The Sunday Poast
All the Views What's Fit to Print
Welcome to The Sunday Poast, a weekly round up of things I’ve been reading I’d like to share and highlight to help build up a picture of what the collective mission and purpose of conservatives should look like. That means explaining what road we’re on, how we got there and where we’re going - ideally, a conservative Britain fit for the 21st Century.
This week I wrote a piece for The Critic called ‘The New Right.’ In it I argue that National Conservatism can provide a coherent, conservative answer to many of the problems ahead: a stronger nation state, a more cohesive polity, a landscape of value for every life - but it cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
Also keep your eyes on ConHome, where I’m making my debut this week with a piece bemoaning the failure of Help-to-Buy as it finally ends.
The country has become notably less Conservative in the decade plus that Conservatives have been in power. That’s largely because we have failed to prevent the almost wholesale progressive takeover of institutions - but also because, through the kindness of our hearts and the softness of our brains, this progressive weaponization of institutions has been funded by you and me, the taxpayer. I don’t care what people say: Matt Goodwin is right.
In The Telegraph, Nick Timothy takes on the fundamental need for Conservatives to reclaim our institutions including (imagine!) making cultural arguments and changing laws:
In a liberal democracy, and a country in which a commitment to pluralism has brought peaceful coexistence for centuries, a diversity of beliefs and a dispersal of power is a fact of everyday life. We do not expect all power and influence to reside with the state. But what we see now is something different to what we have known before.
Ideological beliefs are imposed on the public not only without a democratic mandate but in direct contradiction to the mandate the voters have given to governments. The police often refuse to police, schools teach inappropriate curriculum content, and public bodies openly talk about the pursuit of “equity” not equality. Charities and cultural institutions – which depend on public money – condescend to the public and oppose and obstruct vital action, from the deportation of illegal immigrants to the construction of new infrastructure.
What social change?
A while ago I wrote that any future conservativism ‘will recognise that importing cheap foreign labour is not a sustainable way to run an economy, and recognises that diversity also comes with costs. It will recognise that a border unenforced through weakness is the sign of a failed state, not a testament to toleration.’
On his Substack, Ed West reflects on a book he wrote ten years ago, The Diversity Illusion, the argument of which has, it seems, become more relevant since it was written (and which I immediately went out and bought):
My basic premise was — and still is – that diversity is like most things, good in moderation but beyond a certain point bringing more downsides than benefits. And because it has become such a sacred topic, moralised like no other, diversity was inevitably going to increase beyond that point; there is no taboo on saying that Britain should be ‘more diverse’ as there is on saying it should be ‘more white’. There is no end point, where it is permissible to say ‘enough’; it is an unstoppable force meeting a moveable object…
The book was written around the time of the 2011 census, and as of the 2021 headcount the capital of England is now 36.8% white British, down from 44% ten years ago, following a rapid transformation in the past five decades; England as a whole is under 75% white British, down from 87.5% in 2001. Even without vastly accelerated immigration under the Tories, that trend is going to accelerate. This is the greatest transformation in British history for centuries; for better or worse, its impact will be vastly more important than that of Brexit. And it is one that most opinion-formers treat with either glee or insouciance, and to which even the Conservative Party’s response is ‘so what?’
I wrote a long time ago about Doomposting, arguing ‘it isn’t just wailing that Britain’s challenges seem so great, but at the want of courage and ability to tackle them.’The lack of intellectual grounding in the modern Conservative Party is a big part of that problem.
Conservatives need a renewal and that requires new thinkers to offer new visions. The recently departed Nigel Lawson offers a model for how those leaders need to offer up their ideas but, as John Oxley writes in The New Statesman today’s conservatives are, by and large, pygmies compared to his towering intellect:
In Lawson’s speeches, he not only name-checks conservative thinkers but is deeply familiar with their arguments. He sat at the intellectual heart of Thatcher’s government, imbuing it with the spirit of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek and understanding how to adapt this to the party of Edmund Burke. He was able to develop a form of conservatism for the challenges of the 1970s and 1980s, rather than relying on repetition of his forebears or chasing the trends of the daily news cycle. Like many of those in Thatcher’s cabinet, he was perhaps informed by his eastern European Jewish heritage – a suspicion of the big state not simply because it meant higher taxes, but because of its power to control and kill, whether run by tsars, Nazis or socialists.
Lawson offered a philosophical depth that recent Tory governments have lacked. Often the party has seemed to seek power without a plan of what to do with it – listing between fashions as leaders come and go. No one in recent Tory generations has matched Lawson. While many are conventionally smart, and some, like Liz Truss, sincerely ideological, they have lacked the curiosity and depth that allowed Lawson to burst through existing orthodoxy and craft something new in its place.
With the news that NIMBYs may have won after 50+ local authorities suspended their development plans, arguments for building more houses need to become louder and more vociferous. Home ownership is not just an economic and political necessity, but a moral imperative; our failure to deliver enough supply of homes has held up a whole generation on the road to home ownership and to leading the kind of lives that make people conservative.
Politically, that ticking time bomb of intergenerational disparity is about ready to blow, with a whole generation on the losing side refusing to move rightwards as they age. In The Telegraph, Sam Dumitriu writes an excellent analysis of why:
One study by Cevat Giray Aksoy, an economist at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development found that, all things being equal, a 10 per cent increase in house prices leads to an almost 5 per cent fall in the birth rate among renters, and 1.3 per cent fall in the overall number of births.
His study is no outlier. Studies from Australia, Sweden and the US all find that high house prices lead to parents having kids later. In fact, the last study found that the impact of being in an expensive housing market was a three-to-four-year delay in the age at which people have kids. As the authors of one paper put it: "The more expensive an extra bedroom is, the more expensive it is to have more (or any) children…”
This trend should concern us all, but it should be particularly worrying for the Conservatives. In the past, young people drifted right of centre as they had kids and became home-owners. Even in 2019’s landslide election win, the age at which people switch from Labour to the Conservatives was 39. It is telling that last month saw the launch of a new pressure group, Next Gen Tories, listing its mission as driving up Conservative Party membership among the under 45s, not the under 30s.
What cover up?
I have always found it incredibly difficult to talk about grooming or abuse of children. My mother was a child protection social worker and through her I know a little about the devastating impact those actions have; thinking about that being inflicted on some of the most vulnerable, defenceless people in our society makes me either deeply upset or uncontrollably angry, and I find I’m not much use in a debate.
Behind every headline, TV appearance and think piece there are children and families whose lives will never be the same. Any obfuscation around trying to prevent this happening to more girls is a monstrous inhumanity, and we should scandalise those who try to. Unfortunately, as Allison Pearson writes in The Telegraph, that includes one of the major political parties in Britain:
The Labour Party is mired in shame over “cultural sensitivity”, which always means sensitivity to one culture and one culture alone, and it sure as hell isn’t the culture of white working-class girls. One thing we can say with total confidence is that there has never been a white girl so distraught, so despicably abused, so trafficked or so tortured that Labour has not been prepared to sacrifice her on the altar of preserving their Muslim block vote.
That is the depth of collusion and depravity we are talking about here. It is a monstrous stain on our nation. No wonder Suella Braverman came under attack from the Left this week. Promoting the Tories’ new policy of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse (a sensible idea), the Home Secretary was brutally honest about the cancer of grooming gangs and their composition. “There is a predominance of certain ethnic groups – and I say British Pakistani males – who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values,” she said, “Some of these councillors in Labour-run areas over a period of years have absolutely failed to take action because of cultural sensitivities.”
The Sunday Papers
CapX have republished two papers by Nigel Lawson, The New Conservativism and The New Britain, which show how his masterful command of Conservative intellectual tradition, policy and the challenges of the day combined to provide a sincere and coherent ideological platform for the Tories - something we could well do with once more:
All that is new is that the new Conservatism has embarked on the task – it is not an easy one: nothing worthwhile in politics is; but at least it runs with rather than against the grain of human nature – of re-educating the people in some old truths.
At Parent Data, Emily Oster has produced an interesting short summary of the data available to take a look at the impact of paternity leave on children. Family policy has been something of a blind spot for me until recently so I’m enjoying discovering more and hating discovering how much we’ve got wrong:
I read the results as broadly consistent with enforced paternal leave leading to more fathers’ involvement with children. In turn, this has implications for household work, for earnings, for the fertility choices the families make. The marital dissolution results from Sweden suggest this is not entirely uncomplicated; changing the way that families work is not always smooth.
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