|Tory Time Is Up||Long-time Conservative Party member Peter Strudwick contemplates getting out|
Old habits die hard, especially if they are bad ones. I should know. I've been a paid-up member of the Conservative Party for nearly 35 years. Throughout this time I freely admit I've been labouring under the delusion that if I, and others who share my opinions, campaigned hard enough we would reach the promised land and herald the dawn of a new political awakening. Such achievements as I personally may be able to claim eight years as a city councillor and four as a borough councillor have had absolutely no effect, of course, on the direction of party policy.
Others with right-wing nationalist credentials no less ardent than my own have trod the same path. At the highest level one thinks of the likes of Enoch Powell, Ronald Bell and Richard Body. At local level the irony is that those of nationalist persuasion abound in their several thousands. They resolutely refuse to leave the Conservative Party. Certainly, constraints on leaving, all of them artificially imposed, exist in many forms: tradition, custom, family membership ties, even social standing, but strongest of all, perhaps, is the deeply ingrained feeling that the Tories alone offer a brake against national decline and the triumph of socialism.
These sentiments are highly irrational and are readily countered by two entirely reverse propositions. The first is that the Tories are as much to blame, if not more to blame, for the advanced state of decadence that characterises so much of our national life as any other political party; the second is that New Labour has disowned socialism as a philosophy of government and embraced, in an opportunistic way, a form of social utility which allows it to rely on buoyant economic conditions, low unemployment and generous social welfare provision to keep the natives happy.
There may be some recent movement as people begin to see through Blair's political chicanery. The Tories should have been able to take advantage of this but they are unable to move away from their obsession with the need to occupy the 'centre ground' of politics, as they see it. I constantly remind myself of an aphorism frequently employed by the late Sir John Biggs-Davison MP (one of the best Tory MPs, Ulster loyalist, brilliant writer and scholarly exponent of the values of nationhood). "He who walks down the middle of the road soon gets run over." J.B-D was a revered figure on the Tory Right. He hated a lack of ideological commitment he described the middle ground as the "triumph of nothingness" and "a wonderful opportunity for the mediocre."
By its failure to articulate a clear ideological position, which ought to be that of Tory nationalism, the Conservatives are proving to be the most uninspired opposition party since the war. The next few weeks will be revelatory because nothing is more calculated to sharpen the political reflexes than the imminence of a general election. The self-loathing condition of the Tory parliamentary party in opposition may fairly be compared with an aspiration towards a right-wing government, basing itself on clearly defined nationalist principles, which is shared by me and, as I have already indicated, thousands of other natural Tory supporters. At any rate, it allows for an analysis in some detail of the deeply rooted differences which exist within the party between the leadership and many among the grass roots.
Vassels of Blair
A good starting point is Iraq. Michael Howard, following the utterly ineffectual Duncan-Smith, has chosen to position the Tories as the faithful vassals of Tony Blair, who, in turn, has proved to be no better than the obedient poodle of George W. Bush. In terms of principle, Howard's posturing is badly misconceived. Apart from alienating hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of potential supporters, it is folly because it takes no account of the doctrine of non-intervention in the affairs of a sovereign independent state (which is essentially a Conservative doctrine), as well as being in breach of international law which, for a declaration of war, requires the concurring votes of the permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations. This was never obtained to legitimise the invasion of Iraq.
Legalities aside, as has often been asserted in the columns of Spearhead, no country should embark upon war without a very good reason for doing so and only where there is a distinct and proven threat to that country's own safety. There may have been an argument in favour of 'hot pursuit' at the end of the first Gulf War but none whatever existed two years ago. Howard's equivocations have demonstrated his lack of leadership quality. Over 80 British soldiers have been needlessly killed in the Iraq conflict and 250 have been injured. By his humiliating subservience to Blair on this issue Howard has betrayed the ideal of parliamentary opposition in debate. In truth, he should have been calling for Blair to be brought before the International Criminal Court at The Hague for waging aggressive war.
Saddam Hussein may have been a harsh dictator but was his rule over Iraq any more severe than that of, say, Bokassa, Mengistu or Mugabe? The end product of this meddlesome venture is the likelihood that there will be inaugurated a Shia hegemony which will lead to a strengthening of Islamic fundamentalism in that region. Now that could be a threat to the safety of Britain.
No less humiliating to this country has been the Tory failure to digest the effect of the various treaties of the European Union: Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice. It is a political contradiction to have given support to these anti-national measures (better described, perhaps, as nation-breaking measures) while proclaiming the iniquities of the Constitutional Treaty. All have as their central purpose the same objective: the transformation of our nation into part of a Federal Union, with the European Commission as the central government of that Union state. Britain will have only such reserved powers as are accorded to it by Brussels. Yet Conservative policy proposals are failing to grasp this reality. Shadow Ministers, particularly John Redwood, who ought to know better, talk and write about the repatriation of powers from Brussels, appearing to believe that within the existing framework of institutions this would be possible. Clearly, the effect of the treaty obligations are not understood. Have they not heard of the acquis communitaire, empowering the Council of Ministers to veto unilateral rejection of specific measures? This doctrine was introduced into the Treaty of Amsterdam.
Further, the onset of qualified majority voting in decision-making diminishes any serious prospect of unilateral rejections. On top of this, the law of treaties is absolutely clear. Pacta sunt servanda treaties are to be observed in their entirety. The European Court of Justice would rule that further British 'opt-outs' could not take place without a substantial majority vote (80 per cent) of member states. Such a vote is exceptionally unlikely.
Does Mr Howard realise or appreciate any of this? He is either ignorant of the details of the European Union or just plain devious. I do not offer an opinion as to which, but if he does have a true love of Britain (which he is incessantly proclaiming from the rooftops) I would expect him to make a seminal pronouncement: that when the British people reject the Constitutional Treaty in early 2006, as assuredly they will, he will campaign vigorously for Britain to leave the European Union at the earliest opportunity. In practical terms he may not be able to lead in this direction before the referendum but with weight of popular opinion likely to be in favour of leaving the EU his mind should be firmly set on this target. He should speak the truth, which is that the entire European political construct is the product of a massive fraud and confidence trick played out on the British people with a shamelessness which defies adequate description. Every accretion of power since 1975 by the European centre has been represented as something fundamentally different from what it is.
However, I do not think Howard exhibits the necessary mettle to make the pronouncement I have described, which would need to be made before the election campaign starts. Of course, it would generate a split; but that is precisely what is needed. Indeed, it is against the background of just such a determination to keep the avowed wishes of our people in check that Howard's recent policy proposals on immigration and asylum should be judged. They have been met with some acclaim by the popular press and have, therefore, opened up something of a debate which is all to the good. But the reality is that they are much too little and far too late to have any usefulness, and have been delivered almost apologetically.
Howard constantly trumpets the contribution of immigrants in their various spheres of life. Well, certainly, doctors, nurses, transport workers and others, as individuals, many of whom have been settled here for decades, work hard and in the main are law-abiding people. Yet none of this has the least relevance to the central issue, which is whether Britain has a continuing vocation to become an increasingly multi-racial and multicultural society. That is a decision which our own people are entitled to make in a referendum. The politicians cannot be trusted to make it on their behalf.
In making that decision the people should weigh up the social consequences of mass immigration in terms of the resources expended on social housing, welfare benefits, educational budgets and the breakdown of law and order in urban communities. I have not the slightest doubt that the balance of advantage is set firmly against continuing immigration into the United Kingdom.
It is salutary to recount from the pages of the London Evening Standard of 16th February four reports (and there were only four altogether) relating to the commission of criminal offences. One concerned a 16-year-old white girl who was snatched off a street in South Norwood and gang-raped by three men "all said to be black." The girl managed to escape after a terrible ordeal lasting over an hour. A second concerned a young black man, Rafik Alleyne, sentenced at the Old Bailey to life imprisonment for the murder of one Andrew Sams, also black, in a drugs feud. Sams had been shot in the head in West Norwood in April 2003. A third report concerned a Harley Street doctor, Fayez Mahfouz, who was struck off by the General Medical Council for having severely burned two women and injuring 60 others, all of whom claimed to have been "badly disfigured." The fourth report involved a science teacher at a Newham comprehensive school, Dr Junaid Sheikh, who was jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court for helping to run one of Britain's biggest counterfeit telephone accessory operations, described as a "family criminal enterprise."
I should emphasise that my recitation of these reports is in no sense intended to suggest that immigrants in general have propensities for criminality (which would be untrue and unfair) but that in proportion to their numbers, immigrants and immigrant-descended communities commit crime disproportionately. This is empirically found to be incontrovertible by several scholarly sociological and criminological surveys. It is an entirely legitimate matter to raise for open debate, yet these uncomfortable truths have as little appeal for Howard as they do for Blair. Indeed, the mere mention of them is calculated to raise the stereotypical cry of 'racism', such is the extent to which intellectual terrorism now overshadows rational debate.
The very minimum policy proposals that the Tories should be presenting to the electorate are: a complete moratorium on all further immigration for five years, after which a review should take place following a national referendum; the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality and Equal Opportunities Commission, both of which are in favour of positive discrimination against whites; the repeal of the Race Relations Act 1976 and Human Rights Act 1998; and the refinement of welfare benefits so that invalidity benefit would be retained but housing benefit, family credit, income supplement, access to the social fund and unemployment benefit would be reduced by 50 per cent. This would be applied uniformly. Inevitably it would lead to substantial voluntary re-emigration in many urban communities.
So far as asylum is concerned, better in reality in the majority of cases described as illegal immigration, the Geneva Convention of 1951 should be abrogated. The rationale of this measure was the protection from persecution of those living under communist regimes. These circumstances no longer pertain. No appeals should be allowed against asylum decisions, and those allowed in should be strictly limited to a minimal number. I would suggest 500 (Howard has indicated he would allow in 15,000). Such persons would need to obtain from the appropriate British Consulate a certificate verifying their bona-fide status procured by affidavit and based upon clear-cut evidence of actual or threatened persecution.
One further issue which falls outside the theme of identity (to which I have addressed myself in this article) is the thoroughly unconservative drift towards social liberalism. Howard himself is at the forefront of this development. It is appalling that the shadow cabinet failed to accept the Tory backbench amendment to the Civil Partnership Bill (now an Act), which would have accorded similar rights to those co-habiting in non-sexual relationships, such as brothers and sisters or other family arrangements. Homosexual rights were attained under the Sexual Offences Act 1967, following the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee. Acts between consenting adults in private would be legalised. That should have been the end of it. Yet by supporting a whole range of liberalising measures the Tories are implicitly attacking marriage because it is the very uniqueness of marriage that makes it the proper institution from which social rights and obligations flow.
Similarly, the Tories' defensive posture on extending drinking hours and opening up more casinos reflects confused thinking. They suppose it enhances 'freedom', whereas it encourages social delinquency, irresponsibility and fecklessness, which are the negation of freedom. It may be added here, following the revelation that vice in London is now almost entirely under the control of the Albanian mafia, that a forthright political position would be to close down this entire racket within 48 hours, round up those operating it and put them behind bars before deportation. Do I think the Tories would ever advocate such measures? No I do not.
Given my antipathy to so much of what today's Conservative Party stands for, should I and others tear up our membership cards? Mine expires in September. For some time I have justified my own continued membership on the impractical argument that the Tories have left me rather than I them. The issue came into sharper focus for me last Sunday in church of all places! The vicar announced the opening hymn: "Awake my soul and with the sun... " a beautiful, rousing hymn the second verse of which runs: "Redeem thy misspent time that's past and utter with a glorious voice..." Yes, our time has indeed been misspent, but whither now? One clear answer would be to join the British National Party, which stands for most of the political virtues; but that is a decision which requires further deliberation and a change in BNP leadership.