Labour, Tories and the Big Society
Published in: Daily Mail
The Conservative Party looks like it may be heading for civil war.
Last week, its co-chairman Baroness Warsi hit out at those she described as the party’s ‘right-wingers’.
Their crime was to have complained, after the Tories came third in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, that the campaign had been deliberately scaled down to help the Lib Dem candidate.
Her remarks provoked fury because her disdain for these ‘right-wingers’ was seen to reflect the Cameroons’ all-too-obvious view that these are people they would rather like to bury in concrete overcoats at the bottom of the River Thames.
This impression has been exacerbated in recent days after more than two dozen Tory MPs rebelled over a Bill which Eurosceptic MPs believed further undermined Parliamentary sovereignty.
Because of the way he has behaved towards these rebels, David Cameron is now being compared to Flashman, the public-school bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
He reportedly subjected several of them to a four-letter onslaught. And in the Commons dining room, he offensively — and menacingly — asked the rebels’ leader Bill Cash if he was ‘still a Conservative’.
The implication by a Conservative Prime Minister that there is no place within the Conservative Party for those Tories who want to protect British sovereignty from being extinguished by the EU really is quite extraordinary.
But then, there is much excited talk among those closest to Mr Cameron about forming a kind of ‘coalition party’ to fight the next election.
This would redraw the political map and disempower the ‘right’ — who just happen to represent the values of millions of conservative voters — for ever.
Such arrogance is even more startling considering that, even after all the hugging of huskies and hoodies and hearts bleeding on sleeves for the NHS and the poor of the Third World, the Tories still didn’t manage to win a General Election it was deemed impossible for them to lose.
The Cameroons, however, think that was because they weren’t Left-wing enough. This is because their internal polling suggests that many voters thought they were still the ‘same old Tories’ who cared about no one but their own privileged class.
Such a conclusion about the public is both nasty and shallow. It tells us, first of all, that the only people the Cameroons care about are floating voters.
The support of core Conservatives is being taken entirely for granted. But why should they vote for a party that treats their opinions with such contempt?
And even among those who are not habitual Tory voters, ‘same old Tories’ may well mean merely that the Cameroons are still seen as untrustworthy, cynical and opportunistic.
Who can be surprised? The ‘Big Society’ is currently little more than a vapid aspiration. And one Tory election promise after another is being ditched. There is precious little sign of any restoration of the cultural glue that keeps a society together.
Even David Cameron’s promise to support and promote marriage is reportedly opposed today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
All of which makes the noises coming from Labour leader Ed Miliband appear -- superficially at least -- intriguing.
Mr Miliband is attempting to construct a new story for the Labour Party based on a fresh set of principles.
Yesterday, he staked his own claim to the ‘Big Society’ by identifying two things that Labour had got wrong. It had placed too much emphasis on crude market forces, leading to an increase in betting shops and nightclubs, as well as too much reliance on the State.
Eye-rubbing stuff indeed from ‘Red Ed’. For this was the language of ‘small-c conservatism’ — a distaste for the degeneracy that resulted from Labour’s mania for deregulating activities harmful to society, while at the same time disempowering the individual through big government.
Even more intriguingly, his ennoblement to the House of Lords of a hitherto obscure academic called Maurice Glasman appeared to be part of the same story.
For Glasman, director of the faith and citizenship programme at London Metropolitan University, promotes — in his own words — the values of ‘family, faith and the flag’.
In tandem with London Citizens, an alliance of faith groups, schools and trade union branches, he champions tradition and custom, and talks about the failures of state socialism.
What Glasman is advocating appears to be — on the face of it — a return to what used to be called ‘ethical socialism’, when Labour’s beliefs famously owed more to Methodism than to Marx.
That was when politicians across the spectrum shared the premise that society had to remain grounded in marriage and the morality of the Bible, and in bonds of duty to others and to the nation.
Now, of course, ‘family, faith and the flag’ are associated with the Tory ‘right’. As Glasman says, ‘The minute you mention family and faith, you are automatically considered to be reactionary.’ Indeed, the mere mention of ‘faith’ or ‘nation’ is enough to send the Cameroons for the smelling salts.
Glasman thus sounds more conservative than the Conservatives. So is this just some kind of political mirage shimmering before our bewildered eyes?
The answer is surely yes. For when you look a bit harder, Glasman’s ‘small-c conservatism’ turns out to be anything but.
It’s not just that many of his views obviously belong very firmly on the Left, such as his animosity towards the financial power of the City of London.
The real giveaway is that he is an open disciple of Saul Alinsky, the revolutionary American far-Left thinker who invented ‘community organisers’ as a way of creating a kind of citizens’ army to subvert Western values.
These ‘community organisers’ would ‘rub raw the resentments of the people’ and ‘agitate to the point of conflict’ — all camouflaged by language designed to win the trust of the middle classes.
And Alinsky’s handbook of such community organisation, Rules For Radicals, was actually dedicated to ‘the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment?.?.?.?Lucifer’.
Yet the new Lord Glasman has talked admiringly of Alinsky’s ‘tactics of urban guerrilla politics’. So, far from taking his party on to the middle ground, ‘Red Ed’ Miliband would seem to be once again living up to his reputation.
But we can hardly look to the Conservative Party to defend British society against such subversive ideas.
For, incredible as it may seem, Mr Cameron himself said last spring that his ‘Big Society’ would be built on the model of America’s ‘community organisers’ — and in a background briefing to that speech, the Conservative party actually paid homage to Saul Alinsky himself.
Of course, the Tories’ enthusiasm for Alinsky is most likely based on ignorance rather than a desire to subvert society. But the astounding fact remains that the Cameroons have endorsed a Marxist radical whose agenda was the covert destruction of the West.
And they have done so for the same shallow reasons that lead them to damn those who stand for the true defence of ‘faith, family and flag’ as the ‘extreme Right’ of their party, to be bullied, vilified and ignored.
Mr Miliband’s promotion of such values may be wholly opportunist and cynical. But at least he seems to grasp that there is a hole at the heart of British politics where the very things that the British people hold most dear should be.
This is something which seems to have eluded the leader of the Conservative Party altogether.