GOP Missing the Tory Memo

Monday, July 08, 2024

David P. Deavel, a senior contributor to The Imaginative Conservative, analyzes the recent horse-whipping of the Tories in Britain.

The Good: Deavel looks past the number of seats won by each party to see that, while Parliament has a decisive Labour majority, the electorate haven't exactly become loony left pod people overnight:

What happened to the Tories? The short answer is that, to channel Barry Goldwater, they offered an echo, not a choice. They were not really defeated by the Labour Party, which only captured about 35% of the votes; they were defeated by themselves. As British polling expert Sir John Curtice explained, "the party's share of the vote is the lowest won by a post-war single party government." It was lower than any of Tony Blair's three victories and five percent lower than Jeremy Corbyn's 2017 Labour victory. While Labour gained 17 points in Scotland (at the expense of the SNP), its percentage of the vote in Wales dropped four percent and gained only a half-percent in England.

Where did those Tory votes go? Nigel Farage's Reform UK party gained a mere five seats, including Farage himself, but they played a decisive role in knocking out a lot of Conservative parliamentary candidates -- including the fairly conservative sitting member Jacob Rees-Mogg. Because of fairly strategic voting on the left, the Liberal Democrats gained 60 seats... [bold added]
This jibes with Yaron Brook's take, in which Brook elaborates that Reform UK and the Conservatives, in contrast to the left, split the vote in many constituencies.

Deavel is right that the Conservatives got punished for being Labour Lite, rather than presenting a real alternative.

The Bad: Brook notes in his podcast (embedded above) that the Tories took the kind of defeat the Republicans need to suffer (and he wishes they suffered in 2016 or 2020), namely one that would cause soul-searching and the chance for a serious course-correction.

Deavel sounds at first like someone who might not need a remedial course in the School of Hard Knocks. Doesn't this sound like someone who really gets a choice, not an echo?
[A]s John O'Sullivan observed in a review of a book on British politics by British political scientist Matthew Goodwin, "since 2010 the two major parties have found agreement on the progressive side of such issues as zeroing out greenhouse gases (Net Zero), the COVID lockdown, and (for some) Brexit." "That alone," O'Sullivan added, months before the elections, "explains the Tories' internal collapse and the unusual phenomenon of a mass movement of hitherto Tory voters expressing disgust toward their old party and a wish for its defeat and even disappearance."
How is this bad? you might ask. Deavel only sounds like he has gotten the message, but he really hasn't, which brings us to...

The Ugly: After a gratuitous slap at same-sex marriage (which I believe isn't as controversial in Britain as it is in the U.S., and shouldn't be, anyway), he ends up here, on modern Trumpist talking points:
Three out of the four are directly applicable to American political life. Hyper-globalization and industrial decline, mass immigration without a democratic mandate, and an insular, careerist laptop class are exactly what we suffer from on this side of the pond...
To top this all off, there is nary a peep about government spending or the national debt, which both threaten our country's security and prosperity, and on which Donald Trump was worse than a mere echo, as argued by the likes of Veronique de Rugy and John Stossel. Trump went with the lockdowns and outspent Biden.

Setting aside its theocratic agenda for a moment: America's GOP is too busy pushing its versions of such left-wing plagues as protectionism, central planning ("industrial policy"), and welfare statism (masked by xenophobia) to notice that it is the Tweedledum to the Democrats' Tweedledee.

And attacking bureaucrats as the "laptop class" is a lazy, sloppy way to skirt around the need to rid ourselves of the gross violation of individual rights and threat to economic freedom that is central planning; a brazen attempt to pander to the same know-nothing rabble leftists do; and an admission that one is out of better ideas to compete with the left.

Anyone from the classical liberal/limited government/"fiscal conservative" tradition will look at America's GOP and wonder: Who needs the Democratic Party when we already have Trumpist Republicans?

-- CAV

No comments: