Saturday 23 March 2019

BTL Fury May Not Be Representative

While Bill fixes his vid ...
One of the most important characters in literature, as in life, is the Common Man in Robert Bolt's Man For All Seasons.  This cheerful chap is not without sympathy for the 'principled' folk he encounters, but for himself steers carefully and instinctively away from controversy: and is certainly not willing to go to the stake for anyone or anything - even while hundreds of his countryman quite literally are.  We know, of course, that the Vicar of Bray hastily accommodates himself to whatsoever king shall reign (along with a high percentage of MPs); but the common man, in his own pedestrian way, is not so very far behind him.

In short: people prepared to hold to a doctrinaire position (that they may seemingly espouse most fervently) through thick and thin are very few and far between.  (How many of those outspoken libertarians who vowed the public smoking ban would never stick, have ever broken the new laws themselves?)  Human society probably depends for its cohesion on this trait.

I say it at the risk of losing a few virtual friends hereabouts because it's hard not to notice the fairly fervent tenor of a lot of BTL comments, here and elsewhere, that run approximately thus:  I will never, ever, vote for the Tories again, ever.  That's never.  D'y'hear me?    

Yes, we do, loud and clear.  But pause for just a moment's empirical input, friends.  Yesterday evening I attended the AGM of my local Conservative party.  (Why do you do that, Drew?  Because I'm conservative - clue's in the name.)  It was packed.  There was no rancour.  There was over an hour's Q&A afterwards, to the MP, the GLAM, the senior party functionaries etc.  Brexit was not in any way off limits.  The room was 99% for Leave (even though before R1 we were split 60:40), though individual nuances and caveats were many and varied.  I say again: there was no rancour.  Some rueful laughter at the thought of potentially needing to run a euro election, or even a GE, in the coming weeks.  But mostly concerned with the ordinary business of canvassing and signing up new members.

Because - and here's the thing - our local Party membership has gone up by about 30% over the past 12 months.

Just some empirical input ...



Anonymous said...

Why was there no rancour, ND? Political debate and one's own attitudes should not of course be governed by such a graceless, unproductive emotion; but there is a place for rancour, and it seems to me that the shambolic past 2½ years plus have been more rancour-inducing than most other political occurrences in my adult life. I too am (largely, with add-ons) conservative - which is why I haven't voted Conservative in a very long time - sorry, couldn't bring myself to it. And I get very irritated (not quite rancorous though) by the dinning reiteration from too many Tory loyalists that well, one really must vote Tory because they're bound to come good again and in any case look at that nasty mad Mr Corbyn waiting in the wings... Sorry, don't buy it. If democracy means anything, it means voting according to principle and conviction. And for me, the Tories blew it yonks ago. I think they're an absolute fuc*ing shower who should be pilloried en masse and have their bottoms spanked very rancorously with soggy rolled-up copies of The Guardian. Ooh, the shame of it...
I suppose I admire in a way that you, Nick, and apparently many others, can continue to prop up the Party - but only in the same way one admires (is that the word?) Theresa May's awe-inspiring melange of Don Quixote with Sancho Panza's donkey: it's politics, Jim, but not as we know it. She's off her head.
Christ Almighty, who does one vote for? been asking myself that for far too long.

Sobers said...

What Malcolm Stevas said. Life long Tory voter here, they won't be getting my vote again. Brexit is of course the big issue, they've f*cked it up royally. But the problem goes deeper than that - I've been voting Tory for several elections on the basis of 'the other guy is sh*ttier' for a while now, and I've realised that the Tories are not conservative any more. They're as bad as Labour were 20 years ago, if not worse. They're supporting all the identity politics b*llocks, trans this, Islamophobia that. We might as well vote for Corbyn and get this stuff quickly as vote for the Tories and get it slowly. Thats the only result of voting Tory, the speed of travel gets slowed a little, but the direction never does, we just slide to more State control, more State interference, less personal freedom, less freedom of speech, more police control of the public space. For f*ck sake the police are turning up on people's doorsteps to tell them to stop having legal ideas! Under a Tory government and they're all in favour of it. Well f*ck that for a game of soldiers. Lets vote for Corbyn, bring the whole thing down in heap and maybe something better might, just might crawl out of the ashes. Continuing to vote for the bunch of so-called Conservatives is no longer an option.

Jan said...

How heartening to hear your local Tories are now 99% leave. The Brexit debacle has served to entrench peoples' views and if there were to be another referendum I think there might be an even greater percentage leave vote than in the original referendum. Nigel Farage thinks so too according to his interview on the Today programme this am.

The current Tory party are a bit of a shower but if there were to be a general election I reckon half of them wouldn't even get reselected let alone reelected especially if the local branches have more members now. Anna Soubry has even gone of her own accord.

Politics is getting more interesting again and some of the SJW wet Tory policies may get quietly dropped.

DJK said...

Well yes, I suppose. In three years time the anger may have abated and I might vote Tory (only if they are not led by the truly awful Mrs. May).

But right now, Corbyn and the Commies sound better than the Tories. The woke identity politics and general incompetence comes with either party. Corby will do a lot of stupid stuff and attack British symbols wherever he can, but a bit of economic nationalism might actually be a good thing.

As much as I dislike the EU and think that we in Britain should be ruled by a British parliament, the present occupants of the HoC are doing their best to convert me to the view of the late Auberon Waugh who thought that the ideal government was one by an anonymous committee of Belgian bus inspectors. This was a view he formed after observing MPs close up as a parlaimentary correspondent.

And 'scuse ignorance but what does BTL stand for?

Nick Drew said...

DJK @ a bit of economic nationalism might actually be a good thing

we can withstand a bit of mercantilism: but it's what else McDonnell will do that matters - it will include irreperable damage on several fronts

hovis said...

Personally I don't see how social side apart, a conservative might go anywhere near the Conservative Party if beliefs are to inform actions.

As to Brexit, it has merely confirmed that we do not have a functioning system and trying to maintain it is a fool's errand. The power structures still hold power, but they will be ever more brittle, the trajectory toward their failure.

Indeed too few people have 'stones' anymore. As ND's musings points out they were always fewer than those that tacked to the prevailing wind. However their principles/stubbornness affected the windblown, not always individual actions but it cumulatively sets the mood. No Ridleys and Latimers today - people won't even resign even less put themselves in harms way for their beliefs.

DJK said...

ND: "... it's what else McDonnell will do that matters". But this is the claim that has been made about every prospective Labour government. Remember the Tony Blair devil's eyes poster in 1997? It was intended to convey that behind the public school manner and nice smile, TB was actually a savings-confisctating socialist devil. He may have been a lot of things, but not that.

I accept that JC wants to do a lot of harmful, stupid stuff. I just don't think he's actually competent enough to achieve any of it.

Anyway, surely no natural conservative can be happy with the present Tory party.

Nick Drew said...

@ happy with the present Tory party

certainly not

And, agreed there's not a lot in heavy-duty domestic policy - the things that need time and serious money - that a really radical minority government can actually do (though there is loads of nasty cheap interfering stuff in the gesture-policy line: and opening doors to immigrants "costs nothing" ...)

But (as said here many times before), with hands on the levers of power an actual marxist with a destructive bent can do things in foreign policy & security which aren't even vaguely difficult - stoke-of-a-pen stuff. You just need a bit of immagination

andrew said...

You just need a bit of immagination


Do you mean Gib / Falklands / Diego Garcia / Renounce nukes / Dismantle the commonwealth / abandon the dependencies

or something close to home like

Leave nato / re-unite ireland / nationalise the ralways / give scotland another referendum

Nick Drew said...

well obv not nationalise the railways ...

Bill Quango MP said...

iI can only say, that there came a point with Brown, where I despised him so much, I blogged and tweeted and trolled, and actually physically campaigned, anywhere and for anyone who would end his reign. Anyone. Lib Dems. SNP. Tory. Made no difference to me. All were allies in removing Labour.

I am not far from that point with the Tories. They alone had the power to make May do the right thing. They did not. The moment it became known she was running a Nixonian parallel government, inside the EU, she should have been removed.

The moment it became apparent that she had spent two years working out a deal that managed to infuriate leavers and remainers, she should have been cast aside.

How can someone spend two years on a deal that demands unacceptable concessions from the only pillar of your creaking majority?
How can she have annoyed everyone? Its almost impossible to do. yet she did. Still does. If anyting she has annoyed her own side even more in recent days.

I can't wait for her exit. And I'm on her team.
She is our national Mourinho.

Sobers said...

"Leave nato / re-unite ireland / nationalise the ralways / give scotland another referendum"

Leave NATO? Fine by me, I'm fed up with wasting my taxes on stupid excursions into other people's countries.

Re-unite Ireland: fine by me, I'm fed up with subsidising the Micks, Let the RoI do it instead.

Nationalise the railways? They're hardly shining examples of free market capitalism right now are they? More a Big State/Crony Capitalism amalgam that gives free markets a bad name. Better to let Jez waste time, money and effort nationalising them, then they'll go to pot, and maybe a real conservative government might privatise them in a way that works instead of the sh*theap system John Major gave us.

Give Scotland another referendum? Great, they might vote to f*ck off this time, instead of sucking on the English taxpayers for another few hundred years.

Where do I sign up to this lot?

andrew said...


A simple corollary of 52% voting for brexit is fairly widespread support for 'England first'.

I am sure all the pols know that, the interesting bit will be who weaponises it first.

E-K said...

The railways aren't privatised !

E-K said...

Give Scotland a referendum ? If they're serious about independence then they would allow the English to vote on it too.

E-K said...

Now that we know that the civil service runs the country there is nothing to fear from Labour.

Y Ddraig Goch said...

To borrow an old political line, "I agree with E-K"; except I think that in the case of Britain leaving the EU, it is worse than just the civil service - the entire "Establishment", was and is determined to make Brexit "go away".

I work for a company that has a strict "no politics" policy; the company doesn't support or endorse political parties and as employees we must never associate the company with any political activities of our own. Perfectly sensible. Except that, prior to the referundum, we all received a letter from the CEO telling us - at some length - to vote remain. So the CEO openly violated his own policy. In this environment I can't take the Corbyn/McDonnell threat seriously. I have no doubt that they want to do the kind of damage that ND describes and they would probably try - but as Brexit has demonstrated - they have no chance unless the establishment agrees.

Anonymous said...

In theory, I should be a Tory voter if it was as wide a church as they claim. I'm a small business owner, a property owner, a believer in small government (with caveats*) and a pro-capitalist. I'm also socially liberal, and recognise the primary responsibility of government is the general welfare of its citizens.

But I'm fed up of all the false dichotomies. Privatisation vs nationalisation, for example? Just look at public transport, let the commercially viable routes be open to competing businesses. If they're socially useful, but not commercially viable then it is to be handled by some layer of government, rather than get the subsidy chequebook out. It isn't hard if you're not an ideologue.

Maybe a bit of Corbyn would focus minds a little. And as I'm not a Unionist, I really don't care if Ireland reunites (solves the fucking backstop, eh?) or of Scotland goes its merry way. I'd wish them well, as I'm rather fond of Scotland (Ireland I've yet to grace with my presence, which is odd as I've gone much further afield.)

NATO has a degree of flexibility of we leave and rejoin (we all tolerated France sitting on its hands). So I see nothing they do that cannot either be fixed, or not be that problematic in the first place.

*I'd like to see a more layered approach. Someone in London is going to be about as well informed of the issues in places from Fort Inverness to St Ives as someone in Brussels. Surely truly scaling up from the local to the national, with relevant powers, isn't beyond British ingenuity? You may end up with more government out of it, but you'd have smaller, flexible and more dynamic layers for tackling issues, and with boundaries of what concerns each layer, and what they need to keep their nose out of.

Anonymous said...

ND - how worried are they that this will fracture the Tory Party for a generation? Or doesn't it matter if it fractures Labour too?

(I must admit to a strange new respect for JC - after all, he has a lot more t******s/people-whose-primary-loyalty-is-not-the-UK in his party than Mrs May has, and hers are trouble enough)

What really depresses me is that the turnout in 2016 was up about 7% of the electorate - a couple of million people who'd previously decided it wasn't worth voting had got up and gone to the polling station. It's as if our political class is determined to prove that they were right first time.

If the ballot box changes nothing we are in a new world. Not one I like the idea of.

Lord T said...

This is why I believe violence is inevitable. Not everyone is as passive as we are generally and it only takes a few who are willing to die, and kill just before that, to make changes. Look at the successes made by these people. Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams, all terrorists that won through violent means.

Many people in the UK are now coming around to the view that democracy is going. The 29th will confirm or deny that and then what option do these people see?

CityUnslicker said...

Interesting comments here. What we really need is the Tories to lose badly because then they will get it again in a period of reflection on the opposite benches and the current lot of losers will have run their course. Renewal.

The hard part is the current Labour lot are mental loons who will do much damage, there is no safe space. if the choice was Yvette Cooper there would be nothing to worry about, get labour in, let them faff about a bit and the Tories will be back in a decade or so with some fresh ideas and thinking (and to fix the economy).

But Corbyn, no way, I want my kids to a)grow up b) have some life chances. These could be seriously threatened with the likes of Diane Abbot making serious decisions about the Country for 5-10 years.

polidorisghost said...

What Sobers said.
How can a few years of Corbyn be worse than decades of this tory party?
If we don't get rid of them now then we never will.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"(How many of those outspoken libertarians who vowed the public smoking ban would never stick, have ever broken the new laws themselves?)"

Given that it is primarily the landlords that are fined for allowing smoking in their establishments, it would violate the NAP for a libertarian to do so. Why do you think the law was framed that way...?

And let's look at the Tories, shall we?

Pro-market? Nope—price-fixing energy bills (with the predictable outcome that my energy bill has rocketed this year, to the cap); stupid enough to discuss doing the same with rents.

Pro-free speech? Nope—true, the Coalition repealed Section 7 (although I only discovered that by chance), but all of the other bollocks remains in place.

Pro-law and order? Nope—the police remain politicised, and more interested in pursuing Twitter idiots than knife crime.

Pro-economy? Nope—Osborne's stupid bloody reforms on investment taxation have depressed investment.

Pro-business? Nope—witness the economically illiterate pursuit of the "Living Wage".

Pro-the working man? Nope—the working man voted to leave the European Union. And the working man is paying the highest ever levels of taxation.

Shall I go on? What, exactly, should we be voting Tory for, ND?


IcyPurplepants said...

Out of interest, am I right in remembering that it's now law that no more UK powers will be handed to the EU without a referendum?

Assuming we're not allowed to leave, which I've always believed to be the case, when is the next treaty coming?

We'll have to go through this all over again, until the EU decides to ignore a "No" vote, as seems to be their playbook...

Nick Drew said...

DK - 1. What, exactly, should we be voting Tory for, ND?

No advocacy here: I could readily add to your list. Was merely reporting upon the conservatism of myself (and others). If forced to make a case, I'd fall back on the entirely negative. Para 1 of the party's constitution when I first joined - Membership of the Conservative Party is open to all those who oppose Socialism and Communism

2. it would violate the NAP for a libertarian to do so. Why do you think the law was framed that way...?

oh yes, they do actually want compliance! - so they make it easy for you. Just like they told the Common Man that protestant bishops were heretics, so that burning at the stake was good for their souls (Sancta simplicitas ... see Hus / this old post). (Oh, well that's alright then ...)

There's always a 'reason' for compliance

Graeme said...

When the Conservatives were thrashed repeatedly by Blair they went away to reflect and chose a leader who was just like Blair. If Corbyn gets in next time what's the betting that the rump of the Cons will choose a Trot who looks like a geography teacher to lead them ?