The Sunday Poast
There is some truth in the world, though it is in short supply.
Welcome to The Sunday Poast, a weekly round up of things I’ve been reading I’d like to share and highlight.
The Sunday Poast will 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 - which I’d like to be a conservative Britain fit for the 21st Century.
What's wrong with conservativism? What's wrong with Conservatives? Where to start? Why not with me on the Theory Matters podcast, where I spoke with host Sam Mace about the Tories’ Thatcher cult, the professionalisation of western politics, Government by Quango, how to restore a conservative way of life & the death of right/left politics. The new definition of easy listening.
I also published ‘Government by Quango’, which looks at David Cameron’s failure to create a permanently streamlined state. It’s the 1st of a 3 part series looking at the austerity agenda and how some of the missed opportunities, mismanagement and political choices of that programme lead to the managerial politics of today. If you’d like to read the series, make sure to subscribe below!
The recent furore around Rishi’s threat to pull Britain out of the ECHR reminds us what a truly wondrous thing to behold the parliamentary Conservative Party is ; it has fought every election for the last 20 years on a manifesto of reducing immigration & overseen over a decade of record high immigration levels, yet it’s not prepared to take a single step to reduce it.
In The Telegraph, Nick Timothy writes a reminder that leaving will not make Britain a pariah state, but staying in makes us unable to protect our own borders:
Equally, if Britain left the Convention we would be like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, not Russia and Belarus. Stable liberal democracies can protect individual rights without supranational courts imposing rulings based on an expansive “living instrument” doctrine that allows judges to change the meaning of core rights agreed by governments.
And this, of course, is the point. The European Convention today bears no resemblance to the Convention of 1950. It was drafted to prevent states from sliding towards the horrors of fascism and communism, but today it is used to impose standards of domestic legal rights. It is often abused by criminals and terrorists, illegal immigrants and non-citizens, to challenge the state as it attempts to enforce the law.
A while ago I wrote that any future conservativism ‘will need to redress the intergenerational disparity, giving young people a reason to stay by enabling home ownership and redressing their outsize tax burden - at the expense, if necessary, of more happier generations.’
But this isn’t just a Tory problem - it’s a structural one, and it needs voices across the spectrum to address it. In The Guardian, Polly Toynbee writes about the need to restore the social contract between young and old:
Older people have to accept future budgets that rebalance the disparity between the ages. The ex-Tory minister David Willetts, whose recently updated book, The Pinch, sent up early warning flares, chaired the intergenerational commission on which sat a long list of distinguished economists. He puts blame like this: “It’s not evil to want to help your kids, but we are better parents than we are citizens.” As good citizens, he says, we should care about more than just our own children.
The commission came up with radical proposals to improve the lot of young people and see older people pay more tax, including towards their own care. Suggested remedies included a massive housebuilding programme, reforming regressive council tax to make expensive properties pay their share and a surcharge on second homes.
This week I wrote about ‘the anti-arts establishment’ for The Critic. It looks at the absurdity of Manchester Art Gallery’s curatorial decisions and question why government funding is being used to reinforce a deeply divisive strain of identity politics — and why a Conservative party that has been in government over a decade is continuing to do so.
Whilst I looked at symptoms, Ed West has taken a look at causes; namely the great retreat of conservatives from public life and the progressive takeover of institutions:
The problem for the Right is that ambitious and successful people increasingly adopt liberal or progressive positions publicly, and also avoid association with conservatism; the sheer dearth of talent in the Conservative Party is an indication of this trend, as is the eagerness of exiting Tory MPs to openly sneer at conservative beliefs — think of Sajid Javid’s ‘so what?’ tweet…
Most people are not hugely political and will tend to sway with the prevailing cultural norm. If you’re a career-minded and competent person who wishes to rise up in the world, you’re going to publicly espouse liberal or even progressive (woke) beliefs. And if enough people espouse an opinion, pressured by social norms and even the law, then that opinion will start to dominate — across institutions and then across wider society, among both the well and badly paid.
Hands off state
The news that Britishvolt are set to go bust has underlined that Government continues to take insufficient interest in building up Britain’s economic resilience and continues to fail to recognise that the green agenda can to be both a spur to growth and an opportunity to bring an engineering base back to the UK.
But the problem is far from limited to Britishvolt, as Ian Birrell shows in his look at how the UK sacrificed it’s car industry for UnHerd:
Andy Palmer, former head of Aston Martin, told the BBC that its collapse was an “unmitigated disaster for the auto industry in the UK”, and he predicted firms would migrate to where batteries are being made. But to put Britishvolt’s demise in perspective, even this ambitious start-up was planned to deliver less than one-fifth of the capacity by 2030 anticipated from two plants in Germany — Tesla’s gigafactory in Berlin plus another being developed by a Chinese firm that is the world’s biggest electronic vehicle battery maker.…
The last three Tory governments have all boasted that Britain will be a world leader in both green energy and electric vehicle manufacturing, seeing car production as a symbol once again of the country’s status in our post-Brexit world. Now we hear the latest prime minister bragging that he will turn the nation into a technology force. Yet behind all the hype and brash talk, one of our most important, innovative and efficient industries is moving abroad thanks to state inertia at a time of fast-moving change. Britain is stuck in the slow lane — and we seem to be ignoring the warning signs flashing on the dashboard before our eyes.
The riots in Knowsley have inevitably been used to facilitate a discussion about the threat from the far-right and the language used by ministers, rather than a serious conversation about the consequences of Britain’s untenably high rate of immigration on deprived communities like Knowsley and Britain’s social fabric.
These riots have also been used to discredit the Shawcross review of Prevent, which has found the institution has drifted into anti-right wing activism- with some pretty laughable consequences. But there are also serious consequences and Liam Duffy takes a look at them - and the driving factors - in Unherd:
Shawcross found that there is a disproportionate focus on the far-Right, and that while Islamist extremism is defined so narrowly as to only take in the likes of Isis, far-Right extremism is defined so loosely as to sometimes include Brexit, populism and garden-variety conservatism…
It’s easy for a headline to blame “woke civil servants” for not wanting to talk about Islamist extremism, but the reality is: delivery is bent out of shape by parts of the Prevent sector which have nothing to do with government at all. These are the institutions which churn out paper after paper on the video game-extremism nexus or the trauma of their own work, but which are deafeningly silent when a schoolteacher is decapitated across the Channel and another is forced into hiding closer to home.
The Sunday Papers
A new paper in April’s New Ideas in Psychology hypothesises mental health awareness efforts are contributing to the rise in reported mental health problems:
In this paper, we present the hypothesis that, paradoxically, awareness efforts are contributing to this reported increase in mental health problems. We term this the prevalence inflation hypothesis. First, we argue that mental health awareness efforts are leading to more accurate reporting of previously under-recognised symptoms, a beneficial outcome. Second, and more problematically, we propose that awareness efforts are leading some individuals to interpret and report milder forms of distress as mental health problems.
It’ll be interesting to see this tested. Meanwhile, a paper from the Marriage Foundation shows that a 'couple penalty' in the benefits system provides a 'huge disincentive' for partners to move in together or get married, particularly amongst poorer earners:
Now among newborns in 2021, 71 per cent of parents in high-earning families were married compared to 34 per cent in low-earning families. However among parents ‘not classified’, marriage rates were even worse, just 18 per cent marry. So for newborns “The marriage gap” between high and low earners is 37 per cent, and for the very poorest 53 per cent.
Anyway thanks for reading, and have a great Sunday.
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