Published 9th September 2021
I have resigned my membership of the Conservative & Unionist Party. It has morphed into a centre left, statist, high taxation collective of unconservatives, more akin to newLabour than even Ted Heath’s imitation of Conservatism.
I know I am one of many who either had, have or will take identical action imminently so don’t pretend to have original thought on that action.
With the honourable exception of the 5 Tories who defied the whip and voted against the imposition of the new health & social care levy, the rest of the parliamentary party, including those who abstained (a cowardly act) are misnomered. Johnsonism is not Conservatism no matter how many attempts are made to gaslight the media or the electorate that it is.
Since the demise of Margaret Thatcher, I have struggled to connect with a succession of party leaders, for a variety of reasons.
History has been kind to Sir John Major, despite catastrophic decision making, a succession of scandals and a complete erosion of party management.
William Hague was at times funny and engaging but his limitations were brutally exposed by Tony Blair in his prime.
Iain Duncan Smith had (arguably still has) Conservative principles but whilst strategically his ideas may have been sound, tactically he was battered week after week at the dispatch box and his leadership petered out with a whimper.
Michael Howard arguably steadied the ship but came nowhere close to turning the Party into more than a moderately effective opposition.
Vacuums get filled. Not necessarily in the way one expects. David Davis was expected to steamroller into the post of the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition but as is often the case (see Thatcher M and Corbyn J), outsiders often come from nowhere to win.
Enter David Cameron and 11 years of Camborne. Whilst it would be churlish not to acknowledge relative electoral success, initially in coalition with Nick Clegg’s illiberal Democrats and then with a small working majority, he will forever be remembered for 3 things:
1. Brexit referendum – where he was on the wrong side of history;
3. His involvement in and enrichment from Greensill Capital.
There is of course a 4th. Removing his bat, ball and stumps the day after losing the Brexit referendum and leaving a bigger vacuum than the one he benefited from in 2005.
After Johnson & Gove performed mutually assured destruction, Theresa May ended up as Prime Minister uncontested. Let that sink in for a second.
Whatever Mayism was, it was rarely far from braced for impact. Blowing a 20 point lead in the polls with a so called dementia tax as a manifesto commitment and ceding an outright majority to a not so new Labour Party riding a wave of Corbynism, should have had the fabled men in grey suits knocking on the door of number 10 the day after the 2017 General Election.
The 2 years after that election will be fresh in the reader’s memory but suffice to say, it was a far from halcyon period of Conservatism. May’s “negotiations” with the European Union led to a Brexit in name only that, thankfully, led to a succession of heavy defeats for her government through the division lobbies.
Her tearful resignation was at least an honourable act but it will not have gone unnoticed how she has become part of the awkward squad for Johnson since his ascension to the party leadership and becoming Prime Minister.
And so to Boris. How do I describe thee, let me count the ways:
2. High intellect but poor decision making;
3. Populist, hence policy on the hoof, vanity projects at taxpayers’ expense and a dubious moral compass;
Given the debacle of the Northern Ireland protocol, backlash from fishermen and lack of expediency in returning illegal immigrants (none of those who have arrived in 2021 have been expelled), it is increasingly hard to repeat the clarion calls of “Get Brexit Done” or “Take Back Control”.
To break one manifesto commitment in a day (the pensions triple lock) is unfortunate and arguably (just about) acceptable given the spike in earnings.
To break a second and fundamental manifesto commitment in the same day will take as long as the miners’ strike or the poll tax to fade from the memories of the electorate. Not least as a new permanent tax has been created to “solve” a temporary problem (NHS waiting lists) and even an imbecile would struggle to believe that much of the money will ever reach the social care system.
The paucity of intellectual rigour in the cabinet, (presumably because Boris is constantly checking for people looking to usurp him), the immigration crisis (which unquelled will only morph) and now the wholly unconservative imposition of additional taxes on wealth creators and hard working people is a damning indictment of just how far from Conservatism, the so called Conservative & Unionist Party has distanced itself.
Instead of reforming our “precious” (bloated, grossly inefficient and failing) NHS, which in truth is little more than a National Covid-19 Service that occasionally treats emergencies, this government throws away another £25 Billion of taxpayers’ money (our money).
Add that to the £130M we may as well have incinerated that has been sent to the French to tackle the migrant crossings in the English Channel and a pattern emerges.
This Conservative government now has the dubious honour of presiding over:
1. The highest rates of personal taxation since World War II;
2. The highest energy bills in Europe – over 35% of utility bills are used to subsidise renewable forms of energy. On Tuesday when the wind didn’t blow, we had to fire up (say it quietly) a coal fired power station to meet demand;
3. The state will be vaccinating 12-15 year olds regardless of parental will with a vaccine that they do not need, which has only emergency MHRA approval and we have no idea of potential impact on their health in the medium term – this is totalitarianism on steroids;
4. The state will be forcing care workers who refuse to take the vaccine to leave the sector, which is already facing a resourcing crisis;
5. The state is imposing vaccine passports for those who wish to attend mass gatherings snatching defeat from the jaws of the victory of the vaccine rollout.
Brief dishonourable mentions to the increasingly extreme obsession with moving towards carbon neutrality, scrapping sales of the internal combustion engine, replacing gas boilers with ground source heat pumps that don’t work below 5 degrees Celsius and a very unconservative £2Trn cost to be borne by the taxpayer in consequence.
To summarise, the current Conservative & Unionist Party is now the party of high taxation, nannying, state intervention, totalitarianism, pandering to climate extremists, ever reducing investment in our armed forces and is no friend of business.
Unlike many who were spellbound to the point of salivating over the appointment of Boris Johnson, I was concerned that, at best, he would bumble along for a while on a wave of “hail fellow, well met” popularity.
Sadly, even my worst case scenario of him betraying his so called libertarian instincts and spaffing public money on unnecessary infrastructure rather than truly pursuing a “levelling up” agenda and winning the war on wokeism was way short of the state we are in.
I have applied to join the Bow Group of Conservatives and whilst I would not rule out ever voting for the Conservative & Unionist Party again, I will remain a Conservative to my core, something this party has long since decoupled from.
© justchrisdavies 2021