Saturday, 16 August 2008

Is social conservatism having a 'mini-revival'?

. Interesting piece in The Economist looking at the Conservatives recent attempts to re-brand themselves. It points to recent "unmistakable stirrings of social conservatism from the Tories" and asks whether this is a decisive shift and whether they will be able to chime with a largely still liberal electorate. This blog and others have often highlighted the contradiction between what has been said by the Conservative leadership and what is done either by it or most of it's MP's in the division lobbies especially. I think very much this is a case of 'true colours shining through' and more needs to be done to expose the contrast and there needs to be less googly-eyed admiration of the Tories and Mr Cameron himself in particular.

In the article The Economist cites crime as "a growing concern among voters"and speculates "there may be demand for tougher punishments." Here we see what is essentially the genesis of social conservatism; it feeds off fear of harm to oneself or of change in general. The more relaxed and secure people are the more permissive they tend to be willing to be because in general most people are inclined that way. Peoples level of toleration is also determined by individual experience.

This explains why somebody who is tolerant of, for example, homosexuality might be rabidly in favour of further curbs on civil liberties or hostile to immigration. Anti-terror laws are popular because people watch the news and being blown to bits scares people. However, few people form their views into a coherent narrative except those people who are politically active in some way. Most people 'float' and pick and choose their stances based on individual experience and individual fears that they may have; thus they are harder to pin down but easier to win by a politically opportunist party, something that Cameron's Conservatives no doubt are.

The Economist feels that this time might be more successful than they were during the farcical 'Back-to-Basics' Major days. It quite rightly says there is a real danger of being exposed and convicted on charges of hypocrisy but ultimately feels "the Tories’ flirtation with righteousness will not end badly this time". Apparently; "theirs is not a heavy-handed approach. It generally rejects compulsion in favour of exhortation". The reason for this should be obvious to anybody able to think; the Tories' are in opposition, not government so they are in no position to be 'heavy-handed' in the first place. A Conservative government will be a very different beast indeed and we need to be making that point; constantly hammering it home until the voters are positively bored of hearing it and want to scream WE GET IT.

Our other challenge is to develop a coherent narrative that combats this drift which finds itself resonating with the voters whose gut instincts are inclined in our favour.

4 comments:

Jock Coats said...

Certainly I'd say that Cameron's new choice for a deputy speech writer, Sam Coates, previously of ConHome, is a social conservative.

Darrell G said...

Same old Tories....I wouldn't go as far as they did in 97' with the 'demon eyes' which were stupid but there is so much scope to hammer them it is untrue....we are the only credible opposition to the Tories now and we should be acting as such....

Anonymous said...

Don't discourage them. Back to the good old Tory party of old: standing up for business cronyism, toffs and social conservatism. The sooner they do it, the sooner we can start preparing for government.

Darrell G said...

Fair point....preparing for power like we were in 92?