threshold for migrants to be allowed to come to Britain without working out what exactly this would mean for the economy. Far from the calm, confident technocrat of January, here was a Prime Minister thrashing around to get some kind of traction with the public — and with little success. As 2023 draws to a close, Sunak is more unpopular than he was at the beginning, and with the Tories on 22% in the polls, close to the nadir the Tory party reached under Truss.

If there is any hope for Sunak, it lies in the unpopularity of Keir Starmer, an improving economic picture and the fact that his own party just about kept itself together at its the moment of greatest crisis earlier this month — when it faced a choice between defeating the government over Sunak’s latest Rwanda plan or allowing it to die another day. The problem, though, remains the one that Utley put his finger on in 1960: what is the government’s purpose?

Throughout Utley’s career, he prodded and probed at this most elemental of questions about the purpose of Toryism. In 1974, he wrote a piece titled “Left, Right — or simply Tory?” in which he took aim at the inadequacy of the Conservative Party simply declaring itself the party of common sense, as Sunak did in his party conference speech. “On the rare and painful occasions when the Tory party feels constrained to re-examine its role in British politics,” Utley observed, “it normally starts its thinking with the assumption that, whatever other characteristics it should have, it should above all else be a party of ‘balance’ and ‘moderation’.”

Often, this means the party finds itself so desperate to avoid handing over any power to what it sees as its own “lunatic fringe” that it becomes captured by its “cliché ridden progressive wing” which is most obsessed with this notion of balance yet has few answers about the purpose of its rule. But, as Utley saw, Toryism needs to be about more than just moderating between other people’s ideologies — socialism and liberalism, say. And nor can it simply be about conserving the status quo, because that status quo could be wrong. This, though, is exactly where the Tory party finds itself once again, so desperate to avoid handing power to the various groups of lunatics that have formed on its Right that it has stopped thinking about what it actually believes.

In 1974, Utley suggested a series of maxims that made up authentic Toryism. On top of securing the nation against foreign attack and maintaining public order at home, he argued that the chief function of government was to use its influence and power to “maintain that minimum of cultural and moral unity within society without which a nation can be held together only by political tyranny”. Toryism, in other words, was neither liberalism nor libertarianism. It does not believe in a neutral state, but one that fosters a sense of common purpose, habit, custom, duty and morality. As part of this job, Utley wrote, Toryism also believes the State is “justified in intervening to protect sections of the community whose protection is seen to be a matter of special importance to the nation as a whole”. Finally, Utley argued that of all the groups which the State exists to protect, “none is of more fundamental importance than the family”. And to protect the family, the State needed to defend and — crucially — expand property ownership.

Looking at the record of the past 13 years of Conservative rule and it is hard to think of it as in any way particularly Tory. Almost nothing has been done to promote a sense of national unity across the whole of the UK. A trade border has been erected within the country and trade deals are signed that seem to actively put British producers at a disadvantage. Foreign governments are invited in to build core national infrastructure or run once-nationalised industries. Home ownership has collapsed and families are having fewer and fewer children in part because of the necessity for both parents to work full-time to afford the basics of life. State subsidies for childcare only apply to nurseries and other official settings and do nothing to help parents or grandparents look after their own children. And, uniquely in Europe, the tax system does not see family units, only individual workers.

Sunak has shown some signs of an instinctive Toryism with his ideas about banning social media for the young, but there is little evidence of a wider, coherent Tory vision of what his government is trying to do. On the whole, Conservative governments now seem to treat everything as economic. People must be made more healthy — to grow the economy. Mothers and the retired must return to work — to grow the economy. And immigration must increase — to grow the economy.

While there is a good deal of lunacy on the Tory Right, it is also the case that there is more intellectual energy coming on the fringes of the party than around Sunak, Cameron and the old Left. The New Conservatives, for example, today offer a more authentic Utleyite Torysim on questions of immigration and the family than the party’s liberal wing, which claims to want to reduce immigration but baulks at the economic price of doing so. Miriam Cates, though now under investigation for apparently bringing Parliament into disrepute, is not anachronistic in her concern about the falling birth rate in Britain — this is now a distinctly modern problem affecting not only this country, but almost all Western democracies. How to deal with the new reality of low birth rates, low growth and mass immigration will, in fact, be one of the central questions facing all Western economies over the coming decades.

Most important of all is Utley’s central contention that Tory governments must endeavour to create a sense of national unity and harmony. How will Britain do this in what is now a multinational, multicultural state in a globalised world? The economist Dani Rodrik has argued that in today’s world a trilemma has emerged which cannot be escaped, in which countries must choose between democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration because it is impossible to have all three at the same time. The more you integrate your economy into the world, the less democratic sovereignty you will have over the material interests of your citizens. But the less you integrate into the global economy, the less efficient your economy will be, leaving your citizens poorer.

In some sense, Brexit is Britain’s answer to this trilemma, choosing sovereignty over integration. But, as we have seen, the trilemma does not go away, only emerges in different forms. What will be the Tory answer to these 21st-century dilemmas? The Tories have shown they can win General Elections: have they still got a philosophy of government? Right now, the answer is no.


Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

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Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago

The Tory Party has sold out all this century and is a weedy unprincipled Quisling to the all powerful EU legacy Progressive State. Here is a useful checklist of the conservative values the silent majority expected a Tory Party to believe in. See how many they do…. The Nation State, democracy and sovereignty. Belief in and support for private enterprise and wealth creation. Taxation that incentivizes risk and entrepreneurship not Brownite redistribution. A small neutral civil service which goes to work. Control of our borders and controls on migration to protect broken public services. Anti welfarism and the spread of benefits in a culture of entitlement. Strong defence forces. Resistance to the new progressive ideologies of DEI identitarianism and fanatic Net Zero climate alarmism. Determination to reform the NHS and the Equality Laws which are warping an imposed multiculturalism. Tories are hostile to rule by diktat and coercion and the failed socialist dream that a Big State should impose itself further in our socio economic life. Ever since Cameron, the non nasty Wole Fake Tories have turned their back on ALL these basic principles. All. They suck greedily on the teat of the failed Progressive ideology, hence the value free aimless technocratic nonsense of Sunak. Quislings and fraudsters, they have chosen the path of self destruction. The silent majority await the revival of a party which will take on the failed 30 year Progressive New Order, not sustain it.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

An excellent synopsis of what has become of the once respected Tory Party.
If I may make one addition there are far too many what we used to call SPIVS in the Party. One only has look at so called “honour list “ and even worse the House of Lords.
Then there is the utterly shameless profiteering over the COVID fiasco.
I was not an enthusiastic believer in the Ancient Greek idea of Physiognomy, but now I have my doubts.
Historically England has been through many such crises but someone always appears to save the day. This time I think we need another Cromwell*, not so religious as the first, but certainly more violent.

(*Oliver not Thomas.)

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
6 months ago

A contemporary biographer, writing of the Lord Protector shortly after his death, said that he was by-and-large well-meaning, but when he had eliminated all his opponents he couldn’t resist the temptations of power.
If you visit Hampton Court Palace you won’t find any memory there of Cromwell using it as a weekend residence for himself and his family. One of his daughters was married there. It seems that the guides are unaware of this.
Cromwell opposed the enclosure of common land but from within the establishment. The Commonwealth governments were always worried about their legitimacy, long before democratic mandates were thought of. And they were largely ineffective. The ambition of their principal foreign policy, the Western Design, far outstripped the country’s military capacity. Not unlike that of today.
The state of the Tory Party and indeed the country itself is better gauged, not from Sunak, but from Liz Truss. Her exhortation at the Tory Conference to ‘unleash your inner conservative’ is like unleashing a Dodo from a glass case in a museum and expecting it to fly.
If the Tory Party is stuffed it’s because it’s own taxidermists have done a good job, and a very good job of frustrating the people’s priorities. The animal just needs to be mounted in a glass case in a museum.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago

It’s a mixture but the good stuff is not rising to the top for some reason. If they did they would have a lot of opposition from within I think, similar to what Liz Truss endured.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

I think this is the fundamental issue with the Tory Party currently. In the haste to ‘modernise’ under Cameron, the underlying values of Conservatism were sidelined. 2010 and 2015 witnessed an influx of MPs like Sunak, who were anxious to embrace globalism, partly for their own career reasons, one suspects.
The only hope for a future Conservative Party may be for it to split, allowing ‘Progressive’ Tories to reunite with their soulmates, the LibDems.

charles pickles
charles pickles
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

I believe the Conservative Party is just unable to alter the direction of travel set for this nation of ours by the grip of the Civil Service and its equivalent in the local authorities under the egis of the former Blair and Brown administrations. Those two, coupled with the subsequent increase of leftist ideologies in the wider leadership of the nation’s institutions, did set a challenge that today cannot be broken unless by disobedience and ultimately force.
In parallel with the march of the globalists, and the ever-increasing power being sloughed off to the United Nations, especially with the unchallenging of its principle edicts under the Agenda 2030 and WHO newly to-be-acquired powers, the western nation concept will become voided. The values of Conservatism that appertain to the nation have been well spelt out in this and many comments, as has their burial.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

How do I get to live in your alternative universe?

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

You have a point about Conservatives splitting.

But no, the Lib Dems aren’t soulmates of moderate conservatives. Lib Dems aren’t supporters of business, they hold their noses while holding out their hands for the money it brings for public services. They haven’t got a clue how to create wealth themselves.

Moderate right leaning folk are younger and aspirational. They want fiscal prudence but aren’t socially Conservatives. Their children a grandchildren have influenced them. They know there is no rowing back on globalisation, we’re all connected in Internet timed. I see the right dying off, especially if Brexit doesn’t yield quick results.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

I think she means progressives as people like Sunak and those wokelike people in the tory party who would have a lot in common with the Lib Dems and the globalists. The other sort is what we need in this country who are more like the Reformists.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

I could agree more and have been watching the slow destruction of the Tory Part since those absurd days of that ‘matinee idol’ otherwise known as Anthony Eden.

As to Cromwell I was unaware that one his daughters was married at Hampton Court! I wonder if Lucy Worsley knows that?
Additionally the exhumation of Cromwell’s putrefying body and subsequent gibbeting of it at Tyburn, must stand as a very low point in the History of England.

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Tony
Tony
6 months ago

You cannot have a Cromwell when we already have democracy. We need different weapons here not violence.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Perhaps Thomas would be a better choice for your good self? He did at least sort out the Church.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Do we have democracy or merely the illusion of it?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
6 months ago

No Charles. What has happened to the Tory party is a reflection of the nation at large. It is fundamentally unwilling to make hard choices. Anyone can complain (it is cost free) but the next leader is free to provide the nation with hard choices…see how he/she perform in the next election.
BoJo was/is a charlatan, a pathological liar, an immoral man unfit for high office but he was/is right about “cakeism”…

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeremy Smith
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

With hopefully an end to the Monarchy

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Agreed, and in fact I do find ‘sausage/fat fingers’ an embarrassment it must be said.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

If he wasn’t royalty I would be checking the hospital records to see if he had been swopped at birth.
He has never been anything but an embarrassment but he seems blithely ignorant of this fact.
He is also ignorant of the fact that he should not be expressing views publicly or even privately

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Top comment – many thanks. My only query is this: do we really imagine that the process of breaking and replacing the Tory party will take us to a better place? After all, an important conservative insight reminds us that once battle is joined, plans are out of the window. I foresee the following mess:
We break the Tory party, Starmer triumphs; there is no coherent or united opposition; he lowers the voting age, increases indoctrination in schools (de facto abolishing the private sector), uses the recent “safety” act to repress free speech and naturalises as many illegal migrants as he can, only placating the red wall with a two hundred K cap on further migration which is – of course – no cap at all.
The result? An accelerated shift of Britain to a mix of basket case and neo-communist boot camp. Meanwhile, “Reform” or “Reclaim” or “Brexit” or “UKIP” or any one of these fringe, protest vehicles voices ever more elaborate denunciations to a diminishing audience of pensioners at private gatherings.
What we must remember is that our system is designed to push protest into the long grass. When the Liberal party fell between the wars, Liberalism fell with it – until Mrs Thatcher restored it some fifty years later. Breaking the Tory party will be – in the same way, and inadequate as it is – an own goal for the right.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I wholly share your anxiety about the future and how dreadful a Starmer regime will be. The problem is that even now Rishi has not grasped the scale of the danger. The CCC Net Zero diktats are by and large untouched and he has proven a Treasury Orthodox slave in smashing us with taxes to protect what matters most to the Progressives; the well being of their State. Over half the Tory MPs are wet Lib Dems, proudly woke like that disaster May. A majority no longer believe in Conservative values! They despise Thatcher, love the Big State, the monstrous broke NHS, lockdown and Net Zero. They are a weak adjunct to the permanent ruling progressive Blob and this is why they deserve punishment by Tory voters. But it will be phyrric. I agree also that Reform are too flinty and marginal still to lead a resurgence of the Centre Right. There just are not enough good footsoldiers in politics anymore. The whole point of the Blairite/EU revolution was to marginalise parliament party politics and the electorate itself. I fear only a convulsive crash will shatter this overpowering New Order.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Points all taken, bar the last. I do not share the revolutionary faith that convulsive crashes, any more than wars, lead to anything good. So what to do? First, Reform should identify the appalling wets (that grotty creature Baker comes to mind) and field candidates against them and them alone, among Tories. Second, it should start selecting candidates now, so that it can stump the streets for at least five months – supposing (given the dearth of good foot-soldiers) it can muster them. Third, it should make common cause, below the radar, with any surviving authentic Conservatives in parliament. That way, we might crumble the current Tory mess without breaking the party itself; we might avert the disaster of a Labour majority or even a Labour government; and we might open a narrow path towards escape from the dark future which certainly awaits us if we carry on along the paths which the left has laid out for us.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

A crash most certainly is not the ideal medicine. I simply cannot see how party politics and the ballot box can dislodge the Progressive New Order. Brexit was a one off event which they did all they could to Trump and overturn (thanks Keir). It has been hardwired into our constitution (supreme court/Human Rights/NMI Regulatory Machine and is deeply entrenched thanks to 25 years of progressive laws. The logic endgame of the Uniparty’s pathological misrule (no cheap housing no cheap energy no cheap food) IS a crash, though Taiwan, Ukraine or some shadow banking crisis could well be the trigger. But failing those horrors, I am sympathetic to your view. A Tory revival in opposition is NOT guaranteed. Once Keir’s mask drops and we glimpse the nightmare his nasty identitarian party will inflict upon us, then Farage should initiate a pact as he did to see off the deranged Corbyn, then demand the purge of the Lib Demmy Wets and more. If Reform stand, I fear Starmer wins.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

All fair points, as ever, but surely the most salient of them all is that the “progressivist” establishment is now as safely entrenched as was Protestantism by the end of the sixteenth century. We, the “Catholics” of the situation are faced with no prospect of either restoration or revival, so we must choose the least offensive policies on offer. That, I put it to you, is the current Tory version of the “progressivist” state. Anything else just plays into the hands of the “Puritans”. The damage is already done, scream the “Recusants” over at “Reform” – but no it is not. Peterborough Cathedral still had much pre-Reformation beauty before the Civil War; no such ornamentation survived in its aftermath. So let’s go for the half-pint which remains to us, eh? No hoping for the recovery of lost glories, for that way we will certainly lose the last glories available.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

You seem to forget that there has been 13 unbroken years of disastrous Tory rule since the “Blair/EU revolution”. You guys are head in the sand berserk. And that other guy who talks of Starmer using the “safety” act, a Tory piece of legislation, is another fool.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Well spoken. If we can do that in our politics we will be getting somewhere, but I am afraid that the Tories are split with themselves and have shown that they do not believe in your stated policies enough to push through, speaking as a party of course as there are some who fit your bill but certainly not all. Methinks those are careerists or have lost their way and have no thought of serving our country.

Last edited 6 months ago by Tony
Dominic English
Dominic English
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

The Tory Party can’t be revived. It has doomed itself for many of the reasons you describe. But there are many more, here is an entertaining checklist of some of them. It’s a fun read. And a depressing one. https://open.substack.com/pub/lowstatus/p/the-tory-party-has-doomed-itself?r=evzeq&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
6 months ago

Hi Dominic
Love the LSO by the way!

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Entirely right. How they dare to call themselves ‘conservative’ I simply don’t know. There’s nothing conservative about them and has not been for decades now. I hope they get wiped out, totally meltdown at the next GE, only then, perhaps, will a genuinely conservative grouping begin to emerge. I sincerely hope so, the hour is getting late, if we don’t begin to turn things around soon the damage to our precious (and only) homeland may be irrevocable, this is existential.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

What an absurd comment (it explains the 134 up votes).
What is this EU legacy progressive state that you speak of? EU is responsible for (as per the article) the tax policy that doesn’t differentiate between individuals and families. My tax take (c.50% in total) is the same as when I was single (now I am married with 2 kids and a wife that stays at home). Why is German tax system (favors families) different? Or may be you mean the NHS structure?!
Strong defense – how much more are you going to spend? No more empty words (as per your comment)! Many Tories want to double the defense spending as % of GDP. That will mean another £60 billion more a year…SHOW ME THE MONEY! Who/what are you taxing? Are you going to shift the money from what section of public spending? NHS? Pensions? Or may be it will come from the Levelling Up budget?!
The silent majority simply doesn’t exist. And the base of the Tory party (the “real” people apparently) gave us Truss and BoJo.
Aside from the usual absurd cliches that you roll out there is no hard choices in your comment. To govern is to choose and the Tory Party refuses to make the hard choices because the British People will not vote for them. It should be obvious to anyone by now…but not apparently to you.
But hey let’s blame BBC, Guardian, EU…and of course me!

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeremy Smith
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As Charles said an excellent synopsis. I would add that I am disgusted with the Party setting up the Counter Disinformation Unit regarding Covid. They are shutting down any debate on the mRNA vaccines despite some brave UK Doctors warning of all the complications with the Technology. Switzerland has dumped theirs. Germany following suit. What is Sunak doing? Building a vaccine factory at Harwell Oxfordshire for Moderna
Andrew Bridgen’s concerns on the ongoing excess deaths falls on deaf ears to Sunak. He has also separately raised the issue of the WHO’s power grab in May when they will take control of the next pandemic that will accidentally leak from another GOF lab somewhere. Hardly a Conservative in sight as were Labour at his presentation. What is going on with our Parliamentarians?? Most are rotten to the core.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago

Brexit was the enabler. We just need a set of U.K. politicians prepared to enact common sense “small c” policies.
I suspect that when the Reform party destroy the Conservative vote at the upcoming election, the ground will have been be laid for a 2029 revival of old conservatism.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Barton
John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Possibly, the problem is that in doing this, the holy grail of the British Left may have been achieved, namely splitting the Right in England (it’s the English vote specifically that makes the difference here). Once that’s done, a majority conservative electorate will keep electing left-wing governments.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Splitting the right is not the same thing as splitting the Tory government.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

No, it’s the same as making sure the Tory party ends up fighting the LibDems for third place.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

That is a likely scenario but there are a number of good people in the Conservative party that I hope will still get in, even as an oppostion voice. In the same way I do hope Reform is able to not only take from the useless Tories but from the useless Labour MP’s as well. Perhaps too early for a Reform government but I do hope they will get enough seats to be a serious voice in the government. We may see a period of more loony laws concerning Zero carbon and other things but I hope that freedom of speech will survive and not be sacrificed to the globalists.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

As Charlie Munger ( a very smart man with a long track record) pointed out “common sense” is very uncommon.
Public policy can not be based on the mythical “common sense” of the people.

Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago

THE YEAR CONSERVATISM FAILED? 2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 …. Since Osborne and Cameron’s scary monsters Brexit strategy failed (having done no preparation for losing whatsoever) and both flounced off to make more money, Toryism has serially failed in every possible way. May got it utterly wrong from the second she arrived especially on Brexit, Johnson bareley even pretended to be a Tory in the first place, Truss’s heart was in the right place but she wasn’t up to the job (neither was Johnson it has to be said) Finally Sunak and Hunt put the tin lid on things.

So 10 years then of no vision at all for Conservatism – rampant wokery and surrender of all our public institutions as well as social policy and transport policy to the Far Left, record spending, record size of the state, record levels of taxes, record immigration both legal and illegal, green rubbish coming out of our ears contributing massively to the cost of living crisis as well as being no small part of the ongoing war on the motorist, no serious attempt to do anything with Brexit which was always borderline to start with but did have some advantages that could be taken, had we bothered.

Utterly pathetic. And now they want our votes?

Last edited 6 months ago by Tom K
Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

The trouble is what else is there to vote for apart from Reform which are still a baby party who have not yet tasted power?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

And they never will.

Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Reform will never take power but I’m happy if they assist in the destruction of the current arrangement of the Right – we need a clearout of frauds and time-servers. The coming election is lost but it’s highly unlikely the Comrades will hold it together and every likelihood of a complete meltdown when lefty spending plans hit cold reality. Supposedly Johnson’s win in 2019 was that realignment, but he completley and utterly wasted the opportunity. That must never be allowed to happen again.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

Yes it was quite a wasted opportunity by Johnson. The people quite obviously wanted it.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

I’d argue the Tories failed way back in 2009, by failing to advance a proper alternative to Crash Gordon’s fiscal response to the banking crisis and the subsequent recession. It is because Cameron/Osborne blinked at that moment that the country was left stuck with a more-of-the-same policy direction that was part of what led to the financial crisis.

I well recall the debate on the fiscals in the run up to May 2010: the spending difference in year one between the Labour and Tory manifestos was a mere £12bn. Crash Gordon memorably embarrassed himself by describing that £12bn as being “taken out of the economy”, which made most people of intelligence shake their heads with amusement, but either way the real point was, of course, that there was no significant difference between the Tory plan and the Labour plan. The insignificant difference was still called “austerity” of course, but what it really was, was a very slightly lowered rate of expansion in the size and funding of the public sector.

In truth of course, there has been a significant austerity in Britain since 2010. It is an internal devaluation – ie real wage cuts – and it has been borne almost entirely by the private sector. Not just in falling real wages, but in rising house prices and taxes, collapsed pension and savings returns, and public services are stretched thinner over a growing-too-fast population.

The point I’m getting to is that supply-side reform has been the answer to a growing set of problems for at least twenty years in this bloated, useless, overgoverned-but-still-out-of-control, peculiarly-British socioeconomic mess. And until that nettle is grasped, everything will keep getting worse.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
AC Harper
AC Harper
6 months ago

From Wikipedia:
In the sport of cricket, a nightwatchman is a lower-order batter who comes in to bat higher up the order than usual near the end of the day’s play. The nightwatchman’s job is to maintain most of the strike until the close of play (remaining in overnight after the end of the day’s play, hence the name) and so protect other, more capable batters from being out cheaply in what may be a period of tiredness or in poor light at the end of the day, and then again the following morning when the batters have not yet ‘got their eye in’, or when the early-morning conditions may favour the bowlers. The theory is that losing two top-order batters in quick succession would be worse than losing one top-order batter and a tailender.
I believe that Sunak is the ‘lower-order batter’ put in to ‘protect the Conservative Party in the bad light period before the next General Election. I believe that Starmer is a nightwatchman too, put in to guide the Labour Party through its period of ideological schism.
Short of some unexpected ‘events’ that means the major parties are both fronted by players who are not expected (and perhaps not allowed) to be adventurous and ‘fix’ stuff, but only keep the game going.
The idea is that more capable people will emerge to lead, but I seen none in the current teams. The electorate deserve better.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

There are still some good batters in the Tory team but they are not allowed to bat for some reason.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
6 months ago

The Tories stopped being conservative years ago. CCHQ has a lot to answer for. It went for diversity recruitment. It hired Lib Dems. It went for Big Government, deficits and debts, Climate Twoddle, Gender madness, no frontiers. It is riddled with people who believe the nation state is the problem and the cure is supranationalism. It is so used to sailing under a false flag that it can’t remember what it stands for. Not least, it has lost control to the Blob, and clearly has no intent on using the sovereignty regained by Brexit. The Tories are heading for 8% of the vote, what they achieved in spring 2019 European elections. That is their base level. They’ll be lucky to achieve that.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

100%. Empty visionless Fakes who have detached from and have no faith in the core values of provincial/non metro England and the silent conservative majority.

William Shaw
William Shaw
6 months ago

Whatever principles underpin this government they are clearly NOT conservative… not even close.
Both the government and the Civil Service are infested by EU loving quislings.
Vote Reform.

Last edited 6 months ago by William Shaw
Michael James
Michael James
6 months ago

For the political class, holding office is all that matters. As for ideas, unlike in the United States, Conservatives have none, so wokery has won by default.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

It hasn’t won in my family nor in my circles. I suspect it also has not won in the silent majority even though it has partially won in the government and in a lot of Schools and Universities and I daresay in the State sector.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

The “silent majority” is of course neither…

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
6 months ago

Rodrik’s trilemma is finding the least-worst trade-off between “sacrifices” in democracy, sovereignty and economic integration. But that still gives Tory politicians scope to make a difference. In particular, they could have made a start on tweaking the UK’s dysfunctional welfare system and they should have decided which of the dysfunctional international treaties and conventions are still in the UK’s best interests.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago

In terms of “making a start on tweaking the UK’s dysfunctional welfare system”, i guess the term “Universal Credit” must have passed you by?

That’s not to say the policy wasn’t rolled out in a typically cack-handed way, but at least the principle of “credit where it’s due” might be applied Peter.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steve Murray
R Wright
R Wright
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Consolidating different dysfunctional systems into one dysfunctional system means little. Millions were spent on a functionally pointless change. Benefits for the working age should have been shredded over a decade ago.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

You’re missing the point. PP referred to “{making} a start” which the UC system attempted to do. I’ve already made reference to it’s flawed nature so your post was unnecessary.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I have been on a jury where the criminals were receiving unemployment benefit and social care from social workers and used the freetime to engage in their crimes against society. In this way the state is financing crime.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

UC firmly cements in place the existing welfare benefits scope. Tackling one or two small benefits received by a few hundred thousand is feasible. Tackling a single benefit doled out to 6 million people is going to face unprecedented protest. Half of all families would be affected by tinkering with UC.

The bind created by UC shouldn’t be a surprise. The Tories didn’t dream up universal credit. It was an idea with its roots in Blair’s second term, and the civil service supported its development and rollout. All opposition to UC was performative.

UC is the perfect example of how the Tory Party offers no alternative to Labour.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago

Certainly not treaties with the disfunctional UN though who act as if they want to rule the world.

Robbie K
Robbie K
6 months ago

Article totally nails Sunak’s underwhelming tenure, which has been the most disappointing period of Conservative rule in a generation. He is well intentioned it seems, but utterly flacid, about as inspirational as a plate of jelly – his one curious achievement being that he has somehow made Starmer look more ministerial than himself.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

He only looks that way. Deception seems to be a weapon in politics.

Douglas H
Douglas H
6 months ago

Thanks – a well-written and stimulating article

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
6 months ago

“Here was Sunakian Blairism, where what matters is what works.”

This is how we are characterising Blairism now, is it?

Tom Bowers’ account of the Blair years is largely about how the levers of power were grasped, and were found to be unconnected to anything.

Looking back it seems as if we just bimbled along with a Brit-pop soundtrack and a corrupt clown at the helm. A great decade for arms manufacturers and UK-bound migrants, though.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

This is how we are characterising Blairism now, is it?
I’d say it’s more how Blairism characterizes itself, whether or not it’s actually true.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
6 months ago

Envision a future Great Britain that combines time-worn Judeo-Christian values with a focus on technology and space exploration, while aligning with traditional conservative principles, we see a nation that reveres productive tradition (but isn’t afraid of change), champions individual responsibility, and fosters robust economic growth through technological innovation.

In this vision, Great Britain rekindles the spirit of exploration and adventure of the Age of Discovery, an epoch marked by a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, and a deep respect for the institutions and traditions that have long been the bedrock of British society. These values form the moral compass guiding the nation, ensuring that progress and innovation are pursued with a sense of duty, honour, and a commitment to the greater good.

Economically, this future Great Britain prioritises free-market principles, recognising that a competitive, unencumbered market is the most effective engine for innovation and prosperity. Government policies favor entrepreneurship and the growth of businesses, both large and small. This approach not only leads to job creation and economic stability but also positions Great Britain as a global leader in emerging technologies.

The cornerstone of this vision is the nation’s investment in technology and space exploration. Inspired by an emphasis on progress and exploration, Great Britain commits to being at the forefront of technological advancements. Space exploration is seen not only as a pursuit of knowledge and discovery but also as an opportunity to inspire national pride and foster a sense of unity and purpose.

In this vision, the emphasis on technology and space exploration is also a strategic choice. It positions Great Britain as a key player on the global stage, capable of influencing international policy and economics, and ensuring national security. By leading in these high-tech industries, Great Britain also secures its energy independence and sustainability, crucial aspects for long-term prosperity and stability.

Education and skill development are vital components of this vision. The education system is reformed to combine traditional values with a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), preparing generations for the challenges and opportunities of a technologically advanced future.

In summary, this vision for Great Britain is one where enduring values guide modern aspirations. It’s a nation that respects its past while boldly embracing the future, championing free-market principles, technological innovation, and national pride. This forward-looking Great Britain is a leader in global technology and space exploration, underpinned by a society that values hard work, personal responsibility, and the preservation of traditional institutions.

Benjamin Trenerry
Benjamin Trenerry
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jobs

Great. Where do we sign up?

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jobs

Sadly we are losing the time worn values and the technology in such cases can be used for ill as in China which is becoming the monster of the east.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
6 months ago

It’s an interesting time politically.

There seems to have been a sudden flash of realisation in the public consciousness that every single government we’ve elected since 1997 has effectively been exactly the same thing.

Everybody could justifiably feel sneakily pleased or incredibly pissed off about this. And the public at large appear to have taken the decision to be incredibly pissed off.

So we have a population which is politically volatile and angry, and almost universally in a mood for radical political change. But of course, we don’t all want the same sort of radical political change.

I think we are on the cusp of politically interesting times. And possibly a very interesting general election.

I am going to start studying the bookies for some outside odds… Time to place a daft bet or two I reckon.

Last edited 6 months ago by Albireo Double
Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
6 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I would suggest we prepare for 3 general elections over the next 5 years, this spectacular political shenanigans going on in Westminster is not going to be resolved by 1 general election.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

Labour winning a 100 seat majority next year will resolve things very nicely!

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I don’t know whether I am going to laugh or cry after the GE.

Liakoura
Liakoura
6 months ago

“This, though, is exactly where the Tory party finds itself once again, so desperate to avoid handing power to the various groups of lunatics that have formed on its Right that it has stopped thinking about what it actually believes.”
One of the best articles I’ve read on UnHerd and one that reminds me of the dilemma that faced Blair before his 1997 general election victory, albeit that then the ‘lunatics’ were on his left.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago
Reply to  Liakoura

Unfortunately the lunatics currently inhabit both ends of both main parties.
Sadly, the middle isn’t much to write home about either …

Last edited 6 months ago by Ian Barton
Mike Downing
Mike Downing
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Flabby in the middle and too pointy at either end. That reminds me of a ….
(answers on a postcard please).

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

An overindulged unfit for purpose army?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Precisely!

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago

“Sunak’s assessment was revealing. By using this marker, he was dismissing the premierships of not only John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but also those of David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Liz Truss in which he had served. In effect, Sunak was declaring the last successful prime minister Margaret Thatcher.”

Sunak may not be the man to revitalise society and the economy, but he does at least appear to understand that this is what needs to be done, and he does understand that what’s being revitalised is the same thing that decades of managerialist centrism has been undermining. The Labour Party is already failing before it’s even in office, with Starmer’s desperate attempt at an heir-to-Blair strategy, but this is going to be doubly destructive because not only does Starmer not possess the stomach for it, Blairism is part of the problem now, not the solution. My conclusion is that Britain isn’t getting fixed before 2029, and possibly not even then.

“A trade border has been erected within the country and trade deals are signed that seem to actively put British producers at a disadvantage.”……….”The economist Dani Rodrik has argued that in today’s world a trilemma has emerged which cannot be escaped, in which countries must choose between democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration because it is impossible to have all three at the same time.”

I dispute this. The trade deals that are put in place disadvantage UK producers simply because they import from regimes possessing a regulatory advantage. This apparent example of the trilemma later described is not in fact such a thing: it’s simply the action of markets. Market forces are not always sympathetic to democratic choice, but that doesn’t then lead to the conclusion that we can’t be sovereign, democratic and market-focused at the same time – or, at least, that this trilemma is something new and emergent in recent times. We had ths same issue in the 1980s when Thatcher was blamed for destroying the UK’s coal mining industry, but what actually was happening of course was simply that a unionised workforce had made UK coal several times as expensive as imported coal, and Thatcher was the first UK leader to have the guts to explain this to a set of vested interests that would have pauperised the whole country if she’d allowed them to.

And even then it wasn’t new: the Corn Laws 200 years ago taught us the same expensively-learned lesson. Deciding to adapt to the comparative advantages presented by global markets does not mean that one surrenders sovereign power or democracy: in fact, avoid the hard decisions for long enough, and a government will find itself booted out by the demos for foisting high prices on an increasingly-restive economy.

So back to UK producers. Are we surrendering democratic sovereignty if we decide that British farmers should be allowed to diversify and deregulate in order to compete with imported food? Or that we can only prove the opposite through the existing situation whereby they’re strangled with red tape to the point that the only people making money in the countryside are the bureaucrats overseeing the farms?

The argument reads like a secret Whitehall memo titled “How to keep ourselves in business while the economy is coughing up blood.”. The same things will fix these problems that always have fixed them before: get rid of unnecessary ways of making everything more expensive. We could start with energy, quite frankly, because if energy’s not cheap, nothing else is. Except human labour, of course, which is the one thing we don’t want getting cheaper.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

At last, a sensible comment.

Saul D
Saul D
6 months ago

These are my two big projects that I think the UK should go for. Use the parliamentary prerogative to make them happen as rapidly as possible (start within a year, complete in five years – be ambitious – industrialise the development).
High speed London orbital railway connecting Dover, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Felixstowe with a branch to Southampton – so linking all the primary UK transport hubs. That would energise everything outside the South East and shift the population centre, since the UK would no longer have to connect via London, using obvious spur connections to the north west, north east and west. Target of 1.5hrs from Felixstowe to Southamption (180 miles) and 20 minutes from one airport to the next.
Major nuclear investment probably using small modular reactors, probably sea-based to avoid enviro-nimbyism – eg sunken barges with a refloat option for movement to dry docks for maintenance (ie start with existing nuclear submarine technologies). Sell the technology since sea or ocean based reactors would be out of land-based reach with regards to political threats, and regenerate UK ports and steel production in the process. It would deliver Net Zero, but with genuine energy abundance, and be exportable as a product and service, which would drive down energy costs and increase national income.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
6 months ago

Tom’s writing continues to become more impactful. Also enjoy These Times with Helen Thompson. Thank you.

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
6 months ago

The present Conservative leadership are part of the Left of Centre Liberal hegemony. They think their party’s constituency is the liberal minded professional middle class like themselves. They are wrong.
This segment of the electorate increasingly see the Labour Party as their natural home.
In 2019 the Conservatives won through in what are considered traditional Labour areas because this electorate does not share the values of the progressive liberal agenda. The Conservatives leading the party have not capitalised on this breakthrough and have turned their back on the traditional Tory values shared by this group.
There has been an inversion in the constituents of the two main parties.
The Conservatives need to recognise this and focus on moral values and ethics. It is hearts not minds that resulted in Brexit and the 2019 Tory win.
Johnson showed his heart to the electorate but then used his mind to lead the country and that was liberal.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeff Carr
SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
6 months ago

Would add to the article Sunak unlike Cameron or May or Major post 92 has had a big enough majority in the HOC to attempt tough decisions. Would argue that the Major govt did implement policies that required nerve such as starting the Northern Ireland peace process and Ken Clarke was a very successful Chancellor.The Tories should have made Clarke their leader in 2001 .He opposed the Iraq War and with him the Tories could have won the 2005 election.Clarke was the Tory who could have got tough decisions through even with a small majority as plenty of Labour & Lib Dem MPs would have supported him even if there were Tory rebels

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
6 months ago
Reply to  SIMON WOLF

Clarke was the David Cameron of his day … he would have taken the Tories down the 1 Nation Tory route … as we have witnessed since Cameron was elected … fortunately Clarke was rejected as leadership material but sadly along came the calamitous decision to make Cameron leader

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

“Hush puppy Ken”, the leader who never was.
Thank heaven for small mercies!

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
6 months ago

An interesting analysis … but surely what we want a Tory Govt to embrace is ‘Small Govt’ and not the ‘Big State’ ?
Unless the Tories take that on board they are finished as a political force and so sadly will be our economy as it continues to decline under massive ‘State’ influence.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago

Most citizens would just like a govt that works, one that handles its basic functions adequately. Which side can do that? Which can avoid the urge to micromanage every aspect of human existence.

Some of this is our fault. We’ve become accustomed to believing that every issue, problem, or concern demands a govt response. How’s that worked?

In the States, the original premise of a limited central authority and more power at the state and local levels has given way to the largest federal government the world has ever seen. No one thinks it works but voters are convinced that their side can do it better. Better for who? The only beneficiaries are the donor class and the politicians themselves.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
6 months ago

“How to deal with the new reality of low birth rates, low growth and mass immigration”

There’s nothing inevitable about any of these. All that’s lacking is political will.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

There is an important and essential place for a Tory party in British politics. It’s collapse is not in the national interest.
The key point the Author highlights though is that the problems are not just Tory but the contradictions and clashes within Right Wing thinking. There is a fundamental dishonesty about these on the Right, borne out by the majority of comments already on this Article.
Fundamentally people are poorer and services they require in worse state than 14yrs ago. The Right offers little on what’s gone wrong and what to now do. It’s spends too much time looking for some Blob to blame. Utterly pathetic deflection.
Fact – UK has created no great companies in the last 15-20years. 50 firms that would have been FTSE top 100 are now foreign owned. The pace of this trend has quickened post Brexit. What a Brexit dividend.
The Right needs to rapidly grasp there is something fundamentally wrong with the investment culture in the UK that ‘ratchets in’ low to zero growth. This isn’t about tax cuts for the rich and other such ‘simpleton ideas, it’s much more about understanding why things like our biggest Pension funds now prefer to invest outside the UK. And then it’s about pondering why is it the Right doesn’t talk about this? Too fixated on culture wars to have noticed, or secretly ok with this as it’s beneficiaries are it’s own elite?

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Has the drive for Zero carbon got anything to do with Zero growth? I thought carbon was the substance that was reponsible for greening the planet.

Last edited 6 months ago by Tony
j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Deflection T.
The drive for Zero Carbon by 2050 does not explain at all why UK has gone backwards on world class companies, why we keep allowing national assets to be sold, or why our biggest Pension funds choose to invest elsewhere and not here.
Yet again I fear Right Thinkers do not wish to confront the fundamental problems with UK investment capitalism. I suspect alot is people don’t understand it but I also suspect some are doing v well secretly and want to deflect the blame.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
6 months ago

Britain is presently governed by a liberal-centrist parliamentary uniparty whose national executive (PM and Cabinet) has been further weakened by Scottish and Welsh devolution.
The country had presidentialised the role of for the better under Mrs Thatcher and for the worst under T Blair and his neoconservative turn. Hence there is tacit cultural approval for having 6 different Prime Ministers since the Brexit vote, less than 10 years ago.
The problem is that a constitutional monarchy persists and democracy has been damaged irreparably by having the de facto Head of State replaced by no-confidence manoeuvres (not even votes) in their party and then partly elected by their party membership in a process closer to a TV talent show.

Alan Day
Alan Day
6 months ago

And the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement institutions remain collapsed……

Last edited 6 months ago by Alan Day
Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan Day

Not sure that many people in Belfast care tuppence whether Stormont is open or shut.
We are governed from Whitehall without access to the party system that operates in England, Scotland and Wales, and we are used to it.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Are ‘we’ still paying these buggers in Stormont their full salaries do you know?

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
6 months ago

Every penny, I’m afraid. Nice “work” if you can get it, eh?

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
6 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Oh, and Happy New Year, Charles! Floreat domus!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

And the same to you Sir!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
6 months ago

Sunak is a good example of the talented, hardworking backroom boy, the perfect No 2. But such people need a charismatic, popular No 1 with a clear vision whom they can serve. Sunak simply doesn’t have what it takes to lead. The forces that propelled him into office should have recognised this but, clearly, they’re not as clever as they think they are.
As for Toryism, hard as it is to define, we can at least be sure that Nokes, Hammond, Mitchell, Gale, Stride and all the rest don’t qualify.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
6 months ago

Utley had a point or two, but all politicians can only work with the populace they’ve got. Brits want it all, and they want it now, with less effort than their forebears.

It’s not ideals we need, it’s policies which might just work, and a populace motivated to work, so I’m with the pragmatists. Do what works. Rishi might not be as charismatic as Blair, but he’s very, very clever. The same can’t be said of his own party critics.

Younger Brits, the ones who can really contribute, are never going further right. Realists work with what they’ve got. Rishi is a realist, as Thatcher was. There are still a few of us not brought up on Marvel comics and unicorns who realise how difficult it is to satisfy the public.

Steve Chapman
Steve Chapman
6 months ago

“Brexit is Britain’s answer to this trilemma”, you could also say that the EU is the other 27s answer to it, or at least attempt to mitigate it.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Chapman

Well no, the EU is a system that capitulates to the apparent demand to surrender sovereignty.

Steve Chapman
Steve Chapman
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Or believes that if some surrender is inevitable, it is best to do it by agreement with like minded neighbours rather than entirely on the terms of a superpower.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Chapman

Either way, it is not actually a solution to the trilemma problem.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Chapman

The people who say that you will own nothing and be happy are the same people who want to do away with sovereign states and employ a dictatorial world rule.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

I see several posters here mumbling on about the conservative “silent majority”.
Conservatives are neither silent nor in the majority, as will be very clearly demonstrated whenever Sunak decides he’s had enough and calls a general election.
All the Tories have left is grifters like Johnson, Mone and Farage. They will be obliterated and Britain will be free to prosper under a progressive Labour government. You can thank us later…

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
6 months ago

If only the Labour Party offered an alternative to this Tory socialist govt … sadly they have no radical thought … in their enthusiasm to ape Sunak’s Govt they will fail
Expect 3 general elections in the next 5 years.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

Dream on. The Tories won’t get a sniff for a decade. They’ll be too busy destroying themselves with the likes of Braverman or Farage at the helm while Labour steer the country to progressive prosperity.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago

I think Unherd needs to add a piss-myself-laughing emoticon for comments as stupid as this.

Tony
Tony
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I suppose we have to listen to all views without re-acting.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I think there are products available for elderly incontinent people, John – maybe you should ask your carers to look into those for you to avoid accidents?

Tony
Tony
6 months ago

Labour has never really prospered in my memory. Usually the tories have had to clean up after them especially Thatcher.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony

The Blair years delivered uninterrupted economic growth from 1997-2007 with low inflation and low unemployment. The global financial meltdown broke that run but I don’t think even Unherd readers can try to pin that on Blair and Brown.
It seems your memory needed to be refreshed – you’re welcome!