Sunday, 2 May 2010

Why Am I A Tory?

A quick history; I grew up on the top floor of a council high-rise, looked after by my single-parent mother. She later married, but both she and my stepfather were public-sector employees throughout the time that I knew them. I was brought up a Catholic, taught the importance of caring and providing for those who had been less fortunate. My formal education was within the state system - at state-funded Catholic primary schools and a state secondary school.

My current views are firmly liberal; if you wish to partake of an activity that I disapprove of but which does not hurt those around you, then I can be expected to be firmly in support of your right to do it.

My formative teenage years were spent under Maggie, hectored regularly by the news of three million unemployed.

There are no toffs in that background, no silver spoons, no double-barrelled surnames. No-one that I knew used to invite me to their estate for the weekend. And I have never (never) worn tweed. So why am I so firmly Conservative? Why am I utterly contemptuous of the liberal-left parties that my background so decisively pointed me toward?

It was Nick Clegg who summed up the reason for this when he spoke earlier today. Trying (desperately?) to encourage disaffected Labour voters to switch to the Lib Dems, he sought to reassure them by saying that they would not be betraying Labour, it was instead Labour that had betrayed them. What he does not realise is that it is the whole of the liberal left that has deserted the working classes and the poor. It is not his fault (or even that of Labour). They deserted them right at the start, when they formulated a philosophy of politics that treated business and "the rich" as an inexhaustible resource; one that would continue to churn out the golden egg of tax income regardless of what policies they chose to implement. The moment they did that, they sowed the seeds of their inevitable failure when they finally ran out of other people's money.

And so, as I realised very swiftly, the liberal-left are actually the wing of British politics that does the greatest harm to those on low incomes. By taking all the money that they do out of the economy and giving it to unproductive civil servants, they starve businesses of capital with which they might grow and create employment. They blunt the owner's real return from the business, and make him think twice about bothering in future. They embark on grandiose schemes to create jobs, but instead destroy them.

I know how and when I realised that there was this disconnect between their stated aims of helping the poor and the actual effect of their policies. It was when I discovered that they very firmly wished to close my school. This was a school where I regularly saw boys from poor backgrounds given an academic education that matched or exceeded that in the private sector. It was a school where the (very) occasional use of corporal punishment kept 700-odd boys on the straight and narrow and allowed the boys to work in a safe and secure environment. It was (worse!) a selective school. On both of these grounds, the liberal left objected vehemently, yet I could see with my own eyes that it worked.

As I grew up, I saw this again and again. I watched Arthur Scargill demand that pits remain open, even if the coal could not be extracted economically. I watched Howe and Lawson bring economic sanity to the UK against the howls of socialists, and allow our economy to re-invigorate itself - putting those three million back into productive employment.

I read Milton Friedman and, initially, wondered why a book filled with the blindingly obvious should be regarded as such a major work. Then I listened to those who disagreed with it, and saw that the blindingly obvious seemed to escape those of a liberal-left bent.

So, slowly but surely, I realised that the policies of the liberal-left look as if they will work, but are doomed to side-effects and unforeseen* consequences that lead to a worsening of the situation for all, including those most in need. Meanwhile, the policies of the Right look as if they will be harsh, but in the end benefit all - including those most in need.

Hence, my call to you today. Help the workers; Vote Conservative.

*unforeseen by the liberal-left, at least...


  1. It boils down to the public sector being an inefficient use of resources.

    My mother's stepfather always thought she had betrayed her background by voting Conservative and would never forgive her, while my father (who came from an impoverished background, but an apprenticeship with the RAF the making of him and he ended up building radar stations) would probably never have forgiven her if she didn't vote Conservative. I hope she has always voted for what she believed was right.

    I believe that is is patently obvious it is time for the Conservatives to have a large majority to set this country right, P.

  2. Given that this your reasons for being a Tory are almost entirely economic, I would have thought this should have been called "Why I am a (crypto) Marxist."

  3. Woah! I do not believe the working classes are exploited. Albert, the Tories support greater self responsibility, a return to less political interference in education and a return to lower tolerance of antisocial behaviour. This is all good. :-)

    Back to Capitalism, people should be grateful for work (and most of them are), grateful for the advances that have been made in our standard of living and grateful for the tangible and intangible benefits the public sector affords us.

    Now I did start to write a diatribe about pure Capitalism is too harsh a model when:

    1. People without ethics rise to positions of authority which they invariably do

    2. Competition rises which is necessary to eliminate weaker players.

    £. Factors like the environment, compassion and welfare are not adequately priced in or respect towards these issues are not sufficiently rewarded.

    However, I thought I have really annoyed Patently enough recently so I ditched it. Not point stating the obvious. ;-)

  4. Thanks for that, Mr. P. I enjoy histories.

    There are some interesting echoes of my own story. My family was broadly Liberal - but sympathetic to Labour and mildly anti-Tory.

    I started out that way, but then kept on learning things about the left (& Labour in particular) - that disturbed me.

    First it was nationalisation ("We're stronger than you because we make th laws so we can take your property.")

    Then it was the left's opposition to Grammar Schools, that I could not understand. (Yes, I went to one.)

    Then there was the matter of trade union militancy, the closed shop, and other things which just seemed wrong to me.

    Curiously enough, the thing that was probably most decisive was the fact that the liberal left tended to be solidly pro-abortion.

  5. You misread, Albert. My examples are mainly economic, but that just reflects the hurt I was feeling when I wrote the piece; that the policies of the left cause so much economic hardship to the poor.

    What persuaded me is that the left's approach is almost always one based on a facile and wishful approach to the problem, and in the end simply does not work because it tries to take the easy route. The approach of the right is to accept the realities of life, take account of them, and get on with it.

    YMB - there are many parallels there. It is the last one that strikes home with me, though. I happen to know that I owe my life to the stubborn resistance of one Catholic to the provisions of the then-recent 1967 Act.

    M - "pure capitalism" is a difficult thing to define, and seen almost nowhere. The distinction between the left and the right is that the right work with capitalism, the left work against it. Working with something does not mean you have to release it, unfettered. But if you are trying to work against the very thing that is creating prosperity for all, the thing that is generating the funds you are so keen to spend, then your endeavour is doomed ab initio.

  6. I happen to know that I owe my life to the stubborn resistance of one Catholic to the provisions of the then-recent 1967 Act.

    Delighted to hear Catholicism saved your life. I've always believed the only reason that abortion is allowed in this country is because children who are aborted, are, by definition, unable to vote. They are that silent minority, who can be discriminated against with impunity - thereby putting the lie to so much silly equalities rhetoric.

    Speaking of which, are you the kind of Tory who is happy with the Conservative "contract for equalities", unveiled by shadow women's minister Theresa May today: "We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage." I keep saying Mr Cameron is unable to think for himself - why do we still need witnesses?

  7. Well, has she been a stricter Catholic then my (single) mother might not have been presented with the decision in the first place. So it is not quite accurate to say that Catholicism saved my life...

    As for whether I am that kind of Tory, I have to say that my libertarianism, my pragmatism, and my compassion all say "yes". My gut feeling says "no". On balance? Civil partnerships exist; the cat is out of the bag and if it looks like a cat, walks like a cat, and miaows like a cat, then it should be called a cat. We have more pressing concerns facing us.

  8. I have to say that my libertarianism, my pragmatism, and my compassion all say "yes".

    Wow! I'd like to see that unpacked.

    Civil partnerships exist; the cat is out of the bag and if it looks like a cat, walks like a cat, and miaows like a cat, then it should be called a cat.

    You think that a marriage can be created by an act of reclassification or have you not read the content of a Civil Partnership?

    We have more pressing concerns facing us.

    What, more pressing than marriage and family life and the basic freedom to think what one believes is true regarding homosexual relationships? What do you think will happen to people who refuse to accept that Civil Partnerships are marriages? And, thereafter, when such "marriages" are allowed in Church, it will be a short step indeed to requiring clergy to officiate at them.

    Yes, there are more pressing concerns, which is why the Tories ought to stop alienating people with silly suggestions.