Thursday, 8 November 2012

British and American conservatives need to calm down and stop being apocalyptic

I was on about my eighth “whither the Right” article this morning when I started eyeing my wrists and wondering whether my son had left any razor-blades behind when he left for college. It wasn’t the “guilty men” lists that depressed me – the Christian Right, social conservatives, Fox News, the Tea Party, Chris Christie, immigrants, Sandy… blah di blah – so much as David Cameron’s eagerness to claim that Obama’s victory proves that his brand of centrist, “modern”, Conservatism is the only one that’s going to win over the electorate. Wins, he told us, are done “in the middle”.


Romney lost because he was nobody’s idea of a strong candidate. He ran a largely lousy campaign. When he should have attacked, he retreated. He allowed himself to be recorded making stupidly brutal remarks at a private meeting. His privileged, preppy image went down badly in a demotic age and contrasted badly with Obama’s skinny cool black dude schtick. His immense wealth annoyed voters who associate the 2008 credit crunch with immensely wealthy white folk. The fact that he managed to annoy foreigners wherever he went – he even got right up Boris Johnson’s nose – suggested that he might inadvertently wind up embroiling the US in further disastrous military adventures abroad. Then some damned fool Republican politician made stunningly moronic remarks about pregnancy and rape which reminded everyone that Romney belonged to a frankly weird religious sect. To cap it all off, he proved he couldn’t make any connection whatsoever with Hispanic voters, let alone Blacks.

Despite all that, and despite the almost universal hostility of the media, and an evidently effective Democratic election machine, and a mega-storm materialising at the last minute which allowed Obama endless "caring" photo opps, Romney still managed to get 48.07% of the popular vote. True, three million fewer Republicans turned up to vote than in 2008, but Obama’s vote dropped by nearly 10 million.

Besides, American presidents have a habit of getting re-elected.

The idea that Cameron and the Tory modernisers should take heart from Obama’s win is ludicrous – because, let’s face it, Dave and Mitt aren’t that different. Cameron’s a privileged posh boy from a rich family who looks and sounds just like one of those bankers who screwed up in 2008. He comes across as too much of a Flashmanesque school bully to do empathy. He doesn’t connect with “ordinary people”, and he’s utterly useless with immigrants. Worse, he talks a lot about dealing with Britain’s debt, but has done nothing but increase it. He tries desperately to support socially liberal causes (he appears to have gays on the brain) but it all comes across as desperately unconvincing, as if someone’s feeding him the latest focus group data through an earpiece as he’s being interviewed. To make matters worse, his sneery, arrogant sidekick, Osborne, has one of those faces that simply demand to be slapped.

A strong, convincing, likable Republican presidential candidate able to put across a “shining city on a hill” vision (of which there hasn’t been an example for almost three decades) might very well have beaten Obama in those all-important swing states. A strong, convincing, likable, genuinely Conservative leader of the Tory Party might – just might – have a chance of beating Miliband in 2015. But just as Romney’s timid, “steady as she goes”, middle of the road, corporatist conservatism failed to motivate many of those who voted for McCain to get off their butts and rally to the cause, so Cameron’s timid, “steady as she goes”, middle of the road, don’t-frighten-the-Guardian-readers, corporatist brand of conservatism won’t win back all those who’ve defected to UKIP or those who’ve lost patience with party politics altogether: and many of the voters who turned out last time purely in order to get rid of Gordon Brown won’t, I predict, bother turning out just to keep lacklustre Lord Snooty in power.

Republicans and Conservatives need to concentrate on two things between now and their respective general elections. First, the Republicans need to find a credible, likable, normal candidate who isn’t mega-rich, give the impression they might have fired their mother for not producing enough breast milk, belong to a religious cult, or possess all the human warmth of a dead halibut. The Tories need to plan for a replacement for the woeful Cameron after their inevitable election defeat in 2015 – preferably someone who gives the impression they’ve shopped in supermarkets other than Waitrose, didn’t spend their schooldays beating their fag for failing to iron their copy of The Beano correctly, and who doesn’t act as if their parents put them down for a stint as Prime Minister at the same time as they put him down for Eton.

Actually, for both parties, that’s the easy bit. The really difficult thing is going to be figuring out how to neutralise the liberal media. The screamingly partisan behaviour of the American TV network news teams and the leading liberal papers appears to have been scandalous. Here the problem’s far simpler – the Tories need a strategy to stop the BBC pumping out undiluted Labour propaganda 24/7. The Tories have shied away from doing this for decades. The Party loses its temper and stamps it foot every now and then, but, in the face of public support for the corporation, retreats in disarray, inevitably sounding like petulant sore losers. There has to be a fightback against the MSM on both sides of the Atlantic  - because, where there’s been a public shift away from conservative values, the liberal media is as much to blame as left-wing school-teachers and Marxist university lecturers.

Personally, I don't think there's been that much of a shift. Cameron’s defeatist, fatalistic view that the public has irrevocably shifted leftwards across a whole range of political issues – that’s pathetic. On Europe, welfare, teenage pregnancies, abortion, law and order and immigration – despite the liberal media’s best efforts -  the public has been moving steadily to the right, only Cameron and his henchmen have been too fixated on keeping their coalition partners happy and too obsessed with the pointless task of winning over Guardian readers, they’ve failed to capitalise on the fact.

When something as dreadful as Obama's re-election happens, there's a tendency for the losers to get all apocalyptic. But now's the time for the Right to keep very calm, get very determined, do some serious thinking - and come up with sort of plan that saw Labour win three elections under Tony Blair (only with policies that help the country and don't actually destroy it).


  1. I'm not sure. You've nailed the inability of Romney to appeal to more than his own core support, all the more of a failure given that he was facing the weakest incumbent President since the Peanut Farmer, albeit that this one had ...ahem...broader appeal to the voter demographic. So yes. Weak candidate, agenda adjusted to follow trends, plus all the media bias etc.

    Bit isn't the real message from this election this? The US, founded on the rights and liberty of the individual, with a subtle Constitution which restrained the right of the Executive to interfere, is now drifting to our shores - an entitlement-focused, social welfare based, over-governed society, in which power is tightly controlled at the centre. As it always turns out, the power of the Congress to block this trend by withholding the budget and exercising other fiscal control leads to a Tammany Hall style fix in which neither the executive nor the electorate wins.

    The entitlement culture is engrained here. The electorate would rather rack up debt than face reality and so clings back on to our welfare nanny. I suspect that the US is about to go through a similar process and, being behind us, is about half way through the 60s/70s with Harold Wilson and Edward Heath in charge.

    1. I suspect America went through what we went through in the mid-70s at exactly the same time. Their left was almost as deranged as ours, their economy was disintegrating at about the same rate (albeit from a much higher starting point), and there were fears that the country had gone into irreversible decline, fuelled by ineffective leaders (Ford and Carter, as opposed to Heath and Callaghan), and their foreign policy was all over the place (I’m not sure Britain actually had a foreign policy at the time, except to ask for hand-outs). The Republicans had ditched any pretence of being right-wing – or even conservative – and it was assumed that Big State dirigisme was the only answer. Both countries eventually chose surprisingly right-wing leaders at the end of the decade who got both economies moving again, and reintroduced the concept of personal freedom, but they let the left continue the take-over of their respective cultures, which I’m convinced has led to many of our present problems.

      The main problem we both face is the sheer goofiness of young voters brainwashed by the Left. Here’s an excerpt from a scary piece on why Obama won by Gary Aminoff in American Thinker:

      “For the past several months, in my capacity in the Republican Party, I have been speaking at middle schools and high schools around Los Angeles. It has been very enlightening.

      I love engaging with children. Most of them are very bright and ask brilliant questions. The questions give me insights into what they are most concerned about. It also makes clear what they are taught -- by either their parents or their teachers, or both.
      To summarize -- children, for the most part, believe the following:
      a) Republicans care about only the rich -- the top 1% -- and don't care about anyone else.
      b) Republicans hate people of color and especially Latinos.
      c) Republicans hate gays.
      d) Republicans are racist.
      e) It is the government that provides jobs. (I have asked that question many times in classrooms or assemblies. "Who is it that creates jobs in America?" The answer is invariably, without hesitation, "the government.")
      f) Corporations are bad, and profits are very bad. Business shouldn't make profits; they should give any excess money they make to their employees.
      g) Taxes are good; they provide the money for the government to take care of people.
      h) Government should expand and take care of everyone in the country.
      i) America, rather than being a force for good in the world, has been a force for evil.
      j) Government has an unlimited source of funds. (When I ask, "Where is the government going to get the money to do all these things you want it to do?," the answer is "taxes.")”

      I think that’s saying what you’re saying and that the brainwashing started so long ago that voters under 35 here and there pretty much believe the same baloney as schoolchildren. And it’s truly depressing.

      Now, where were those razor-blades?

      Oh, hang on – remember Reagan and Thatcher and what a complete surprise they both were at the time, and how both countries came - temporarily - to their senses? Fingers crossed.

  2. Indeed. Before you deprive the blogosphere of one of its few intelligent outposts, reflect on the fact that in a world full of the sort of dull young people the American Thinker encountered, there should be space enough for Gron jr and other bright sparks to fill the gaps and do well.

    The period of US politics from late Nixon through Ford to Carter and beyond has always interested me. America lost its way, seemingly like we did, and then got it back very quickly, as you say in your last paragraph. Why and how? Now the Fulminators have apparently been mothballed, a loss on which SDG and I have different opinions, is there a book waiting to be written?

    1. Luckily, it turns out that Junior took all the razor-blades with him.

      I think Mark Steyn has probably written that book already - in fact, there's tons of books out there which, despite titles like "Liberal Assholes are Destroying America" and "Die, Scum-Sucking Leftist Scum" contain some interesting perspectives. For a more serious historical take on the issue, there's Steven F. Hayward monumental and brilliant two-volume "The Age of Reagan". But what I'd really love to see is a book that speaks to my own particular obsession, which is how to de-liberalise Britain and America's prevailing left-wing media, academic and public service culture - Reagan and Thatcher halted the contagion for a few years and managed to cure a few patients - but the sickness subsequently returned with renewed vigour and now appears to be a virulent, unstoppable pandemic.

      I'm ashamed that The Fulminators have taken such an extended break - I know how upset many of their fans are, and I suspect even their detractors are missing the opportunity to pour scorn on their largely derivative efforts. Maybe they need Cecil Ingram Bastardo to galvanise them into action.

  3. Cecil Ingram Bastardo10 November 2012 at 14:07

    Hey, ol' buddy, I'm real sorry and kinda ashamed that I've been a bit quiet, recent times. A deevorce, bankers and lawyers chasin' my tail...well these kinda things take a man's mind off his music. But I'll be back flat pickin' and singin' some time real soon, you bet yo' pants on that.

  4. Remember the rule? Keep it simple? US Republicans and UK Conservatives need to add voters? Cut excise duty on cigarettes. Simple.