Matthew Parris

How Jeremy Corbyn could destroy the Tories (yes, really)

8 August 2015

9:00 AM

8 August 2015

9:00 AM

‘Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?’ asked C.P. Cavafy in his poem ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’:

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

All through your and my life the Labour party have been at the gates of Downing Street, and often enough stormed them, only to be beaten back at a subsequent election. What might happen to the Conservative party if those barbarians disappear?

We must not assume that Jeremy Corbyn will take the Labour leadership. The likelihood remains that when second preferences are counted Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham will scrape through. But theirs would be a miserable victory: humiliated before they even begin. Their party now faces one of two alternatives: a real victory for Mr Corbyn, or a Pyrrhic victory for Ms Cooper or Mr Burnham. The voting begins next Friday, 14 August. Burnham says the Labour party may split and I do not doubt him.

Tories will at first rejoice. The barbarians are fighting among themselves and no longer threaten us! Hurrah! And it is true that a Labour civil war or even disintegration would guarantee the Conservatives’ return to office in 2020. Shall I, then, live (d.v.) under a Tory prime minister until I’m at least 75?

There are reasons to doubt it. At our peril do we underestimate the way Labour’s shadow lurking in the wings has bound Conservatives together. No internal gravitational pull by any one uniting ideal keeps our always-troubled Tory marriage alive: it’s fear of what lies outside our walls that achieves this.


When, aged 20, I arrived at Cambridge in 1969, I did not join the university Conservative association. CUCA was all cravats and ghastly sherry parties, jockeying for office and gossip about big Tory names in London. I knew only that I was not a socialist, that the trade unions were ruining Britain, that I believed in the individual, and that Labour and its levelling and collectivist instincts were part of our country’s problems, not their solution. So I joined two political groupings: Pest (Pressure for Economic and Social Toryism) and the Cambridge Liberal party.

At Liberal meetings I observed that the party was not serious about power. Thus — and purely by elimination of the alternatives — I ended up as a Conservative.

It’s an unspeakable old beast, the Tory party: I often disagree with it and sometimes come close to despair. But I string along, in fear of the barbarians. How many of my country-men — MPs, party members as well as Tory voters — have followed the same path to our party’s gate? Tens of millions, I’ll bet. On the doorstep at this year’s general election my fellow activists and I did sense a surge of support for our candidates, but which of us can honestly say we were smothered by love and trust for our party? We cannot. We cannot claim even that people were much interested in our policies, or knew what they were. Overwhelmingly the doorstep response of our ‘Tory definites’ was ‘Look at the polls! We’ve got to keep those buggers out!’

Those buggers, as Cavafy might put it, have been a kind of solution. Remove fear from the Tory equation, and what holds us together? I’m far from claiming nothing does, but the Conservative party really has three cores. Each to some degree repels the others. Each, shorn of the others, could attract support from outside the party. I go along with some of my Times colleague Tim Montgomerie’s analysis of the political groupings that would better match 21st-century Britain, but my own formulation follows.

There’s undoubtedly a Ukippy strand in Toryism — and there’s more of them in than out. They are, in good and bad ways, somewhat reactionary. They’re deeply patriotic, fierce about defence and hostile to the EU. They’re morally conservative (no gay weddings for them). Their instinct is to support the bosses rather than the workers, they hate tax and are not overly sensitive to the woes of the poor, but they’re not wholly free-marketeers. An orderly market rather than a free-for-all appeals to them. For this group I shall use Tim’s name: the National party.

Then you have a gang that Michael Gove’s former adviser Dominic Cummings could lead, small in number but strong in the power of their energising philosophy. They’re dominated by dislike of government and bureaucracy. They have confidence in the unshackled market. They read Hayek. They were patronised (but less often heeded) by Margaret Thatcher. I’ll call them the Small State party.

Finally you have what I’ll call the One Nation party. We’re a bit wishy-washy, economically fairly liberal but quick enough to intervene if things go wrong; and we worry about the poor. Morally we’re on the permissive side. We may not be mad keen on the EU, but on balance we’d let well enough alone.

These three groups are philosophically further from each other than (say) Ukip and the Tory right; or the ‘Orange Book’ Cleggite Lib Dems and the Tory left. But all co-exist within Conservatism in often-uneasy alliance. Were Labour’s barbarians to depart the gates, then events — those reliable creators of gangs — would soon weld and trademark them. The One Nationers would draw supporters from former Lib Dems and the shattered Labour party. The Nats would bring the kippers back into their fold. The Small Staters would probably migrate both ways: influential more as a diaspora than a movement of their own.

I would see no need for any other political parties in Britain, except for the real left: the Corbynites. And we should be back to three parties again, but parties that better match the nation we now are. The kaleidoscope would have been shaken. We may well see the result.

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Show comments
  • Stephen Lundy

    The Shits, The Wets and the Libertarians were the names in the 1980’s.

  • Adrian

    This vision of the future presupposes that (i) Corbyn is not popular amongst voters and (ii) Conservatives remain more popular (iii) LibDems and UKIP struggle to regain support. We’re only 3 months into a thin majority Tory government. In 2 years time, who knows what might have unfolded?

    • Alexsandr

      UKIP regain support? they got 3.88m votes.

  • Iain Paton

    The Tories should be worried. The austerity narrative is wearing very thin, the Tories have a majority of 12 (although they appear to be ignorant of this limitation), the Tories have already had to shift four votes even before the E-word, and Jeremy Corbyn may well change enough of his spots to become authentically electable. He’s not that far removed from the SNP, which has more than 50% of the vote share in Scotland. And all the current Labour apparachniks did their time in CND etc, no matter how shiny-suited they are now.

    If Harriet Harman hadn’t abstained on welfare, it’s unlikely Corbynmania would have taken off.

    • Alexsandr

      corbymania may be popular in some parts of the labour party. but is there any evidence of a groundswell of opinion backing a hard left agenda in England?

      • Sahaja

        “Hard left” agenda?

        According to YouGov:

        60% of the British public support renationalising the railways vs 20% opposed. (Conservative voters were split 42%/42% on this.)
        There is also considerable support for renationalising public utilities and the post office

        There is 56% support for a 75% income tax rate on incomes over £1m pa vs 31% opposed to this.

        49% support scrapping tuition fees vs 39% opposed

        60% of the public support a mandatory living wage vs 31% opposed

        64% want to see an international convention banning nuclear weapons vs. 21% opposed to this

        So yes there is evidence that the public support at least some of his main policies
        A number of leading economists have apparently backed his anti-austerity economic ideas
        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/23/jeremy-corbyns-opposition-to-austerity-is-actually-mainstream-economics

        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/22/jeremy-corbyn-economists-backing-anti-austerity-policies-corbynomics

        And his suggestion of considering women-only train carriages (opposed by Yvette Cooper) was also suggested by Claire Perry
        Conservative Under-Secretary of State for Transport at the Tory conference in 2014:

        If he keeps himself to those of his policy ideas which have a good deal of public support – and avoids those that don’t – Corbyn might do quite well as leader of the Labour Party and he has already demonstrated an ability to inspire many people who didn’t bother to vote in the last election.

        • Alexsandr

          cant be bothered.
          ancient thread. why dont you post an a current one?
          go into my disqus history and you will see why you are so wrong.
          and posting guardian links wont do. just biased rubbish
          2/10 could do better

  • Craig Ryan

    One group seems to be missing, Matthew: conservatives.

    • Standish79

      Any danger of a more detailed definition, either in the context of Mr Parris’ article or otherwise?

  • ExToryVoter

    Matthew Parris has been totally wrong about pretty well everything in the past. Why should anyone take seriously his musings about how the internal politics of the Conservatives might pan out?

    • Standish79

      He has the benefit of having been elected by the people of his former constituency and a paid column in the Spectator, which neither you nor I have. Purely on the basis of his experience of these internal politics, whether you agree with him or not, his musings are of interest and time will tell whether he is right or wrong.

      • PaD

        High minded with a prurient interest in peoples sexual orientation(Great Lives)
        Yep he’s one o the chosen

      • Alexsandr

        he does not have the manners to read comments tho. He wrote some time ago that comments were beneath him. that puts him the the category of (anagram of newark)

        • Johnny Foreigner

          Isabel Hard is of the same opinion. We bottom feeders in the sea of comments, are a necessary evil to entertain, but the scum of the and not to be communicated with.

        • Johnny Foreigner

          Isabel Hard is of the same opinion. We bottom feeders in the sea of comments, are a necessary evil to entertain, but the scum of the earth and not to be communicated with.

    • Ipsidixit

      He was right about one thing. When he ‘came out’ publicly on BBC radio, (I can still hear the cringe making broadcast) he guaranteed his place among the well remunerated luvvies protected because they belong to a protected minority.

    • Otto von Bismarck

      Peter Hitchens has been saying much the same thing for years now, and he’s usually more often proved right than wrong on these things.

  • trace9

    There was a Sex-Scoundrel
    NOT a Sexy scoundrel
    ‘iz name woz Ted
    Wiv abigfat’ead
    & ‘Ee’d wrap it rightthewayroundyou.

    Yerrr..
    Signed; a Street Urchin; who thanks The Man Above for eliminating horrendous Double-Spacing! (Politics a mite fey tho’.) “.. country-men ..” Better one-word, eh?

  • This article is revealing, but not really in the way you perhaps intended. Of particular interest was this line:

    “Thus — and purely by elimination of the alternatives — I ended up as a Conservative.”

    Not for the first time, Mr Parris, you unwittingly present a more honest face to wet Toryism than any of its other apologists. You share that you have no ideological underpinning. No thought or conviction has gone into your support for your party, merely a fear of the other bloke getting in. And to that end, you are prepared to see your party make whatever compromises are necessary.

    If the EU wishes to swallow this country whole into an emerging German empire and then suck it dry, well, that’s fine, as long as Labour aren’t at the helm. If we get buried under a flood of economic migrants, fine. As long as the man in Downing Street wears blue. If everything Labour would do happens anyway – only worse – (would Labour have eviscerated our armed forces as fast as Cameron has? Doubt it) that’s fine. As long as it’s not Labour doing it!

    This is why so many of us have turned our backs on that party. Let it split. better still, let it just die and be forgotten. That’s what it deserves.

    • Andrew Baxter

      Hear hear. The conservative party needs to die a much deserved painful death.

      • mightymark

        I think – shorn of your S&M terminology – that is what Matthew is arguing!

    • Bertie

      You nail Parris in a nutshell.

      He isn’t a Conservative,in any sense of the word.

      “It’s an unspeakable old beast, the Tory party: I
      often disagree with it and sometimes come close to despair.”

      Adds weight to such a conclusion.

      I’d also challenge his assertion that the Ukippy strange in Toryism is not sensitive to the woes of the poor..but he is correct in claiming that such people are “deeply patriotic, fierce about defence and hostile to the EU. They’re morally conservative (no gay weddings for them). ”

      I am one of those such people myself.

      • He’s from that section of the Tory party that views it as a means to power. If he and his ilk ever did believe in anything, they stopped long ago.

        • George Williams

          I thought that was the whole raison d’etre of the Tory Party, prior to the neo-con idealogues and fascist entryists, that is.

          • One of the consequences of political parties no longer being mass-membership movements is that the weirdos and power-hungry sycophants have more influence in them. These people were always around, it’s just that now all the normal people have buggered off and they’re all that’s left!

      • Otto von Bismarck

        Well, I’m a kipper and I also support gay marriage (and no I’m not gay myself), but other than that you could describe me as ‘deeply patriotic, fierce about defence and hostile to the EU’.

      • Georgina

        Yuk

    • robertsonjames

      And your reply is also unintentionally revealing. Parris made qute clear that his original choice of party was based on certain firm convictions but that he then used them, not unreasonably, to eliminate the other parties that fitted them less well. That’s not the same thing at all as having “no ideological underpinning”. On the contrary, Parris lays bare his core ideological position, as a believer in individualism who repudiates socialism both philosophically and as a set of answers to the questions facing British governments:

      “I knew only that I was not a socialist, that the trade unions were
      ruining Britain, that I believed in the individual, and that Labour and
      its levelling and collectivist instincts were part of our country’s
      problems, not their solution.”

      He really couldn’t have been clearer about his beliefs but your rush to smear him as a man without conviction says an awful lot about your own taste for unquestioning fanaticism. So UKIP, more fawning leadership cult than serious vehicle for government, suits you well.

      • Don’t quit your day job, psychology isn’t your strong suit.

      • ManOfKent

        Individualism? Do tell how does someone who is a member of a party (a collective) demonstrate their individualism? Surely by definition the very act of joining a modern political party contradicts such a belief and is an act of collectivism?

        Furthermore, how does Parris then align his loyalty to a party which heavily whips its elected representatives and ‘who’s levelling and collectivist instincts (both within the party and within the Westminster bubble) is part our country’s problems, not their solution’ with his personal ‘individualism’ [sic]?

        I won’t even bother with the collectivist policies of the current government (e.g. living wage for example).

        Frankly such drivel is the stuff of nonsense peddled by professional politicians across Westminster. Parris sums himself up perfectly though.

        At Liberal meetings I observed that the party was not serious about power. Thus — and purely by elimination of the alternatives — I ended up as a Conservative.

        Parris (like so many ex liberal now Tories) was quite happy to compromise his beliefs in the pursuit of power and just like so many other ‘wishy-washy’ wet Tory centreists he was in it for the power and like so many ‘wishy washy’ Tory centreists when he got that power other than having lax moral and social values and a general laziness and lack of conviction he had no idea what to do with it except wring his hands about the poor.

        • George Williams

          I don’t remember him ever ‘wringing his hands about the poor’; in fact quite the opposite. Even went on T.V. to show everyone how easy life was on the dole; except he found it wasn’t. Perhaps it was just the fashionable thing to do in Thatcher’s Government, as under this one.

    • ManOfKent

      Bravo. Well said. Parris represents everything thats wrong with Cameron’s New Labour Party!

  • Lady Magdalene

    The Nationals should give up on the pro-EU sections of the Conservative Party.

    There is no “leave well alone” with the EU …. there is only a slippery slope to an anti-democratic federal United States of Europe.

    40 years of EU scepticism from inside the party has achieved precisely nothing. A few years of noisy Kippers forced a Referendum out of the Quisling in Chief.

  • DennisMcScumbag

    you don’t get more of a Cuck than Mathew Parris, his political life and personal life back this up.

  • tomgreaves

    A narrative on negative identity: I am not this or that set of values or beliefs…a positive image; but I’m not that or this…a negative image. Toryism has always had a problem with its philosophical foundation; it doesn’t like the ivory tower or the intellectuals who live in them. It’s an instinctual, red-blooded party that rejects too much control. ideology or government interference. Some Tories are more open to the need for social controls and constraints in our global age, and these are the One-Nation wets.

    What Parris fails to take account of in this interesting article, is that Corbyn is resonating with deep passions in a huge number of people, unleashed by the crisis and the way the Tories have responded to it. The LP won’t be breaking up any time soon, because no matter who wins the leadership election the majority of LP supporters and voters will gradually come to understand that Corbyn is not the Marxist the media is painting him as. He is an impassioned man who has that rare gift of guts to fight when all around him have surrendered, who offers hope when his colleagues have sunken into hopelessness and who touches the hearts of people in the same red-blooded way that Tories do. That’s why Corbyn is dangerous to the Tories: because he has all the hallmarks of an authentic, unabashed Brit. All his Left wing theories are subordinate to his passions.; which excite people!

    • balance_and_reason

      ROFL

    • Alexsandr

      ‘Corbyn is resonating with deep passions in a huge number of people’ Is there any evidence for this outside certain factions of the labour party? Or just wishful thinking?

      • Faulkner Orkney

        If laughter is a passion, then he certainly has my resonations!

    • Terry Field

      ”What Parris fails to take account of in this interesting article, is that Corbyn is resonating with deep passions in a huge number of people, unleashed by the crisis and the way the Tories have responded to it.”

      Code for:

      ‘Hordes of people are pissed off that the State will no longer subsidise their unjustified living standard.’
      Diddums.

  • rtj1211

    What if you are a social Liberal, a One Nation Tory, but want out of the EU? Will there be a home for me and others in the Brave New World?

    • No Man’s Land

      Well at least there are two of us.

    • Standish79

      These causes are all clearly pursued within parts of the Conservative Party, but nobody gets their own way on every issue all the time. It encourages debate between the factions, if that’s how they must be described, although I don’t personally see the advantage in labels that are still to broad to represent the range of views that individuals hold or could be persuaded to represent on the doorstep.

  • Chris Morriss

    Why is it, Mr Parris, that everything you write for this increasingly dreary mag, shows that you are not part of the solution, but part of the problem?

  • Felixthecat

    Matthew darling,

    Stop pretending you’re a Tory. There is a party for socially liberal minded people who are stinking rich but feel slightly guilty about it.

    It’s called the Liberal Democrats, you will feel very comfortable there.

    • Alexsandr

      comfortable and lonely.

    • Roger Hudson

      But the Liberal + Social Democrats is/always was a wrong grouping. The Liberals should reassert their individualist, self reliant,anti-statist roots and dump all the perverts and ‘progressives’.
      The SDs can have the chattering Fabian right of old/new Labour and the Labour party can be the party of unionise labour, clear and un-Blairlike.
      The Conservatives can have their factions of old, when i went up to uni., also ’69, there was even ‘The Conservative Monday Club’ and that was at Sussex (believe it).

  • JSC

    Labour has no god given right to exist… or to be the opposition.

    • Mary Ann

      You think the Tories have a god given right to exist?

      • JSC

        Pfthh! No, absolutely not, but they’re not the ones on the brink are they?

        • Alexsandr

          yes they are. if dave mucks up the referendum, or the illegal immigration issue gets worse, or some new nonesense comes out of europe, then there could be ruction in right of centre politics.
          Hammond putting his boot in today saying migration could harm europes standard of living may be the opening shot.

          • JSC

            Sure, well I’ll put it like this, they’re not the ones on the brink for at least another 4-5 years… probably… Labour however appear to be trying to square the circle of appealing to SNP voters in Scotland, Tory voters in England, pro-immigrant leftist Labour voters and ex-Labour UKIP voters…

          • blandings

            There’s more than one circle there I reckon.

          • anonuk

            A sphere?

          • Sahaja

            But if Labour are on the brink now – and the Conservatives may be in 4-5 years – that might give Labour a lot longer to regroup and recover before the next election

          • Terry Field

            You obsess with trivia; you seem unable to see the wood for the trees.

          • Johnny Foreigner

            Immigration? So what’s the tipping point then for worse?

  • Sean Grainger

    Having become addicted to bridge my reading is slipping so late to this. Great opening quote Mr P and happy birthday.

  • salt_peter

    The article completely ignores the strong cross-party EU poison that has bedevilled British politics since at least the time of Harold Macmillan.

    The days of Labour asininity followed by Conservative ‘patriotic safe pair of hands’ (no longer, alas) ended with the likes of Heseltine and Clarke.

  • Dr Corvus

    Well, I’m pretty much in the One Nation slot – except I think the EU has not been at all good for Britain or the rest of Europe (e.g. Greece) and we should out; oh, and I think the whole PC religion is a crock.

    I’m mixed race (don’t think that means I have a duty to be pro-open borders), and my view of homosexuality is that it’s A-OK (I think the marriage question is complicated, but those complications have been politically squashed for the present). Where do I fit? Probably UKIP. Which is where I am.

  • Clive

    The present is for the young
    The future is for the middle-aged
    The past is for the old

    You are 73 days younger than Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not enough.

    Jeremy Corbyn keeps on saying that he is being carried along by ‘young people’ (that’s not you is it ?). Young people of today – one of whose favourite words is ‘retro’. Not much is more retro than Jeremy Corbyn.

    So Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour Party leadership (probably not – because of 2nd preferences, he would have to win in the first round – but for the sake of..). The young find issues not yet thought of by young Jeremy and ask him what he thinks that’s relevant to modern times.

    What he thinks that’s relevant to modern times is not much because that’s not his favourite pastime. He is still thinking what he thought 30+ years ago. The young get bored and wander off. Labour dies for want of the young who have gone to UKIP because it’s more retro. I should know, I’m a member and I’m older than you or Jeremy by a couple of years.

    The old have dozed off in whatever political place they started. The middle aged have other things to worry about. Come election time they vote for whoever will deal with their latest problem. Could be anyone.

    That’s because the most interesting phenomenon of the last 2 or 3 years has been the partial destruction of party tribalism. UKIP started it. We have a lot of Labour and Tory tribalists (who are no more).

    Now Jeremy Corbyn is focussing a spotlight on the heart of the original Labour tribe because that’s where his policy ideas live. No political ideology stands close examination. Look at the Republicans in the USA.

    So Labour will get a lot of its support shaken loose, even if it doesn’t yet leave.

    We may get a new ‘Left’ party made out of relics like Jeremy. They have one in Germany. We may get another SDP which Liz Kendall leads. She seems to have a lot of sauce and if people have started nasty rumours about her she must be worth something.

    Yvette Cooper goes back to being a journalist and Andy Burnham goes back to being nobody with the Miliband brothers. Perhaps they could form a barbershop quartet with Stephen Kinnock

    It’s more likely than 3 Tory parties.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Parris is on to something. One could make a case for Corbyn winning the 2020 general election as follows: Labour’s support in 2015 was only from hard core who will go nowhere else; a hard left platform will attract Green and SNP voters back to Labour; Cameroons become complacent and arrogant, losing what love they have amongst the electorate; the EU referendum will further divide the Tories, pushing more to UKIP. It’s looks a long shot but then so Corbyn a month ago.

    • Roger Hudson

      Not to mention people like the train drivers who voted UKIP yet want a party of unionised labour.

    • Corbyn is not such a long shot to win. He doesn’t have to worry about Scotland as both Scottish Labour and SNP will back him. As will the Welsh Nationalists and the LibDems and the one Green.

      He therefore only needs to win about 45 seats in England and Wales. He’s likely to attract a lot of people who did not vote in the last election, particularly younger people and those that campaign, sign online petitions and those saddos that follow Russell Brand. Plus he’ll get many of those voting for a non-system candidate – this will include some of the marginal UKIP voters.

      This is dependant on how much open warfare there by the factions within the Tory party, Heathrow, Europe, Immigration etc and how effective a Blairite revolt within the Labour Party will be – ironically the latter could help Corbyn.

      Unfortunately, we live in interesting times and I see the 2020 election with two fragmented parties fighting it out. The voter will not know what his or her preferred party actually stand for – as both sides will be vague and lying to the public.

  • Ipsidixit

    Finally, in Matthew Paris, we have someone who is even more self righteous than Camila Batmandreary.

  • Nigel Farrage

    If the Tories keep telling lies ( e.g Party of Law and Order. Party of controlled immigration, Party of ‘protecting Britain’s boarders’)… I suspect anyone can beat them at the 2020 election…” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”…Fool me 3 times..Damn you, I will vote for anyone but you.

    • Alexsandr

      i hope you mean ‘protecting british borders’ !!

      • Nigel Farrage

        thanks for pointing that out…corrected.

    • George Williams

      They’re Tories. They can’t stop telling lies.

  • Michael Burke

    Matthew “Aardvark” Parris! You really are a fool.

  • Freddythreepwood

    Is that a poem!? Whatever happened to ‘The boy stood on the burning deck………’?

  • Terry Field

    The article suggests the Conservatives will fracture when the threat and the discipline of the labour Party is no longer there.
    Improbable, but possible.
    The Conservative Party is ancient, almost pre-industrial, and attracts because it appeals to the major strands of british social and economic life; it appeals to the requirement for pragmatic intelligence; it attracts because it is not rooted in an essentially Continental European tradition of intellectualising political ideas and concepts.
    Britain does that badly, because it is clever enough to realise that reality is a shifting sand; no edifice of political ideas can withstand a removal of foundations. Because of its wisdom, it sees that old fraud Marx for what he is. An irrelevance.
    The French do not see this. Look at the result – repeated disaster as the formulae fail in the glare of new realities.
    Socialism was a growth on the body of the industrialising world; a response to the violence, the newness, the disturbances that flowed in ways nobody had begun to imagine.
    All that is past.
    New problems, such as climate change resource depletion and human excess population are falsely bolted onto old political ideas; that will cause us to lose much precious time. To the point where the difficulties become intractable.
    Didactic nonsense will yet continue to cause the deaths -not this time of millions – but very probably of billions of people.
    And countless species.

  • Tom M

    Interestingly Matthew Parris has just described how the French political system more or less functions. They never have had the “big two” (or three if we’re kind) parties which rising stars have associated themselves with as we have had (and some French politicians have lamented this fact).
    It has always been the French way for some charismatic figure, such as De Gaulle, to seek election by starting his own party, as Sarkozy is doing right now.
    The only difference in Matthew Parris’ conjecture is that he has created the parties before the charismatic figures have appeared. Wouldn’t do to be too much like the French would it.

    • justejudexultionis

      France has always lurched from autocracy to anarchy. The constitution of the Ve. République gives far too much power to the President. The French Revolution was mostly a disaster. France just is not a good political model for anybody, least of all this country.

      • Tom M

        I could probably agree with all of that. The 5me Republique was designed to give more power to the President as the 4me’s problem was perceived as having too little power for the President. You pays your money……..
        When you look at the comparative development of the UK and France their Revolution doesn’t seem to have made much difference other than to give the French a pride in being revolutionists.
        Those politicians I have read of and spoken to admit that their occasionally somewhat fragmented political system lacks the capacity of the UK system in it’s ability to withstand political shocks and adverse conditions.

  • RedMiner

    The loss of the Labour Party would be a small price to pay if it guaranteed the destruction of the Tory Party.

    Nothing else could so benefit Britain and its people than an end to its iniquitous presence in national politics. Nothing else has had such a malign influence throughout our history. Nothing else would set our people free so much as the Tory party in the dustbin of history.

    One of the richest countries in the world can’t even feed its people without foodbanks in 2015. A failed state, except for the 1%.

    • justejudexultionis

      Amen to that.

  • John Andrews

    Parris forgets the most important strand in British political history: the Classical Liberalism of Lord John Russell, Gladstone and Lloyd George: let the money fructify in the hands of the people; don’t interfere in other people’s countries; share power with the people.

  • Kaingang

    Lukily England has no socialism in its Dna, Corbyn will pass, it does not matter if as leader of Labour or of a new left wing party. Long life to the only real party in the country (Tory).

    • Sten vs Bren

      “England has no socialism in its Dna”

      Utter balls. Here’s another one for the collection:

      ‘My good friends, things cannot go on well in England, nor ever will until everything shall be in common, when there shall be neither vassal nor lord, and all distinctions levelled; when the lords shall be no more masters than ourselves. How ill they have used us!’

      John Ball. c.1370

  • Tamerlane

    Silly.

  • Singularis

    I think the Nats as Parris calls them would come int the UKIP fold in the event of a split, it has for some time been a better vehicle for social conservatism, law & order and Brexit than the Tories, they are just stubborn. may be a few small-state advocates join too, Carswell did.

  • Dan O’Connor

    A pox on both their houses

  • Ron

    Before the last election it was mooted the Con Lab mating was not impossible in face of UKIP winning a number of seats. The article bears this out. What is worrying is that our government has no intention of putting the people’s will first.

  • Isage000

    Electing Cameron as leader and ‘modernising’ the Conservative Party aping Blairite ‘progressive’ policies like climate change was a huge error of judgement. It alienated and still insults traditional conservatives including large numbers of grass roots activists. Without this arrogant self-inflicted experiment there would have been no hemorrhaging of support to UKIP in the first place.

    The recent 4m UKIP vote, (1/3 of the total Tory vote) could have given the Conservatives a thumping Thatcher type endorsement under a strong Thatcherite leader. and the smear campaign waged against UKIP by CCHQ was one of the most spiteful vindictive disgraces ever seen in this country, against natural allies.

    • Sten vs Bren

      The UKIP vote is not a Tory vote. Tory pertains to the Tory (Conservative) Party. I guess you mean ‘right wing vote’.

      Also, you rightly complain about a smear campaign but then add then peach about ‘natural allies’. Surely, you think that there should not be smear campaigns, at all? Quite what your ‘alliance’ with the smearers would win you, beats me.

      • Isage000

        You have I think missed my point, which tried to surmise the result if the UKIP phenomenon had not happened.

    • coppe

      Climate change is a physical reality not a policy choice. It does not surprise me, though, that some on the right feel alienated and insulted by physical reality.

      On the other hand, true traditional conservatives are more pragmatic and are willing to recognise and adapt to changing physical realities.

      • Isage000

        Of course climate change is a reality, and always has been through geological time, but that does not excuse torquing scientific interpretations to indulge in a radical political agenda recently summarised by the present Energy Secretary as ‘a cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism”.

  • DomesticExtremist

    It’s nice to know that the Tory collective has as much disdain for democracy as the Blairite collective.
    If Corbyn wins, maybe the two might climb gingerly into bed together – you surely deserve each other.

  • Pionysius

    There’s something missing here, which is that purity is a Left thing. Tony Blair was meant to be a great leader but is now regarded as the devil incarnate. The highest hope for Cameron, by contrast, is that he will not be quite as cr-p as Brown, Blair, Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson and Heath. Perhaps Macmillan was also not as cr-p as his peers but that’s well before my time. So there we have it, we can be contented with “not quite as cr-p as the rest” and that itself is a good unifying factor.

    • George Williams

      Cameron already failed spectacularly in that respect.

      • Pionysius

        Don’t agree. Name a PM who was less cr-p than Cameron (Maggie doesn’t count).

  • ManOfKent

    What surprises me about this article is he makes the ‘National Party’ sound so much more attractive than his own wishy washy rabble of morally lax, ideologically uncommitted and idle wets who only come a running when the economy hits the buffers.

  • Brad.80

    What about us neocons ?

    • ManOfKent

      Shhhhhhh nobody talks about those warmongers since Bush got kicked out.

      • Brad.80

        Would rather go to war with terrorists than appease them, don’t know if that is warmonger really ?

  • Isage000

    Why nine sickly acorns?

  • Jonathan Tedd

    It’s about the money you silly lot.

    When we have the true delfationery collapse after decades of socialist Keynesian economic policy due any minute now and certainly under Cameron then you will see the people (having no wealth left – house price collapse, share price collapse) will vote the man promising “no austerity” and “jobs for all”.

    Don’t forget our institutional leaders and advisors didnt see it coming in 2008. Wake up! Look at China and be very afraid.

  • Ace89

    So what you mean to say is that Corbyn supporters, the SNP and all, are correct when they term the Blairites Tory lite?

  • Ace89

    Interesting thoughts though.I would categorize the “real” main parties as thus:

    Labour Party: Socialist, left wing party allied with the Trade Unions, Eurosceptic. Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Jones.

    Social Democratic Party: Labour’s centrists + Lib Dems left. Keynsian economics, Social Market Economy, pro-EU. Andy Burnham, Gordon Brown, Tim Farron.

    Social Liberal Party: Free trade, pro-business, minimal welfare state. Blairites + Liberal Tories + Orange Book Lib Dems. Tony Blair, David Cameron, Nick Clegg.

    Tory Party: Social conservatism, corporatism, royalist, anti-immigration, Eurosceptic, patriotic: Nigel Farage.

    Libertarian Party: Free trade, anti-establishment, small government. David Laws, Douglas Carswell

  • It seems that none of these three groupings has read much Corelli Barnet. The ‘poor’ need to be removed from economic fear.. at least in a democracy (for practical reasons) or any culture basing itself on Judeo Christian values (for moral ones). However you do that, it has to be done before the systemic problems can be addressed. It is a generational job involving investment in proper training and education for industry and in plant and equipment. It needs to be organised by cooperation between government and private industry. The Bismarkian model offers the best hope and could have led to German domination of (at least) Europe, had not Kaiser Wilhelm thrown it all away.

    The best hope this country had since the war was Enoch. The best hope we have left is Patrick O’Flynn, but given the kind of country we are and the amount of wrong turns we’ve taken, suddenly doing the right thing now would be a significant change of course

  • Pete

    I really fed up with the whole Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn debate. This site seems to have the best approach to the whole issue by making a costume to create a bit of comedy over how much people are moaning about Corbyn. See https://www.fancydresscastle.co.uk/jeremy-corbyn-the-incredible-labour-sulk-costume.html

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