Essay:Liberals can't lose in the 2010 UK Elections
Please add comments and debate at the bottom.
I would like to argue that liberals (and specifically advocates of socialism) cannot lose the upcoming General Election in the United Kingdom, and to discuss what it would mean if any of the parties win.
The Conservative Party formed the government of the United Kingdom for over two-thirds of the 20th century. Margaret Thatcher was a true conservative who was very, very similar in policy to Ronald Reagan. She once famously said that, "My job is to stop Britain going red." After years of irresponsible spending under the previous socialist government, Thatcher managed to significantly cut the deficit. But the previous government had been able to provide a level of services and welfare beyonds Britain's means. We were simply living beyond our means. Thatcher had to choose between the popular but irresponsible thing - spending on credit - and the responsible but unpopular thing - cutting spending to cut the deficit.
She was very successful, but due to very poor treatment in the media and visible cuts in spending, Thatcher was demonised. The British people didn't realise she'd done the right thing for them - they only saw the cuts. A good example of this is the tale of "Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher." This was a nickname given to her. The media told people (and most people to this day believe) that Thatcher decided school children shouldn't just be given free milk, and so she stopped it. The truth of the matter is far different: As Education Secretary, before being Prime Minister, Thatcher realised that more was being spent on milk than on books from the education budget. Without the budget being changed, Thatcher cut milk from all but the poorest of children and spent the money on books and facilities for schools. This was obviously a positive, pro-education step. But the media portrayed her as a cutter who didn't care for the poor. Another example is the quote, "There is no such thing as society." This was taken wildly out of context and used to say that Thatcher didn't believe in society. After saying this, however, she explained what she meant. She meant that society isn't a structure in itself, that others can expect things from. She meant that society is made up of hard-working and not-so-hard working people.
After Thatcher, John Major was able to maintain a Conservative government for nearly seven years. He was bitterly unpopular throughout this time, however the Opposition was seen as being disorganised and incapable of governing. This all changed when Tony Blair dropped the most left-wing policies of the Labour party and won a landslide victory in 1997. The Conservative party has contested elections under William Hague, Michael Howard and Ian Duncan Smith. They were all true conservatives. Particularly William Hague, who still represents the strongest and most respected truly conservative figure in Parliament.
Unfortunatley, they failed in these elections. Labour continued in power. In 2005, after the unpopular Iraq war, people expected the Conservatives to win, but even then they didn't. David Cameron became the leader of the Conservative Party, and he changed the party's politices a lot. David Cameron supports "A woman's right to choose" and simply wants to change the law so that abortion can be permitted after 20 weeks, not 24. He supports various welfare programmes which can only be described as socialist. He is basically a socialist, although not as socialist as the Labour Party.
And here in lies the rub: If after 13 years out of power, despite having been the most popular party throughout the 20th century, and after three respected conservatives have tried and failed to take back power... then if the conservatives take power back only when they choose a mild socialist as their leader, then will they ever go back to not believing in socialism? If they can only win after aligning themselves with policies such as SureStart and significant increases in socialised healthcare spending.... then they will never go back to the policies which kept them out of power for so long: the policies of true conservatism.
He may call it "moral capitalism," but it is socialism by any other name.
And so, I present to you my case:
In the 2010 General Election, either a self-identifying liberal party will win the election, or the most right-wing of the parties will win. In doing so, this most ring-wing party will irreversibly be stepping back on its heritage and effectively become a liberal party. They may not get into power, but the liberals can only win this election.
I am scared of what will become of our once great nation.
A quote to make you think
Issues that once divided Conservatives from Liberal Democrats are now issues where we both agree. Our attitude to devolution and localisation of power. Iraq. The environment. I'm a liberal Conservative. (N.B. In the UK, Conservative with a capital generally refers to the party, conservative to the political position.)
You point out that the Conservative party have tried 3 different leaders for the past 3 elections and now are only showing signs of succeeding with a more socialist leader, David Cameron. Whilst i'll accept the point that Cameron is less of a traditional Conservative in an attempt to gain more votes i think it's quite simplistic to reason that they need a more socialist leader to gain popularity. Blair was popular both in a political and celebrity sense; he was very good at using the media to his advantage, whereas the failed Conservative elections/leaders that you cite, with the staunch exception of Hague, were some of the least appealing personalities in politics. This was also an attribute that was regularly applied to Major.
Politics now has managed to shift itself away a bit from the Blair style, especially with all politicians being tarnished by the recent scandals at Westminister, it's quite awkward for any of them to build up such a shining image in the media. Cameron is now a much stronger personality to lead the Conservative party and has gone down the road of becoming less of a traditional Conservative to become more popular, but a lot of that has come from him trying to simply coast the next election on Brown's unpopularity, a tactic which hasn't worked with the electorate. Now he's stuck with trying to come up with populist, often reactionary policies rather than meaningful ones.
Note, i've been using the capital Conservative to refer to the party, not the ideology. Partly as British Conservative values have always been quite different to those on this site, especially its links to religious matters. Aslate 19:25, 29 March 2010 (EDT)
Alright, perhaps I've oversimplified the matter, but I'd say that it doesn't really matter if Cameron is more popular because of being seen as less right-wing.. but I'd argue that it's still the case that the Conservatives wouldn't go back to their older, more right-wing ways very easily. If he can win after three defeats, then I think the party will in a way be 'moulded in his image.' I don't think anybody would be able to come along in ten years time and say, "Hey, lets be more conservative." I just think the party would be scared.
I accept your point, and it wouldn't be that the Tories get into power because of a more socialist agenda... but I still think it'd make the party more long-lastingly Cameron-like, and pretty far from the party it was under Thatcher.
(Edit: I haven't made my point too well, let me try to rephrase it: The party is currently in the place that Cameron wants it. If he wins, I think it'll "set" in that position, and be much more difficult to bring back to the right wing. If he wins this election, I don't think we'll see a political party with more than 25 seats which would be considered right-wing in international standards.)