My decision to come out against Stuart Wheelers explusion from the party has prompted much debate and gained much attention, both locally and nationally, which I am very pleased about (the blog has been rather flat lately!). The truth is having absorbed some of the criticisms I stand by my claim that the expulsion of Wheeler was morally wrong although I accept that sadly today morality and politics don’t seem to work in sync with one another and sometimes what is morally correct finds itself subverted by what is politicially prudent. Whilst I disagree personally with Wheelers (relatively insignificant) donation to UKIP, I fully support his right to do it and am frustrated that the Conservative Party could not just ‘let it slide’.
We have to remember that the real ‘villain in this piece’ is not Wheeler but the party leadership who have done more to villify UKIP as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” than recognise that their views resonate with a large number of our own membership and the country at large. A Conservativehome survey found that 43% of surveyed members of the Conservative Party felt that UKIP was the closest party to their views (apart from the Conservative Party itself) with 66% either supporting or sympathising with the Better Off Out campaign. These are statistics that cannot be ignored. Europe is an issue never far from a Conservative heart, whilst I recognise we have to focus on our broken society and applaud Cameron and his team for doing so, I believe more can be said in regard to Europe and Britains position in Europe needs to be seriously re-evaluated in the face of Lisbon.
My hostility toward Europe is well documented and I make no apology for it however I am certainly not alone in this party with my views and I fear that all the fantastic work that Cameron and his team have done could be squandered over his European policy or lack thereof. With Labour on the ropes, the country increasingly concerned in regard to European federalism in the face of the Lisbon Treaty, and the upcoming European elections this is a time when we Tories should be hitting the issue of Europe hard. We aren’t. Wheeler has lost patience and if we’re not careful he will not be the only one.
Moreover the fact is that this situation is indicative of another problem within the Conservative Party today. There is a feeling now that principle must play second fiddle to party and anyone who speaks out against the party ‘machine’ is disloyal. Don’t get me wrong I fully support this party in its stance on social policy and many other areas and I, like Wheeler incidently, will vote for the Conservatives in all the upcoming elections acutely aware of the fact that a Conservative government, Europe or no Europe, would be a hell of alot better than a Labour one! But I cannot pretent that I am not displeased at our party’s handling of the ‘Europe’ issue as closer European integration compromises the principles I, and I hope we, as conservatives hold.
True conservativism is more than a party or single ideology such as ‘Cameronism’ or indeed ‘Thatcherism’. Its principles. For the most part this party leadership adheres to the principles I hold dear. I would define my conservative principles as; less government intervention, social and individual responsibility, community, enterprise, strong defence, democracy, law and order, respect for tradition and heritage and nationhood. At least one of those principles is compromised in regard to the party’s silence on Europe.
Where a core conservative principle is compromised then we should not be afraid to speak out against those that have compromised it. That doesn’t mean that we have in some way defected or lost support for the party in question, it means we have a democratic right to air our concerns in the hope the ‘powers that be’ will take it on board. Debate is a sign of healthy internal democracy. Then we can be a party all conservatives can be proud of.
The video below shows 13 year old Jonathan Krohn, who has written… yes written… a book called ‘”Define Conservatism’ and he shared his thoughts on conservatism at the CPAC conference. Whilst I do not agree with everything he says I think he does hit on some interesting points.