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Liberal or Conservative: time to decide

Throughout my time as a member of the Conservative Party one figure has been uncritically worshipped, idolised even, and has been given a transcendental status compared to the other former leaders of our time. I am of course referring to the iron lady, Mrs Thatcher. She will always be remembered as a political heavyweight who came to symbolise the “glorious” neo liberal takeover of British politics. The Conservative Party have enshrined the idea of the market and the individual giving them a quasi-religious status with Mrs Thatcher herself pronouncing that ‘there is no society’.

For those of you without the ability to read hyperbole and sarcasm, I am not one of those converted to the church of Mrs Thatcher. I would go as far to say that Mrs Thatcher is not a conservative at all, but a rather different creature, a libertarian. The founding thinkers of conservativism such as Edmund Burke would have shuddered when Mrs Thatcher proclaimed that ‘there is no society’, and then would have look on in bemusement when Mrs Thatcher was supposedly seen as conservative. Through these Burkean eyes of mine, I feel that Mrs Thatcher and her unintended legacy is not only wrongly affiliated with conservative ideology, but also a burden on it.

The human condition is one of fumbling through the dark, one which disregards a homogenous pattern. The only consistency which we can observe from human nature is that we are all fallen depraved creatures to one extent or another. For this reason as conservatives we should reject any all-encompassing grand theories which explain away our world, this includes Thatcherism. We should be humbler than to think we can master the world. Change should be cautious and made in order to conserve what we know as good from our inherited system of beliefs, our practices and our institutions which are tried and tested. The nature of these thing and virtues they uphold precede us and will exceed us, unlike us, they are not perishable. They are what connects us to the past and future. A neo liberal world based off the whims of the market conserves nothing.

Mrs Thatcher abandoned this conservative disposition without the realisation that we only see the effects of our actions in the distant future. The full nature of this abandonment we only see today. Thatcherism has led the conservative movement down a slippery slope. One which has utterly abandoned social conservatism. As a result society is driven by this individualistic hedonistic legacy. The western tradition has been lost, our Christian faith abandoned, and one nation conservatism is dead. In its place is a hedonistic pit of depravity. Burkes prophetic fears have come to fruition.

The societal moral code has been abandoned for a subjectively individual narrative. Sex is no longer a private affair but instead proudly dominates our television, unlike the accompanying teen pregnancy rate. The family has been destroyed and replaced with fatherless homes and broken families. Law and order is no longer respected, even the prisons have become drug addled messes. Our constitution is in a mess with the nonsensical changes, such as Blairs introduction of a supreme court when he abandoned our own traditions and chased Americas. No wonder parliament overrules the people when all social ties have been burnt. Its hardly shocking that we lost our nation to European dominance when we have lost our national values, identity and its very soul. Our beliefs, practices and institutions are all in despair and left fallen by the wayside. But at least Thatcherism creates GDP growth. In the words of Oscar Wilde, Thatcherism is ‘knowing the price of everything, but the value of nothing’.

My bone to pick is not with Mrs Thatcher per se, but with the extreme individualism within society she created and its legacy. Thatcher will always be remembered warmly as a strong leader who stood with integrity for what she believed in. The iron lady who stood up to the dangerous ideologies of the USSR and the trade unions. She was not purely the first female prime minister, but also the longest serving prime minister of modern times. Mrs Thatcher and her achievements should be celebrated, but her legacy should not be idolised. We must remember to go forward with caution, to preserve the best parts of our society and to try claw back some of our values and some of our identity as we try to make Britain great again.

Joel Clough

Member Views is a series of opinion pieces written by Blue Beyond members.