Blaney_donalBritish Conservatives differ in many ways from our
American cousins. During the 1980s, however, much store was laid on the fact
that both Thatcherism and Reaganomics stressed the importance of individuals
exercising as much power over their own lives as possible (particularly in the
economic sphere).
A by-product of this approach, coupled with record
levels of economic prosperity, was that many conservative politicians,
supporters and activists exhibited character traits that were unpleasant in the
eyes of the public such that the all too familiar charicature of selfish
"Loadsamoney" conservatism exemplified by yuppies sticks even to
this day.
The actions and views of such people allowed
Thatcherism (and by extent, conservatism) to be stigmatised as being about greed
and materialism. Some even took such perceived rampant individualism forward in
their political dealings, putting themselves and their own career advancement
ahead of the interests of the country, the cause or their constituents.

The fifth of Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public
Policy Process is that a well-run movement takes care of its own. This Rule
encourages us to remember two things. First, we are all part of a wider
conservative movement that, while being most prominently showcased by the
Conservative Party leadership, also consists of think-tanks, pressure groups,
grassroots organisations, journalists, bloggers and campaigners of every hue.
Secondly, this Rule encourages members of the conservative movement to look out
for each other and to help each other in times of need.
Two examples show this Rule in operation. In 1999, I
was seeking re-election as National Chairman of Conservative Future, the
organisation I had founded at William Hague’s behest in 1998 by uniting the
warring factions of the Young Conservatives, Conservative Students and the
Conservative Graduates. For a variety of reasons, some admittedly of my own
doing, my chairmanship had not been the success I had hoped for – I was facing
an inevitable defeat. The day of the hustings coincided with a national CF
conference in London. Two fellow warriors from our movement proudly stood by my
side when it was clear all was lost – Liam Fox and Iain Duncan Smith. One former
cabinet minister, whose ambitions I had championed publicly in the Party and the
media for the previous six years, took the less comradely approach of having his
staff call me an hour before he was due to arrive. I was informed that it would
reflect badly on him if he allied himself with me at that time "and you know how
it is". Had that individual followed the Rule that members of a well-run
movement look after their own, he would have stood by me in the same way that
Liam and IDS did that day. I remain grateful and loyal to them both to do this
day. (As an aside I should add that that individual has since shown very
publicly that he is certainly no longer a member of the conservative
My second example relates to another occasion from my
student days. In 1993, the Eurosceptic Conor Burns (who since has twice been PPC
for Eastleigh) won the national chairmanship of the Conservative Students,
defeating the pro-Maastricht Tim Kevan. The then Party Deputy Chairman, Gerald
Malone, blocked Conor’s appointment and instead appointed Tim as chairman. In
the febrile atmosphere of the anti-Maastricht rebellion it was felt to be "too
risky" to appoint a student leader who would campaign against John Major’s own
policy. The conservative movement swung into action on Conor’s behalf, led by
Lord Tebbit and Lord Parkinson. Even though the Party’s decision was not
changed, Conor was looked after by those who shared his views and admired his
courage in taking a stand against Maastricht. Instead of being cut adrift, he
was helped.
There are many people in our developing conservative
movement who understand the need to look after their own – people such as Daniel
Hannan MEP, Eric Forth MP, Lord Parkinson, Greg Hands MP, David Green of
Civitas, our Editor, Tim Montgomerie, celebrated blogger and publisher Iain Dale
and Alex Singleton of the Globalization Institute. Men such as these will fight
for the interests of colleagues in the movement who need help, often without
regard for the consequences for themselves. They are the mark of the true
comradeship that is essential in developing a conservative movement that can
help propel the Party to power.
Far too many others have either forgotten the
importance of this Rule (and the need for an underlying vibrant conservative
movement) or they simply don’t care and only care about their own
Ronald Reagan supposedly had two slogans on his desk in
the Oval Office. One said "the buck stops here" (which stood in stark contrast
to the blame culture and the avoidance of responsibility of the Carter
presidency). The other said "it is amazing what can be accomplished if you don’t
take care who takes the credit".
Many who enter the political arena, be they students or
more seasoned campaigners, do so for a number of reasons. Some do so through
altruism, while others do so for their own advancement. This Rule does not
denounce ambition, even ambition for one’s own advancement. This Rule makes it
clear, however, that such ambition ought to be framed within the context of
looking after the interests of others who share your views and who may have
helped you along the way. Forgetting those who have helped you, denigrating old
comrades in arms or pulling up the ladder after you are things that have gone on
since the days of Ancient Rome.

Nonetheless the lesson is clear: for a vibrant
conservative movement to flourish, its members must take care of their own.

Donal Blaney’s previous ‘Law’ was An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

15 comments for: Donal Blaney: A well-run movement takes care of its own

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.