Sunday, May 15, 2005

In Praise Of Incoherence

Personally, I don’t think the Conservatives did badly for a party with only one policy. Conservative immigration policy got a lot of flak, but it was the one policy everyone knew in at least broad outline, while the Uberwets criticism of it is based mainly around the idea that the Party should have, y’know, done some stuff about hospitals, or maybe schools, or something like that. If the weasels didn’t like the emphasis on immigration, what policy do they think the Party should have pushed ?

The immigration debate reveals the real reason for the Conservative Party’s failure only in so far as it proves that the Left of the Party has decided to eschew actual policy in favour of spin. Contrary to what the BBC would have you believe, Conservative immigration policy was a vote winner – it just wasn’t enough of one to do the heavy lifting on its own. The one simple way for the Party to avoid accusations of being obsessed with immigration next time is to develop a whole bunch of other policies.

Nevertheless, there is a elephant trap here. While the Party needs to develop a coherent set of policies, the Party should avoid, at all costs, trying to develop an underlying philosophy. Modern Conservatism is the bastard child of a raging affair between Dagny Taggart and Juan Rico. That’s a strength not a weakness.

The Left seeks to persuade people to fork over their money, rights and even their lives against the prospect of a future utopia – not for nothing is Liberalism often compared to a religion. Indeed, the Left’s internecine wars are a perfect parallel with the Church obsession with heretics.

The Right doesn’t have this problem – there’s no great vision of how the world could be. Conservatism is about freeing people to follow their own dreams. If Conservatives themselves can’t agree about how the world should be, that simply underlines the central absurdity of the Liberal position – the idea that there exists a formula, the implementation of which will make this world a paradise. At least, the state of armed neutrality between social conservatives and libertarians keeps the Right honest.

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