The Tory Dilemma

The Telegraph has an interesting article on the internal divisions of Britain’s Conservative Party.

This is a tale of two parties. It starts at a drinks reception in Manchester, where a senior Conservative is talking about prisons. In his view, far too many people are locked up. Like the Tory grandee Douglas Hurd, he thinks jail is an expensive way of making bad people worse.

Try telling that to the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, who will present himself to conference as the nation’s turnkey. Under his “mug-a-hoodie” strategy, the prison population would rise to 100,000 for the first time in history, and “street rats” could expect no mercy.

On a host of other issues, the party is similarly split. For every save-the-planetarian with a gnat-sized carbon footprint, there is someone who attaches more credence to the tooth fairy than to global warming. For every rationalist arguing that Britain’s future is in Europe, there is a Little Englander who fears, quite wrongly, that we are going to become a dystopia of Brussels bylaws and straight bananas.

The Conservative Party gathered together this week is reformist and reactionary, modulated and spittle-flecked, nice and nasty. Janus-faced, it has one eye focused on the future and the other staring at the past. With the Thatcher legacy still unresolved, libertarians vie with social authoritarians.

The concern of which school of conservative thought an opposition party philosophically bases its policy principles is not limited to Britain. It is the same dilemma faced by the opposition conservative party in two largest economies in the world, the United States and Japan. Britain is the test case, as the next general election will take place on or before June 3, 2010. Japan’s next major election is next summer. America’s next major election is in November next year.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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9 Responses to The Tory Dilemma

  1. Oliver says:

    If you have essentially a two party system, divisions will crop up inside the parties.

  2. Curzon says:

    Divisions will crop up in any political party that has more than one person. The issue here is how does a conservative opposition party go into an election with a united front and a common platform. A party that cannot agree on basic policy points will find it very difficult to win an election.

  3. Oliver says:

    How could they lose against the current PM? Other than the weakness of the sitting government, how is the disagreement within the party significantly stronger than in other cases? And have the Tories really forgotten how to paper over differences until the election is over?

  4. Curzon says:

    “And have the Tories really forgotten how to paper over differences until the election is over?”

    That’s what the article says…

  5. Admiral says:

    Sometimes it is unnecessary so much to present a united front as to unite against a fractured and/or weak opposition. Although Labor is far from done, unless Brown has it in him to set the agenda, the Tories may be spared at least some of the hard work.

    I don’t think the Little Englanders are so off-base. Its actions in antitrust alone are increasing costs for Britons, to say nothing of what will happen under Lisbon. I doubt many people, including myself, fully understand the scope of what is to come. Yet the Public Choice school warns loudly: beware politicians bearing gifts.

  6. lirelou says:

    I think that it is fair to point out that not all opposition to the European Union, and most specifically the Lisbon Treaty, is from “Little Englanders”. By necessity, the Tories must carry the banner of opposition to EU expansion into national affairs.

  7. Oliver says:

    That makes me wonder whether the European political left needs to adopt some kind of “economic nationalism” to adapt to modern times.

  8. Sejo says:

    Isn’t it already so, Oliver? Most of the European Left is anti-EU, like some Greens and Socialists, anti-market and anti-globalization.

  9. Oliver says:

    The hard left is. I was wondering whether the moderate left has to follow .