For the first time in my life, I have joined the Conservative Party. It cost £25 and took less than a minute online. But it has been a long personal political odyssey that included being so disaffected with the brand of so-called Conservatism espoused by David Cameron and George Osborne, which threatened to fasten us with iron cuffs to the European Union in perpetuity, that I voted Ukip in 2015. Indeed, I stood for the seat of North Warwickshire for Ukip on a pro-countryside ticket, campaigning to save the very aesthetic soul of England from Osborne’s bulldozers.
I have joined the Tories in support of the moral conservatism that lies at the heart of Theresa May’s vision of a one-nation Brexit Britain. This vision reaches out to both the hard-working middle class and the working class across the country. It was vindicated by the recent Conservative victory in the former Labour stronghold of Copeland in the Lake District and its near victory over Ukip in Stoke, a poster city for urban neglect.
I like to think that the moral conservatism of Theresa May – a church-going vicar’s daughter with a strong sense of politics as a vocation – is now returning the party to the days of the late 1950s when Quintin Hogg, then chairman of the party, said: “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force … corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”
Osborne and Cameron declared war on three pillars of British conservatism: property; the English countryside; and traditional village communities and values.
Whether it was in cosying up to the building sector and renewable energy lobbies, grandstanding over HS2, supporting obscene amounts of foreign aid or plaguing the countryside with wind farms, the Osborne-Cameron vision was not of a Tory Britain that I could recognise or vote for; and I wasn’t alone.
Osborne, especially, is not a true Tory interested in the sort of morally conservative vision that May seems to believe in. In America, he would be a Democrat. Indeed, there are rumours in Westminster of Osborne and the likes of Anna Soubry and Peter Mandelson forming a new party in Britain actually called the Democrat Party. It would be similar to the SDP breakaway “centrist” party of 1981, whose roots were in disaffection with a hard-left Labour Party.
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