Alex Morton was a member of David Cameron’s Downing Street Policy Unit.
A while ago, I stopped listening to Radio Four comedies. In part, because they were not funny but, mainly, because the punchline was almost always about the Conservatives – or if a Labour politician, because he or she wsd too right wing. This links to a wider problem – that broadcast comedy, and largely broadcast documentaries and other media, when political, is almost relentlessly left-of-centre, with the occasional sop of a right-wing documentary.
Given that the Conservatives gained 42 per cent of the voting electorate at the last election, and probably a higher proportion of BBC viewers and listeners who vote, I have a modest proposal. All broadcast comedy shows should have at least one Conservative comedian. After all, we have precedent because, since 2014, the BBC has had a rule that all comedy shows should have a woman on them. Why do I have to fund a political viewpoint that I disagree with being rammed down my throat with no alternative ever put forward?
But Radio 4’s unfunny comedic output is just a single example of the Left’s long march and take-over of institutions. It is steadily and consistently destroying the conservative and liberal (I mean genuinely liberal, not authoritarian progressive) intellectual and political ecosystem. Not only that, but the Left increasingly seeks to ban, bully and systematically remove those on the Right by making even discussing right-wing views illegitimate. We need more than a single modest proposal to fix this issue.
The Left’s ‘long march’ through the institutions will soon be too late to turn back
The Left’s long march has been extended to the universities, those training the professions, and the media. Sometimes, the march’s effects can be subtle. I remember in the early 2000s at law school that there were two competing visions of the law. One was a traditional conservative view that the English common law was fundamental, that principles like individual freedom, consent and contracts had created a functioning web that needed to be strengthened and protected over time. The other saw this as an anachronistic viewpoint, believing that regulations and rights created and enforced by Government (and the civil law approach of the European Union) were the way forward.
This second school of thought, which prioritised government action and regulation, was steadily and consistently driving out the first. We can see the outcomes of this now: whenever a company acts in bad faith, the first calls are to legislate, not to examine if they acted in a way compatible with contract law (which for example requires people to understand and agree to the key terms in any contract). Rather than emphasising that the system requires mutual consent by individuals and companies, and that government should enforce a fair playing field, we now emphasise that regulation is necessary to protect people from companies that abuse their power. One thought system leads toward a liberal and conservative viewpoint, the other towards a socialist mindset.
The capitulation of the Conservatives
From the law schools to the universities and academia to much of the media, we have been purged and marginalised. Yet we seem unable – or unwilling – to do much about it. Part of the reason that older or rural people are Conservative is that, in many urban, younger or public sector workplaces, being openly Conservative is both harmful to your career, and exhausting as you have to constantly defend yourself.
We have allowed our enemies to infiltrate almost every power centre that matters and delegitimise our very existence. Meanwhile we don’t even try to protect or shore up our own base. We abandoned home ownership in the 2017 manifesto, have no solution to the death of the Tory press, and are told to emulate London even as we are pushed out of it.
We cave in to the idea that quotas are acceptable – implying that government action is the only way to solve solutions (except that of course, we do not promote quotas for diversity of thought, which the left also vehemently oppose). We do not systematically defend or promote Conservatives or conservativism. Every step that Corbyn makes has been so much easier, due to the failure of our party to have any idea – even a modest proposal – about how to halt and reverse the left’s long march through the institutions.
We need to defend consumers, conservatives and ordinary taxpayers not big companies
Companies exist to provide products at a low price to consumers, jobs for people, and revenue to the Government. Brexit is an example where cheaper food could make a real difference, and we can show that our beliefs benefit ordinary people. But already we are caving into producer lobbies that rule this out.
Meanwhile, Google has just sacked someone for arguing that you might not ever reach absolute gender parity at Google because while individual women might outshine men, and there are group gender preferences that mean 50:50 parity is unrealistic. The implications for free speech are awful. Google additionally lectures everyone on refugees while systematically avoiding tax – a company which records for shareholders annual UK turnover of £6 billion, yet paid a backdated bill of just £130 million for nearly 10 years’ taxes. George Osborne celebrated.
Is anyone surprised that a party that refuses to defend the rights of consumers, conservatives, or ordinary taxpayers, but which celebrates large companies that ignore the rules and promote their own hypocritical and intolerant version of politics, is one that is struggling?
Long-term power structures and hearts and minds are what matter
In the long term, power structures and hearts and minds are what matters, not formal power. Take education. The Free School programme is now under heavy attack by the ‘blob’. Friends and family who are teachers tell me that OFSTED’s expanding micromanagement matters more on a daily basis than the academy freedoms created under Tony Blair and David Cameron. The Left grasps power and how to use it. All too often, we do not. Each institution we lose, each time the Left bullies and silences dissent and we stand idly by, is another strand in the noose that is slowly choking the Conservative Party.
There is likely to be a Conservative leadership contest in the coming years. More than focusing on the short term electoral gains or boosts, what we will need is a leader with a set of modest proposals of their own. Because if we make the wrong choice again, there may not be much worth fighting for by the time that next leader departs.