Just as the term becomes silently accepted, I am starting to understand the meaning of the words “Conservative” and “Modernised” when they are used together. The true essence of it cannot be found in David Cameron’s new given pledges (which do include maintaining the current tax system, reconnecting politicians to people, fending off rightwingers etc.) but appear, rather less obviously, in the unique means in which he reaches his conclusions.
This is best exemplified in his support for Barack Obama’s comments concerning absent black Father’s (incidentally, if Governments in the UK and the US change, will this expose the inherent differences in Obama’s progressive use of popular rightwing policy and Cameron’s rightwing use of popular progressive policy? Will this stand to be as good a relationship as Blair’s progressive conservatism and Bush’s conservative conservatism?)
“What Obama is doing is very brave. He is saying, yes, of
course black people in America have had appalling
discrimination, economic disadvantage, and deprivation and
all that follows from that. And that needs to change. But at the
same time we will never solve the long-term problems unless people
also take responsibility for their own lives. That is right.”
The first thing to say to this is, we need a clearer explanation of who isn’t taking responsibility of their own lives, to save transmitting a complete unfounded generalisation (for a more in depth analysis of this notion, see Lester Holloway’s comment).
It is much more dubious than so-called Toryism with a conscience, it is more a Liberal means to a Tory ends, in the sense that, yes of course economic inequality is apparent, poverty is a disgraceful reality, but one has to sort ones own home out, a Tory Government cannot help you now, put another way, Cameron cares enough not to care.
So the Liberal progressive bit is the I care way of analysing the problem, the bulk of Cameron’s policy is I care, but this is the extent to my help, best of luck.
Deductively, we can see that the traditional Conservatism which Cameron is the revolutionary guard against is the one which does not care before it pursues its usual Tory, small state initiatives. As Cameron says himself
“The point of modernising the Conservative Party
was not so that we could then, under the cloak of
respectability, introduce even bigger privatisation
programmes. This is not the point. This
modernisation wasn’t just so we could produce
unpalatable rightwing policies and stuff them
down the throats of the unsuspecting British public.”
The key difference, therefore, being that Toryism must produce a minimum of liberal tolerance, a minimum of perception to crime and the causes of crime, to the needs of minority groups, to bettering solutions for poverty which do not simply mask it. All of this before formalising small state, old-Tory solutions, this is otherwise known as a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. My initial response to Cameron’s “point of modernising the Conservative Party” was – Nonsense! – of course it is populism, modernisation’s only change was to force the Tories to care before they did nothing at all about Britain’s problems, at least the old-Tories were honest.
Is this not the task of Boris; to (pretend) respect for minority groups and tackling poverty in spite of his history of careless racial slurs, comparing homosexual marriage to marriage with dogs, and the countless other occasions which should turn the stomach of any non-prejudicial human. It is obviously quite peculiar when lists of Conservative Diary bloggers commented that the sacking of James McGrath was nothing but loony-left-esque PC madness, but this is a means to an end for the nu-Tories. I care, but you’re on your own.
The need for “modernisation” in the Conservative Party is limited to Cameron’s gut feeling that Britain will vote for someone who cares, hugs and so on. Only, we hope that voters will vote for someone who can produce real change, not for someone (like Cameron) who not only expresses the limits of his progressive policies, but also cares not to care, best of luck.