The Battle For British Conservatism: Book Progress Update

Atlantis Books shop Oia Santorini Greece

A tedious race against time

As I mentioned last month, I am in the slow, tortuous process of writing a book on the challenges and future of British conservatism, based partly on my writings on this blog and augmented where appropriate with new material.

It turns out that writing a book is quite hard. Who knew? And yet a whole host of verifiable idiots seem to effortlessly churn the things out one after another; but then I suppose many of them have collaborators, researchers or ghostwriters. By contrast, my humble little book (much like this blog) remains very much a side-hustle, and one which necessarily takes third place to work and another significant ongoing project (details TBC) for the time being.

Right now I have a 30-page outline in Google Documents which is being sporadically worked on as I slowly transform terse bullet points, links to my past articles and stream-of-consciousness paragraphs into the final text. I hope to self-publish on Amazon and iBooks (or whatever else those young whippersnappers use, with their loud music and Pac-Man video games) by early in the new year, closer to Christmas if things progress smoothly. Maybe I’ll tweet it out in a 5000-tweet thread or broadcast it on SnapChat, who knows?

I can’t help but notice, as I set to work, that much of the UK political media has finally woken up to the fact that there might be something ideologically dysfunctional within the Tory Party, hence the sudden proliferation of “OMG the Tories have lost their way!” articles in all the prestige media and main political websites. Well done guys, it only took four years for you to catch up (ten years if we count Peter Hitchens as the pace-setter, which we probably should).

Joking aside, this is somewhat frustrating as I know full well that ideas first expounded on this blog (which I know is sometimes read by mainstream UK political journalists even if they almost never deign to link to me or re-tweet my stuff) will soon be appearing in rival books which have the backing of actual publishers and real distribution networks. And in a few short months, a bunch of self-satisfied hacks who only a few months ago could still be found praising the dismal, centrist Tory party to the rafters will be smugly sitting in television studios pontificating on how they were the first to recognise that something was wrong in Toryland. “Where did the Tories go wrong?” will likely be early 2018’s version of “So, Brexit happened” in terms of topical political book sub-genres ravenously pounced upon by the Westminster elite.

Therefore I find myself in a bit of a race to market against these guys, not because I will be remotely competing with them for critical acclaim or market share (I’ll celebrate if I end up selling fifty of the darn things and anybody outside my social circle pays the blindest bit of attention) but purely because I want the personal and intellectual satisfaction of getting my long-held ideas and warnings in print before the prestige media elite saunter along to claim insights first published on this blog as personal, original revelations of their own. Obviously there is a quality/speed trade-off at work, and I don’t want to release any old rubbish prematurely. But I also really, really don’t want to see Fraser Nelson’s Comprehensive Explanation Of The Conservative Dilemma staring down at me from a shelf in Waterstone’s before I have gone on the record myself. That would be significantly sub-optimal.

So I continue to work away on this project in the background. You may have noticed a new series on the blog called “The Battle For British Conservatism” (first article here), some of which will undoubtedly feed into the book (and which will hopefully feature some more interesting guest contributions), but other blog updates may be slightly more sparse for awhile as my energies are diverted.

In the meantime, it would be tremendously helpful to me if readers not already signed up for email updates could do so by signing up right underneath the Facebook sidebar on the right (if you’re reading on a smartphone or tablet then it may be waaaay at the bottom of the page). I will be using the blog’s hitherto-untapped mailing list to keep everyone updated on the book and offer a discount for readers – not that it will cost more than a London pint anyway.

In the meantime, if anyone sees Owen Bennett, Isabel Hardman or Tim Stanley hunched over a MacBook in Starbucks writing something vaguely similar, please give me a heads-up so I can stock up on Red Bull and pull the required all-nighters to beat them to the finish line.



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6 thoughts on “The Battle For British Conservatism: Book Progress Update

  1. A.J. Wills (@AshleyWills) October 26, 2017 / 8:28 PM

    You got one sale in the bank already 😉

    Isn’t Hardman already writing a book on Parliament? So she’s busy. I also consider her a decent journo. I have no doubt TS is writing something about British Catholicism and it’s political history (probably).

    How many pages are you aiming for? Christmas is some deadline!

    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper October 26, 2017 / 9:29 PM

      Many thanks! That’s great news, one copy for you and one for my mum so far 😉

      I rate Hardman too, she’s a decent, thinking journalist. Can’t say the same for everyone at her publication, but that’s another story. I was briefly at Cambridge when Tim Stanley was there, and watching him debate at the Union I was convinced he would be an MP by now. Interesting that he also made the left-to-right political journey, which one might not necessarily have guessed.

      There are some journos where I will be less peeved if they end up pipping me to the post on this, but there are also some where I will never forgive myself if I let them steal my thunder.

      Not quite sure what the prospective length will be yet. I’m still tussling a bit over the format – one option is to do it like Andrew Sullivan’s “I Was Wrong”, i.e. a chronological view of edited past blog pieces which collectively tell a story (probably easier to do on short notice) or reworking everything I’ve written and planned into full chapters, like a real book (which is what I should do). I know the latter is the right course, but I haven’t quite finished shouting down the lazy half of my brain yet.


  2. Douglas Carter October 26, 2017 / 12:06 PM

    It would be interesting if you get round to it if you consider a case for Neutrality. Not that I’m necessarily defending the position, but it’s a legitimate stance for a nation to take. I’ve no particular axe to grind with the USA but the UK hasn’t been given any particular advantage to its electorate by its close links with US Military overseas deployments, nor the attempted closeness with its politico\strategic stance.

    At the same time (and as you’ve pointed out in depth in earlier blogs) attempts to deepen European defence are usually taken as a cynical opportunity to reduce national defence budgets – meaning the US taxpayer effectively underwrites the welfare programme of European nations.

    Similarly, a commitment to ‘strong defence’ mouthed by successive senior Tories is nothing but wretched joke, whilst at least neither the LibDems nor Labour actually pretend to be interested in the subject. Whilst elsewhere are the limitless ranks of those of whom, when posed with matters of defence, mumble the imbecilic retort ‘We’re not an Empire any more’.

    Both Sweden and Ireland, as two examples, contribute doggedly and with honour to UN Peacekeeping obligations and both Sweden and Switzerland see no contradiction in possession of Neutrality in hand with a strong defensive capability.

    Worth a thought?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper October 26, 2017 / 9:37 PM

      I agree Douglas that this would make a very interesting long-form essay or book. Given my ignorance of most matters relating to defence and foreign relations I would feel supremely unqualified to write it at present, but I quite agree that some of these questions are ripe for debating again. Corbyn has reinvigotated the anti-NATO side (I note recently that Youth Labour in particular are keen to scrap NATO and shun the United States) but it would be good to have the other side articulated forcefully too. Sadly, as with everything, this lily-livered pseudo-conservative government cedes all the ideological ground to the Left and never even attempts to make the opposing case.

      Personally, I still see much value in NATO (though it has vastly overexpanded) and the US-UK alliance in particular, which is always maintained by close inter-governmental cooperation and millions of personal ties, no matter who sits in the White House or 10 Downing Street. It’s like an iceberg in that regard – the vast bulk of it is under the surface. But again I think the question of whether we are over-reliant on (or too subservient to) the United States is a fair debate to be had. As with conservatism, defenders of the US-UK alliance must always be prepared to make their case, not just blithely expect that people will automatically agree.

      I’ll definitely keep this idea on the backburner as something to be attempted if/when I become more knowledgeable on these subjects, and in the meantime please do flag any other readings on the subject that you may come across, I would be most interested!


      • Douglas Carter October 27, 2017 / 4:51 PM

        Thanks for the reply Sam but my bad wording. I was wondering if you’d ponder a case for neutrality woven into your exploration of British Conservatism? There are few societies as conservative as you might find in Switzerland so naturally there’s a textbook case to demonstrate there is no contradiction in terms.

        Just to reiterate, I’m not necessarily a proponent of the case (and now I’ve raised it, I’ll try to look out some research for your attention) but at the outset, at least you wouldn’t be beguiled by the previous status quo on the subject. Neither this, nor any medium term future UK Government is likely to have any academically sound or even competent interest in matters of Defence so in a sense there at least you’d be boldly going where no Media-flagged blogger has gone before.

        In a sense, it might even provide a much-needed reboot of the status within UK libertianism for a genuine review of ‘Refugee status’. Much as it has been abused in recent years, a considered and greatly more coherent political posture behind it would reap rewards & might serve to ease relations with Irish politics? But as you’ve already alluded, a Western and Treaty-aligned defence posture should not be taken as a given, but be shown to be relevant and necessary, in particular with regard to its benefit to the UK and to its citizens. Now and in the future.

        And naturally, no future Conservative Government worth the name will be able to dine out so easily on worthless burbled platitudes such as ‘strong defence’ whilst relentlessly and unremittingly cutting capabilities and equipment. Worse still doing so whilst compelling the parent Forces to make the choices. If a Government is going to direct cuts, it must take ownership of the decision to weaken Defence.

        Liked by 1 person

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