From Nasty to Nat C?

Conservatives celebrating in 2019

This article looks at how far and how fast the Conservative Party has shifted to the extreme right, and what we can do about it:

  • Leading Conservative Party members have been warning us for a long time about the extremist trends in their party;
  • It is not just economic policies that have become extreme: they have adopted extreme right-wing positions on social and democratic issues;
  • It is still not too late to rescue Britain from a Nat-C future.

Leading Conservative Party members have been warning us

When, in 2002, Theresa May warned her party that

“Yes, we’ve made progress, but let’s not kid ourselves. There’s a way to go before we can return to government. … You know what some people call us: ‘the nasty party,’”

there were already signs that the party had drifted towards a brutally amoral position.

And the willingness to “take difficult decisions” – ie decisions which would ruin the lives of ordinary people – under Cameron and Osborne was shocking.

But after Brexit, the drift to the right became a dash, as Philip Hammond and others warned us at the time.

Johnson pulled together a cabinet dominated by market fundamentalists; and when his corruption and lies were costing the Conservatives in the polls, so that his own party decided to get shot of him, all the leading contenders to replace him were graduates of the far-right Tufton Street think tanks. The far-right had moved from being a few “swivel-eyed loons” among the activist base to being in full control of the party.

Liz Truss went so far to the right that the Financial Times concluded:

“The government may have adopted the most extreme [right wing] economic position of any major party in the developed world.”

And although Sunak is less obviously unhinged than his predecessor, he is no less extreme in his aspirations.

Even Max Hastings, the former editor of the Telegraph is horrified by the rightward movement:

“What’s heart-breaking … is that our country does seem in the eyes of the world increasingly ridiculous. … ‘what has this country done to itself over the last 15 years?’ … The [extreme] right is now running Britain and it’s a terrifying sight. … For the sake of the Conservative Party and for Britain, they’ve got to go.”

It is not just economic policies that have become extreme

In 2021, Ken Clarke pointed out that,

“We are dangerously close to the ‘elected dictatorship’ that Lord Hailsham, the former Lord Chancellor, warned us about half a century ago.”

And with the Elections Act bringing in voter ID requirements, which David Davis called “an illiberal solution in pursuit of a non-existent problem” we could see that Clarke was right.

At the time, the Conservatives denied that this was an attempt at voter suppression, but Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed that it was, though it may have backfired. This was at a “National Conservatives” conference – a name that seems designed to abbreviate in a very disturbing way.

The Elections Act was just one in a series of Acts designed to remove our democratic safeguards.

We no longer even have the right of peaceful protest. Even our most basic human rights have been under attack.

On April 1, we published a satire explaining the variety of not-very-democratic ways a failing government could cling to power. Even just a few weeks later, it looks like a disturbingly accurate summary of today’s Conservative Party strategy.

It is not too late to rescue Britain from a Nat-C future

We could be forgiven for getting very worried. But the truth is, the Conservatives are now far more fragile than they would like us to believe. Look how much has changed since this article was written.

And current polls suggest that they are in grave trouble, heading for a collapse at the next General Election. But the polls can move, the media will largely support the Conservatives – probably including the BBC – so there is no room for complacency.

An alternative administration, even one which is just averagely good, would make a transformative difference to Britain:

“We should now be living in a relatively prosperous, well-governed country. We should be about 10 per cent better off than we are today: wages should be higher and public services should not be on the brink of collapse. We should have the resilience to deal with the energy price rises as other countries have done. The gap between rich and poor should be smaller than it is today. And 144,000 more of us should still be alive. Each new generation should, on average, have better opportunities than the generation before. The government should be investing to provide healthcare and to tackle the climate emergency.”

Mark E Thomas

So as voters we need:

  1. To make sure we will be allowed to vote under the new rules;
  2. To use that vote to prevent another Conservative win – even if that means voting for a party we might normally not support;
  3. To make as many others aware of the dangers as we can.

And if you would like to help more, take a look at the 99% Organisation and join us.