Chris Hossack, a councillor on Brentwood Borough Council, looks at the value of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
For those who can see beyond the NRA hype, the tasteless albeit humorous T shirts and bumper stickers and the ‘Coulteresque side shows’, there is some very serious debate, discussion and business being carried out at the Conservative Political action Conference (CPAC).
Before you are about to consider deriding this long standing Political Action Conference and this defence of it. It might be worth acknowledging some key facts;
CPAC is now in it’s 35th year and the momentum is growing. It is not a Republican Party Conference, it is a meeting of Conservative minds.
This is no fringe event either, the ‘Leader of the Free World’ and his Deputy and key advisors all address this conference. Republican candidates avoid CPAC at their peril. It is part of the mainstream of the Conservative Republican movement in the best and largest democracy in the West. Like it or not.
Being an American event, one can and should expect a certain amount of exuberance from it’s delegates, not something we Brits often feel comfortable around, but forget your preconceptions for a moment and look and listen to what is being said, because you will not find it here in Britain.
At CPAC the issues addressed are of huge importance, not just to
America but to other Western democracies such as ours. They will go
directly to the issues that we in our overly cautious PC society fear
to tread near, debate and alternative arguments are encouraged.
What impresses me most is the extent to which social conservative
issues are brought to the fore and the framework of morality in which
they are addressed without shame; The Pro-life debate is one such
example, whilst the mainstream conservatives in the UK tip toe around
the issue, to the Conservative Republican Movement it is pivotal. Human
life is revered and respected in all it’s forms and at all stages –
this position is clear. Traditional family values and the traditional
family model gets unequivocal support also.
Climate Change, instead of taxing the problem away (the UK approach)
the view that a healthy and innovative economy produces a healthy
environment is propounded, explore this further – it makes sense.
The war on terrorism, if Bush really wanted to win the popularity
contest for his party at home, then the sustained and increased
presence in Iraq was not the way forward. He continues the war because
he believes unshakeably in the principles of freedom and democracy that
are so deeply ingrained into American Society. President Bush believes
entirely that this is something which had to be done at this point in
history, he and his government are taking a stand now so that the
future generations of Americans won’t have to. The fact is that when
the surge was proposed last year, the media poured scorn upon it. Well,
it is having the desired effect, yet the media a suddenly silent on the
issue. America has not suffered a terrorist attack at home for over 6
years now. Ultimately history will be judge of the whole affair.
This all said, this article is not at all about Republican Governmental
Policy, but I mention some of the ‘hot topics’ for context. If you want
to get a fuller flavour of the way some of the great conservative minds
are currently thinking Stateside, take look at what that great
architect of Conservative policy, Mr Newt Gingrich, is proposing under
www.AmericanSolutions.com I challenge any real conservative to disagree
with any of it. It may be an American document but it can largely be
applied here at home. But after some slight de-americanisation and
perhaps the addition of the EU issue, it is a workable strategy and
framework that could be applied here.
It springs forth from a real belief in ‘by the people for the people’.
Sadly, not something we are too familiar with here, thanks to big
government and the nanny state.
In the UK there is no event to compare with CPAC in terms of its
patriotism, its passion, and the willingness to fight and stand for
true conservative principles.
We here have an annual Conservative Party Conference that is usually
only superseded in it’s ‘drabness’ by the Victorian Seaside resorts in
which they are held.
The average age of the activists at CPAC has to be some 35 to 40 years
less that those we see at party conference – bless them. So what does
this tell us? firstly you have to applaud the commitment of the young
delegates. But something is impassioning them. Let us not speculate
about what it might be; young people like straight talkers, whether
they agree or not, they like to know where you stand as a politician
and a leader. The plain spokeness of the Republican leaders and the
simple language they use, pulls no punches, one doesn’t have to unravel
the meanings in what is being said – sound anything like our
politicians at home? Don’t be silly!
Secondly and more worryingly, the lack of youth involvement (aside from
the usual political junkies) in any significant numbers at party
conference, does beg the question; ‘Where are the conservatives of
tomorrow who will stand unashamedly for true conservative values and
Without question the ordinary 20/30 somethings (along with the rest of
the beleaguered masses) in the UK are switched off from political
engagement and democratic participation – how tragic.
I believe events such as CPAC and the atmosphere and spirit in which
they are held, need to be replicated here in the UK. Something has to
be done, because ‘if we do what we’ve always done we’ll get what we’ve
always got’, and more importantly what we deserve.
Would it work? I can think of very few Tory politicians who could
really carry this off. Their centrist approach to politics has been one
big turn off for the last decade. Young people don’t want someone whose
trying to look trendy, they want people to ‘be real’ and principled.
Sadly for most of our Tory Politicians their cards are irretrievably
However, I believe all is not lost, there are enough young people
sitting at the periphery of mainstream politics, who are increasingly
fed up with the lack of action and direction from Westminster. They
have their futures ahead of them, they are proud and patriotic enough
to want to put Britain back on track. I know who they are, and so do
they, if you want a clue, look at some of the non partisan activist
groups that have sprung up over recent years, full of clearly focussed,
articulate and intelligent young people who really care about Britain’s
future and are increasingly disgusted at the shambles that our elected
politicians continue to make of it.
So in conclusion, let us be clear, the stakes are high, very high. Even
in the US, the liberal movement is strong and from Jan 2009 there may
no longer be a Conservative leader at the helm of the largest Western
Democracy in the World.
The time to galvanise the next generation of British Conservative minds has come. ‘On to Democracy’ and ‘Forward for Freedom’.