Wednesday, May 05, 2010



"I hope to see the Conservative Party return with a substantial majority. I have bitter memories of the Attlee-Cripps regime when the kingdom seemed to be under enemy occupation. I recognize that individually some of the Liberal candidates are more worthy than many of the Conservatives, but any advantage to them can only produce deplorable instability....

I have never voted in a parliamentary election. I shall not vote this year. I shall never vote unless a moral or religious issue is involved (e.g., the suppression of of Catholic Schools). Great Britain is not a democracy. All authority emanates from the Crown. Judges, Anglican Bishops, soldiers, sailors, ambassadors, the Poet Laureate, the postman and especially ministers exist by the royal will. In the last 300 years, particularly in the last hundred, the Crown has adopted what seems to me a very hazardous process of choosing advisers: popular elections. Many great evils have resulted but the expectation of a change in my lifetime is pure fantasy.

Crowned heads proverbially lie uneasy. By usurping sovereignty the peoples of many civilized nations have incurred a restless and frustrated sense of responsibility which interferes with their proper work of earning a living and educating their children. If I voted for the Conservative Party and they were elected, I should feel morally inculpated in their follies - such as their choice of Regius professors; if they failed, I should have made submission to socialist oppression by admitting the validity of popular election. I do not aspire to advise my sovereign in her choice of servants."

Evelyn Waugh, "Aspirations of a Mugwump", in the Spectator (London), 2 October 1959.

"I am always hearing about the Middle Classes. What is it that they really want? Can you not put it down on a sheet of notepaper and I will see whether we can give it to them".

Harold Macmillian [Prime Minister] to Michael Fraser [head of the Conservative Party Research Department], 17 February 1957, in Alistair Horne, "Macmillan", Vol II, (1989) p. 62.

"Stupidity is for the vast majority of people, no doubt the best solution to the problem of thinking."T. S. Eliot.

Like Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh, I also do not aspire to advise her Majesty the Queen, on her choice of servants. Especially since I am not one of her subjects. However, as a life-long Anglophile, who has followed British politics for almost thirty years now, I would like to offer my own 'two cents', about the election which ends tomorrow, the 6th of May. The choice is rather simple actually: the current, Labour Government is completely burned-out. Whatever originality that Messieurs Blair and Brown brought with them to Downing Street back in May 1997, has been completely exploded (to use Disraeli's metaphor). Of course in point of fact, there was not much in the way of substance to 'New Labour', even in the Spring of 1997. Except in the way of publicity(remember 'Cool Britannia' anyone?), and, the expenditure of huge amounts of monies on the public services, such as the National Health Service. Which to a degree was of course warranted. Unfortunately, as is now widely acknowledged, much of that expenditure was either wasted, or used in an extremely unproductive manner. Please do not mis-understand me in the least: there was much in the Thatcher regime, which was problematical. In particular her cavalier attitude to the public services and indeed to the very indeed that 'State' and 'Society' are intermingled and to a degree (as in any advanced society) inseparable, rather than antagonistic. That and her tendency to view everything from a rather dogmatic and simplistic parody of Smithian economic theory. When added to the fact that the Major government and the Conservative Party, after eighteen years in office, were also completely played out, it was not at all surprising that an ignominious defeat at the polls was in store. Unfortunately, the end-result was a thirteen year reign of the Labour Party, which in many ways, made the 'Socialist Tyranny', that Waugh complained of, seem almost nirvanic in retrospect. From the needless destruction of the House of Lords, to the wasteful and also unnecessary devolution of Scotland & Wales, to the application of European 'Human Rights' legislation to the UK, to the gauchist idiocy of 'political correctness' in all walks of life, the United Kingdom has indeed suffered much from the reign of Blair and Brown.

In the realm of foreign policy, things were not as bad for the most part. After the malaise in Anglo-American relations between 1993 to 1997, Blair's unsurpassed talent to ally himself closely with Washington, first Clinton and then with Bush the Younger, did pay dividends. Few may now remember the ways in which Blair, during the height of the Lewinsky scandal, seemed to take over from Clinton as the chief rhetorician of the so-called, 'new liberal interventionism'. First of course in Kosovo and then much more problematically in Iraq. And, indeed the latter conflict was to show the difficulties that Whitehall found itself when it aligned, uncritically, with Washington in an intervention of dubious merit. A policy, which gained the UK nothing, rien, zero in terms of any positive benefits. Something that Blair himself never perhaps quite understood or came realize. British support, was merely factored in by Washington, as a given, and, therefore, no thought was ever entertained by the latter concerning any payments for the same. With this in the background, it was not very surprising that soon enough (by perhaps early to mid-2004), British commitment to the conflict in Iraq, and, in particular the the British-ruled areas around the City of Basra, seemed to seriously waiver. With neither enough men nor material, nor indeed the right mix of policies the order of the day. The upshot being that by 2006, Basra and its environs were essentially ungovernable, and, unlike the rest of Iraq, which saw a degree of improvement with the American-lead 'surge' policy commencing in 2007, Basra failed to show any signs of improvements, until the Iraqis and the Americans took the lead in 2008. Indeed, such was the disappointment with British performance in Iraq, that it became commonplace in certain American military and defence circles to refer to a (in the words of one commentator) British 'collapse' and 'impotence' in the Basra campaign (see for this most difficult issue in Anglo-American relations of recent years, see: Patrick Porter, "Last Charge of the Knights? Iraq, Afghanistan and the Special Relationship," in International Affairs (March 2010), pp. 355-376). A state of affairs, which was only redeemed by the subsequent British intervention in Afghanistan in the form of (as of today) 10,000 troops. Many of them in the most difficult province in the entire country: Helmand. With the end result that the United Kingdom has incurred the most causalities of any outside country other than the United States. Which in turn has made the Afghanistan campaign much more unpopular than previously in the United Kingdom. And, which has also highlighted the deficiencies in the equipment provided to the armed forces by the parsimonious Brown government (on the weaknesses shown by the British army in the Helmand campaign, see: Paul Cornish & Andrew Dorman "Blair's wars and Brown's budgets: from Strategic Defence Review to strategic decay in less than a decade,"
International Affairs (March 2009), pp. 733-753).

With all of the above being said, and, of course the problem, nay the almost nightmarish burden of the huge deficit mountain that the financial crisis and Gordon Brown's policies as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997 to 2007 have landed the United Kingdom in, is it very surprising that the only sane and indeed safe choice to make is for the Tory Party under David Cameron? Well, unlike the sixty percent of the British electorate, who disagree with me, I do not believe that there is any other choice than Mr. Cameron. Who whatever his other faults and flaw (see below) is at the very least, a gentleman, an Old Etonian and who one may hope has some of the Tory grandee spirit that once emanated from the likes of Harold Macmillan, and Lords Home and Salisbury. In short he is a one-nation Tory, who seems to understand that (in his own words):

We will never take people with us unless we start with a cut in ministers' pay, a cut in the size of the House of Commons, cuts in the bureaucracy of Whitehall and the quangos. This is important because we need to say to the country there are difficult decisions. I want to lead us through to a better future. I’m going to make sure no one is left behind, that we protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society".

The fact that he also endorsed putting 'Whitehall on a war-footing' to deal with the Afghanistan conflict, with the formation (something absolutely refused under both Blair and Brown) of a "proper war cabinet, sitting as a war cabinet, from day one,"only enhances his appeal (for both see: "Cameron promises to try to 'take the whole country' with him, 2 May 2010, in Of course, ideally from my perspective, I would much prefer someone who is more 'old-school' `a la Enoch Powell & the Monday Club of the seventies and eighties fame. Unfortunately, that is a complete non possumus at this juncture. We are saddled with the faults and flaws of universal suffrage (a most mis-guided and erroneous system), and, I for one do not anticipate any changes to the same, within our collective lifetimes. With all that being said, it seems to me that as compared to such a neophyte as Mr. Clegg (nice background though: the direct descendant of Graf Aleksandr Benckendorf), and, the sub-human Mr. Brown, Cameron sails far and away ahead and thus he has my endorsement.


Post a Comment

<< Home