Remainers: You Can Stop Pretending To Be Patriotic Now

Jonn Elledge - Democratic World Superstate - Brexit

A rare moment of honesty from an arch-Remainer

New Statesman staff writer Jonn Elledge – whom I recently described as “worse than a garden variety xenophobe” for his heinous statements about elderly Brexit voters, much to his indignant outrage – has been engaging in a minor Twitter spat with Tim Montgomerie this afternoon about the nature of Brexit.

This would be utterly unremarkable, but for one inadvertently revealing tweet in the exchange in which Jonn Elledge revealed in a moment of strange candour the real reason that establishment Remainers love the European Union and cannot conceive of a life outside of its cloying embrace.

Pressed by Montgomerie, who asked “Is there a name for continually thinking the European project, and its gradual erosion of nation state democracies, will turn out ok?”, Elledge replied, simply and honestly (for once) “Never did understand what was meant to be so brilliant about nation states, if I’m honest. I’m quite up for a democratic world superstate”.

This is an appallingly ignorant and historically illiterate statement, the kind of sentiment that could only be uttered by somebody who enjoys all the benefits of living in the age of the modern democratic nation state without pausing for a moment to consider the true source of all his comfort (hint: not the EU). Would Elledge at least concede that the nation state is a slight improvement on the city state? The multiethnic empire? The dynastic kingdom? Marauding tribes? He is at pains not to say, and yet is quite ready to roll the dice, jack in the nation state and try something new without really giving it a moment’s thought.

And there it is, ladies and gentlemen. Finally, a moment of honesty from the arch-Remainer side of the argument. Of course, those of us who followed the EU referendum debate closely and saw through the paucity and desperately narrow scope of the Remain side’s argument (focused almost entirely on negative scaremongering about trade with occasional rhetorical flourishes about “cutting ourselves off from the world”) knew that something deeper was motivating the EU’s loudest cheerleaders.

But of course Jonn Elledge and his co-conspirators could not admit their dirty desire in public during the referendum. They could not simply admit the truth – that they have no respect or appreciation for the nation state and its role in guaranteeing our core freedoms and liberties, and that they would sooner consign nations to the grave so long as they and their ilk could preserve their current perks and become true citizens of the world.

To admit their scorn for the nation state and eagerness of its demise would have been suicide during the EU referendum. Thus their only hope was to pretend to be patriotic and to have a love for this country and its many positive qualities (some of them are still continuing the pretence to this day to maintain their credibility in the hope of winning a potential second referendum) while secretly loving the EU precisely because it actively undermines nation states by design.

But of course the one world government (or “democratic world superstate”) longed for by Jonn Elledge (and no doubt many other Remainers in the secrecy of their own hearts) is totally impractical in any case, working against human nature rather than with it, as all Utopian left-wing pipe dreams tend to do.

Consider the case of the United States of America, fifty states combined into one great nation, bound together under the motto E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). When it comes time for presidential elections, Americans do not stubbornly vote only for candidates from their own state, but instead choose from the candidate whose policies they prefer from any of the fifty states. A Californian might vote for a candidate from Illinois without so much as a second thought, knowing that the candidate will represent all of America if elected. Americans can do so in confidence because their sense of being American is stronger than their sense of being an Iowan, New Yorker, Nevadan or even Californian or Texan, the two states with the strongest sense of separate nationhood.

Now imagine an election for Leader of the World. Do you think that people from countries as diverse as Britain, Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, Greece, Kenya and Japan would vote high-mindedly for the candidate who offered the best suite of policies, regardless of his or her nationality? Would it even be likely that a candidate would offer a fair suite of policies rather than a manifesto geared toward benefiting his or her home nation? Of course not. Cultural differences are far more significant across national borders (despite the furious efforts of pro-EU “citizens of the world” to pretend otherwise), and out of protectionist instinct people would inevitably want to vote for a candidate from their own country, or at least a sympathetic country.

And who can say that they would be wrong to do so? Is Jonn Elledge seriously contending that he would be happy for the world to be led by a member of the Chinese Communist party? Or by a Putinesque Russian oligarch? Or a theocratic Saudi cleric? Of course he wouldn’t. Elledge, in his disdain for the nation state and desperate need to virtue-signal his abhorrence of patriotism, paints a fraudulent world of rainbows and unicorns where all cultures are equally praiseworthy and deep-seated cultural and religious differences are non-existent. Again, working doggedly against human nature rather than working practically with it.

There can be no world government because there is, as yet, no world demos. One day, probably quite far in the future, this may change. And that may be a good thing when it eventually happens. But we are not there yet, and to pretend that a “democratic world superstate” is either viable or desirable is foolishly naive as well as being oxymoronic – you can either have democracy or a world superstate, but not both.

I wrote about the ongoing importance of the nation state at some length back in 2015:

The liberties and freedoms we hold dear today can very easily slip away if we do not jealously guard them. By contrast, power is generally won back by the people from elites and powerful interests at a very heavy price – just consider Britain’s own history, or the American fight for independence from our Crown.

If we want to have a say in designing the new institutions that will govern our politics, trade, intra-bloc affairs (for we soon may not call it “foreign relations”) and other issues, we need to put the brakes on the demise of the nation state while we take stock and think about the future that we want, so that we do not end up in the future that our leaders and elites are building now in secret, without our consent.

Even if you find patriotism silly and the importance that conservatives attach to symbols and rituals to be absurd, it is still in your interests to slow down the juggernaut of European integration so that you too can help design the world our descendants will inhabit. You may laugh at the latest sensationalist Daily Mail headline, or think Nigel Farage a fool when he stands in his local pub, resplendent in tweed, drinking a pint of English ale. And that’s fine, you can laugh.

But think about what the world will be like in one hundred years, with its new technologies and services and ideas. Think about what innovations there will be in healthcare and banking and computing (and data collection) and travel. And then think about how much oversight and control we have over any of these things even today, in 2015. It it enough?

Imagine, then, the world of 2115. What institutions will then exist to safeguard our children’s  interests, and which bodies and authorities will they petition for redress of grievances? Who will control foreign relations between whatever nation states or multinational trading blocs remain, and who will decide whether to wage war using whatever unimaginable weapons we have conceived a century from now?

Do you entrust the EU with these powers? The World Trade Organisation? The United Nations?

The answer to this final question is apparently a resounding “yes!”, at least as far as Elledge is concerned. Any international or supranational institution is brimming over with legitimacy and ability to solve “a lot of stuff the nation state can’t do” in the mind of hardcore ideological Remainers, while the despised nation state offers nothing but insularity, bigotry and nationalism.

The naivety on display here is quite simply off the charts. Obviously it is one of the defining characteristics of those on the Left to leap towards radical change without stopping to think through the consequences, but to show a willingness to do so with something as fundamental as abandoning the nation state as the basic building block of human society is reckless indeed. Especially since neither Jonn Elledge or anybody else has proposed a viable alternative.

It is one thing to rage against the status quo and advocate for radical change. But to sneer at the nation state, close one’s mind to the stability and prosperity it has delivered and advocate for One World Government without even beginning to think through the consequences and practicalities should destroy once and for all whatever credibility Jonn Elledge and his ideological brethren have left.

And still we should be grateful. For too long, ideological establishment Remainers have walked a tightrope, angrily proclaiming that they are as patriotic as the next man (and taking great offence when the impossibility of this statement was pointed out to them) while doing everything in their power to ensure that the nation state is weakened, together with the fraying bonds which hold our society together. Now, finally, the mask is slipping. Whether through a moment of frustration or deliberate design, the real motivations are now being unmasked.

Now we see the hardcore ideological Remainers for what they are.

 

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Why Theresa May Needs To Go Now

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Every day that Theresa May remains in office is another day that the Conservative Party is idling in neutral, failing to retool and re-energise itself to take on Jeremy Corbyn’s marauding socialists

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Evening Standard, explains quite comprehensively why there is only downside and no upside to keeping Theresa May in 10 Downing Street a moment longer than it will take the Conservatives to organise a leadership contest to replace her.

Montgomerie writes:

Tory MPs, returning in a shell-shocked daze to Westminster for this week’s low-fat, low-content Queen’s Speech, must quickly recognise that Theresa May is as finished as Mrs Clinton. Every day she remains in charge is a wasted day. Every day the country inches closer to an election for which Jeremy Corbyn will have added more activists to his impressive turnout machine. Equally, the Conservatives will have one less day to rebuild their own offering and operation.

Mrs May’s flat-footed response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy was not just further proof she’s not that good at politics. It was another moment of not rising to the occasion as a leader with vision would do. The horrific burning alive of largely poor and marginalised people was — like 2008’s crash — another reminder of unjustifiable vulnerabilities at the bottom of society and inadequate responsibility from those at the top.

Yes. This blog has noted the number of commentators who leapt to the prime minister’s defence in terms of her out-of-step public response to the horrific Grenfell Tower fire last week. A significant minority seem to have convinced themselves that the prime minister’s excessive reserve terror at the thought of interaction with the public is somehow an admirable thing, the epitome of British stoicism, rather than further dismal evidence of Theresa May’s inability to lead.

These claims dismiss critics of Theresa May as reactionaries who just want to see the prime minister emote for the cameras and hug a few of the survivors, but this dismissive attitude completely misses the point. I don’t think anybody in Britain had any great desire to see the prime minister weeping with the Grenfell Tower victims on the evening news bulletins. They did, however, expect her to show up, even if it was politically awkward, just as American political leaders show solidarity with disaster victims in the United States and French political leaders in the aftermath of terror atrocities in France. This is not an unreasonable, irrational demand. It is Leadership 101, and Theresa May has been failing the test in manifold ways since well before the general election.

Montgomerie continues:

The most fitting memorial to those who perished [in the Grenfell Tower fire] is not to comfort the bereaved as all half-decent societies would. The best way of honouring the dead would be to deliver the scale of house-building that Conservative PMs such as Churchill and Macmillan championed but which an ideologically rigid Thatcherite dogma has since discouraged. For good measure, a government building more homes in the South would also significantly expand infrastructure in the North. The everyday so-called current government spending still needs trimming but leaving the next generation with inadequate roads, railways and broadband is just as irresponsible as leaving them up to their necks in debt.

I’d put believing that Elvis Presley is still alive on equal par with the claim that Mrs May could launch this agenda or something similar. Despite the words she uttered in Downing Street after first becoming PM she has done nothing of consequence for communities suffering most from the multigeddon of globalisation, open borders, automation and the collapse of the working-class family.

Rather than overhauling a threadbare party machine that helped lose a 20 per cent opinion poll lead, she has reappointed her Tory chairman. Those thinking the days of treating her Cabinet with disdain are over should look at her careless loss of two of the Brexit department’s four key ministers last weekend, a week before today’s starting gun for talks.

Also true. While this blog has focused on the need for conservatives to start transmitting a positive, optimistic message and defence of their worldview if they want to stand a chance of competing with the parties of the Left for the youth vote, good messaging alone is not enough. And while acts of pandering and voter bribery – such as matching Labour’s pledge for free university tuition – are rightfully unacceptable to conservatives, it should not be impossible for the Tories to recognise that their current housing policy (or lack thereof) is a punch in the gut to any young person not fortunate enough to inherit from their parents or be helped onto the housing ladder by them. Planning laws need to be urgently reviewed and liberalised. The Left wants to build council houses for all, so that everybody is dependent on the state for one more thing. Conservatives should counter with a bold proposal to expand the supply of private housing for rent and purchase.

Montgomerie is also right to criticise the party machine. CCHQ has presided over the near-total gutting of the party in recent years, from the winding up of the terminally dysfunctional Conservative Future youth movement to the neutering of the constituency associations and the megalomaniacal insistence of central control over candidate selection so as to ensure the continuance of the current system of patronage and nepotism which gave us such wonderful “rising stars” as Ben Gummer. Theresa May is not responsible for the party machine that she inherited when she became prime minister last year, but neither has she shown the slightest interest in revamping the party and opening it up to outside talent. The necessary change will not come so long as she remains leader.

Montgomerie’s conclusion is also strong:

A new PM and a contest necessary to establish who it should be will not be good for the nation’s immediate peace of mind or for business sentiment, but there are no easy options from where we are. What Britain does have is a two- to three-month window before September’s German elections. After that, Brexit negotiations will be fast and furious.

The Tories need a contest thorough enough to identify a team as much as a leader, and an agenda for social renewal as much as for Brexit. With both established, there is a real chance of stopping the momentum building behind Jeremy Corbyn — and it must be stopped. His views on tax, state power and defence would enfeeble this country.

We must not underestimate Corbyn. Voters who yearn for change may well roll the dice if forced to choose between Corbyn and “the same old Tories”. If, after all, people can convince themselves that the moon landings were staged, they may even believe Corbyn is equipped for Britain’s highest office.

There is never a good time to instigate a divisive, ugly leadership election campaign between general elections, but far better that Conservatives bite the bullet now than wait until a year into Brexit negotiations before swapping out the leader of the country. It’s bad enough to have to consider changing horses at the water’s edge of Brexit negotiations; changing horses mid-stream would only undermine the British negotiating position further.

And as Tim Montgomerie rightly says, a leadership contest is needed to identify not just a leader but also a team and a set of values – not just relating to Brexit – around which the party can coalesce and campaign. The 2017 general election campaign was a miserable affair in which Tories – led from the top by Theresa May – refused to make a bold, positive affirmation of free markets or other traditional conservative standards, instead portraying “austerity” and limits on the state as a necessary evil rather than as a potentially good thing in and of themselves.

The Tories were tricked into fighting on Labour’s turf (arguing about inequality) when they should instead have proudly made the case that conservative policies expand the pie for all while Jeremy Corbyn’s focus on equality of outcome promises only more equal slices of a rapidly diminishing national pie. Conservatives essentially went to fight in this general election only to discover that their leader had broken their best ideological weapon in advance of the battle. No wonder they lost ground against Jeremy Corbyn’s uplifting (if loopy and fiscally nonsensical) vision for Britain.

And then there is the elusive, undefinable sense of momentum. Whatever momentum Theresa May had when she took over from David Cameron, she has now squandered it all. Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, is on the march. Through her inept leadership and hopelessly prosecuted general election campaign, Theresa May literally gave 1970s style socialism a foothold back in our national politics, and raised the real risk that Corbyn could enter 10 Downing Street as prime minister if her shaky minority government were to fall. Prior to the election her aura of strength and stability was severely knocked by the multiple terror attacks on British soil, some of which exposed failings for which she was directly accountable as Home Secretary.

And now the Grenfell Tower disaster response has revealed the prime minister to be a shrunken, fearful and traumatised figure, clinging on day by day while colleagues openly worry about her mental state of mind. Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan between them have assumed the role of national Consoler-in-Chief, while Theresa May skulks in Downing Street and only meets with the survivors and bereaved relatives under duress. This might be partly excusable if she had organised a first-class disaster response plan a la Gordon Brown, but she didn’t. Instead there were days of chaos and confusion before Whitehall finally took over the response from Kensington & Chelsea council.

Rightly or wrongly – and the vast majority of criticism directed at Theresa may has been fully justified – the impression is of a prime minister in over her head, unable to regain her political footing and behaving in an entirely reactive way rather than giving the country the proactive leadership that it needs. There is no coming back from such a self-inflicted calamity. There is no PR job that can be done to repair the damage. And if Theresa May is hanging on in some desperate bid to burnish her legacy with a smattering of minor accomplishments before her inevitable removal then she is not only deluding herself but also putting herself before the Conservative Party, and party before the country.

So let’s bring on the contest. Let 48 Tory MPs submit their letters to the 1922 Committee and formally trigger a leadership challenge, forcing the prime minister’s resignation. There is no reason for us to continue to “bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of”. The undiscover’d country could hardly be any worse.

 

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The Daily Toast: Douglas Murray On Putting Country Before Party

Tim Montgomerie - 2

The exodus begins…

Douglas Murray lends an eloquent voice of support to Tim Montgomerie and his brave decision to quit the Conservative Party as an act of protest against Cameronism:

In the wasteland of principles that is Westminster, Tim Montgomerie has always been an exception.  The area is filled with ambitious, bland careerists whose idea of taking a stand (as with most of the commentariat) consists of trying to locate two ‘extremes’ before comfortably wedging themselves equidistant between them.  But in resigning from a lifetime’s membership of the Conservative party, Tim Montgomerie has demonstrated that there is still room for principles in politics.

[..] But here is the bigger problem for [Montgomerie’s critics]. It may well be that they shouldn’t care about the founder of Conservative Home, and one of their party’s most loyal and thoughtful members, choosing to leave the party.  Just as they may for the time-being not mind taking all those leaflet-deliverers for granted while riding against their core wishes.  But one day they may wake up to discover that amid all the high-handed dismissals and principle-free careerism, there is nobody around left to watch their political backs.  What a day that will be.  And perhaps it will come sooner rather than later.

If anything is going to hasten this day of reckoning, it will be the coming EU referendum. The party grassroots are overwhelmingly at odds with the leadership on the key question of Brexit. The parliamentary Conservative Party is on course to split just as dramatically as Labour split over the vote for military action in Iraq back in 2003.

Then throw in a rancorous, ill-tempered EU referendum campaign – our country is debating an existential issue, and tempers will inevitably fray and then snap. Things will be said that are far worse than David Cameron’s prissy, coded jibes at the expense of Boris Johnson in Parliament today.

And in the midst of this intra-party warfare, Conservative MPs may come to realise – or recall – that there is far more that divides them than just the question of Brexit. Other ideological differences, suppressed in the name of the “greater good” of general election victory, will come bubbling back to the surface.

Some Tory MPs might even make the mistake of asking themselves what the Cameron/Osborne legacy will be – and then recoil in horror when they realise that they fought their way back to power only to blindly implement Tony Blair’s fourth term New Labour agenda.

And then will come the desperate casting around for a more authentic conservative vision, and a more credible leader to bring it about. And vindication for Tim Montgomerie.

 

Read my take on Tim Montgomerie’s resignation from the Conservative Party here, as part of the “What Conservative Government?” series.

 

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What do Jeremy Corbyn And Tim Montgomerie Have In Common?

Tim Montgomerie - Jeremy Corbyn

Martin Kettle tells us in his latest Guardian column:

Tim Montgomerie and Jeremy Corbyn make unlikely bedfellows. The Tory activist and journalist – founder of ConservativeHome.com – is a self-proclaimed admirer of Margaret Thatcher. She’s the reason Montgomerie went into politics. For the leader of the Labour party, on the other hand, Thatcher embodies everything he would like a Labour government to dismantle, reverse and bury.

Yet the two men agree about one thing. Montgomerie tore up his Tory party card on Thursday, protesting that there is very little that David Cameron and George Osborne are doing, not least in Brussels this week, that Blairites or Cleggites could object to. When Corbyn ran for the Labour leadership last year, he made pretty much the same charge. What’s more, he won the contest because a lot of supporters agreed with him.

Montgomerie and Corbyn see the world very differently. But they both now belong to the growing part of the British public that believes parties must stand for more sharply defined aims that reflect a distinct view of the world. Many of this group believe, in addition, that the voters are crying out for such a change to be offered to them.

Kettle goes on to reach wildly different conclusions than this blog – his piece ends with an implied warning that ideology of either side should be kept firmly in the box, lest we end up with a British version of the US Republican Party. But in terms of surveying the scene, he is absolutely right.

Most recently, the backlash against centrism has been more a phenomenon of the Left than the Right. The Labour leadership contest blew open long-suppressed divisions and resentments about the direction of the party, and (remarkably) actually saw the long-subjugated old-school socialists regain control. The Right, by contrast, has not been so divided. Sure, we’ve had the rise of UKIP as a serious threat on the eurosceptic and traditionalist fronts, but most Tories have been so happy just to be back in majority government that there has been no real disquiet over what David Cameron is actually getting their party to do while in power.

But this could all be about to change. The EU referendum on 23 June will pit Tory against Tory as each of us confront the existential question facing our country. As Chris Deerin warned a year ago based on his experience of the Scottish independence referendum, the coming battle will be bitter and divisive. And only a hopeless optimist could think that once this internal Conservative warfare starts, other issues will not quickly be dragged into the debate – deeply suppressed differences over fiscal policy, housing policy, defence, welfare, energy and climate.

Kettle’s piece suggests that he would disagree, but I regard all of this to be an extremely welcome thing. The ridiculously narrow Overton window staked out by our two main political parties has left many millions of British people without a voice on some of the greatest issues of our day. Worse still, it stinks to high heaven – whether it is always the case or not – of an establishment collusion to protect the interests of the political class over and above the good of the country.

Anything which helps to break open the stranglehold of centrist, consensus politics on our public discourse should therefore be welcomed. That’s why this blog supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party despite disagreeing with him on virtually every issue of substance. And it is why I will enthusiastically cheer any development which causes stress and discomfort to David Cameron, who – as Tim Montgomerie lamented – has undone nearly all of Thatcher’s radical influence on the Conservative Party.

 

Read my take on Tim Montgomerie’s resignation from the Conservative Party here, as part of the “What Conservative Government?” series.

 

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What Conservative Government? – Part 3, Tim Montgomerie Edition

David Cameron - Margaret Thatcher - Coke Zero Conservatism

You, sir, are no Margaret Thatcher

Tim Montgomerie has finally had enough. He is embarking down the lonely path of exile trodden by many of us who remain deeply proud to call ourselves conservatives (with a small C), but who feel absolutely no connection, affinity or devotion to the ideologically shapeshifting, centrist machine led by David Cameron. And he is resigning his membership of the Conservative Party.

Montie signs off with this warning in the Times:

The PM will no doubt treat with disdain my resignation like the departure of tens of thousands of once-loyal grassroots members who have already walked away. But one day an opposition party will get its act together or a wholly new party will emerge. At that point there’ll be a realisation that the Tories’ 40-odd per cent in current opinion polls was a mile wide but an inch deep; reflecting disappointment at alternatives rather than allegiance.

And at some point Britain will notice that the Conservatives didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining. That we will head into the next economic downturn with the public finances still in precarious shape, with vital airport runways unbuilt and banks too-big-to-fail as big as ever. And if Mr Cameron gets his way we’ll still be powerless to control immigration from an economically turbulent, declining EU, of which we will be an impotent member.

But why desert the Tory party now that they finally hold a majority administration for the first time since 1997?

Tim’s reasons are exactly what you would expect – the abysmally centrist, soul-deadeningly unambitious agenda which has been set by David Cameron and George Osborne since 2010, and which this blog has been constantly condemning since I began writing back in 2012.

The Conservatives are supposed to be the party of fiscal responsibility, and yet the national debt has nearly doubled under George Osborne’s watch, while he struts and crows about his meagre attempts to reduce the annual budget deficit.

The Conservatives – at their best – lift people up out of disadvantaged circumstances and help them to realise their own innate potential, rather than trapping them in a life sentence of government dependency and subsistence. But David Cameron’s government has been half-hearted on housing, on infrastructure, on welfare – kicking the can down the road, and pandering to their wealthy, older, property-owning base at every turn.

The Conservatives are meant to be the party of a strong national defence, but under David Cameron the military has been pared back to the bone, with many essential capabilities (like maritime patrol aircraft) eliminated entirely just when they are needed most, and our aircraft carriers – crucial to maintaining Britain’s status as a world power with expeditionary military capabilities – decommissioned, with their replacement not due to come online until 2018.

The Conservatives are meant to be the party of national sovereignty and of patriotism, and yet in David Cameron we have a prime minister who only glibly and unconvincingly talked the eurosceptic talk, and who is currently perpetrating a fraud on the British people with his cosmetic and entirely irrelevant “renegotiation”.

And one might add (though Tim Montgomerie did not mention this in his resignation letter) that the Conservatives traditionally stood for individual liberty, and the right of the people to go about their lives unmolested and undisturbed by government. But David Cameron’s government – with its creepy “plan for every stage of your life” – is determined that the state involve itself in as much as possible, and has cynically exploited national security concerns to roll back civil liberties and undermine privacy.

But enough of me – I’ll let Montie speak for himself:

Could David Cameron be much more different [than Thatcher]? He promised to bring down immigration but despite Theresa May’s hollow rhetoric, it’s rising. And that defining mission to eliminate the deficit? The Treasury is still borrowing £75 billion a year — a burden on the next generation that would once have shocked and shamed us, and still should. The national debt is up by more than 50 per cent, but this hasn’t seen our armed forces rebuilt. They’ve been cut to the bone.

What about fundamental change in Britain’s relationship with Brussels that the PM pledged, promised and vowed to deliver? The 69 per cent who think he got a bad deal are right. The newspapers that called the deal a “joke”, “conjuring trick” and “delusion” weren’t exaggerating. But it took the Fourth Estate rather than Tory MPs to point out the emperor’s naked state. With a few honourable exceptions Conservative parliamentarians were silent when Mr Cameron, pretending to have changed anything that matters, stood at the same dispatch box at which Mrs Thatcher vowed to fight European integration.

This criticism is spot-on. It has been particularly galling in recent weeks to see just how few current Tory MPs – particularly of the newer intakes – have continued to voice the principled euroscepticism which they were only too happy to display while flaunting their wares to their local constituency party selection committees.

The EU referendum is not just another political issue to be legitimately haggled over by MPs who broadly share the same outlook. This isn’t an arcane policy debate or a minor difference of opinion over fiscal policy – it is absolutely fundamental to how Britain will be governed for the next decades and beyond, and the fact that so many Conservative MPs choose loyalty to their chameleon-in-chief over their constituents and their country is profoundly depressing.

Montie goes on to warn that the Conservative Party will not have the fortune of a weak and divided opposition forever – and that the narrow window for effecting real radical conservative reform is being missed:

For the moment Mr Cameron can get away with all of this. Labour moderates are no nearer getting rid of their extremist leader than when he was elected. It will probably take a generation before northern England and Scotland trust the Lib Dems again. And Ukip, although resilient at double figures in most opinion polls, is too Trump-ian to mount a credible challenge for power.

Faced with a weak, divided opposition in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher moved the country forward. She seized the opportunity to deliver tough reforms that a more effective opposition might have stopped. Today, David Cameron and George Osborne are doing little that Blairites or Cleggites could object to. I recently asked Peter Mandelson what separated his politics from that of Mr Osborne. He joked that the top rate of income tax was too high. At least I think he was joking.

This is also true. And Tim Montgomerie rightly acknowledges that there may well be short-term electoral dividends to be won with a doggedly centrist approach. But only if winning elections is all you care about. If you actually want to do something useful and positive with the power you wield, then the Cameron/Osborne approach is nothing short of a disaster.

As I have written many times before on this blog, the unhinged, virtue-signalling British Left are determined to see the current Conservative government as some kind of ideologically extreme, Thatcher-on-steroids, evil and inhumane government, despite the fact that in reality the government is profoundly centrist. Ed Miliband first started allowing this narrative to take hold as he sought to buy breathing space for his party back in 2010, but six years on and the Labour Party are now in the midst of being devoured by the ‘Tory Scum’-roaring beast that they unleashed.

And since anything that conservatives of any stripe now do will automatically and reflexively be painted by the Left as malevolent and evil, there is absolutely no point in trying to curry favour with the centre-left by copying New Labour policy on taxes, wage controls or anything else. Since the hysterical Nazi comparisons are going to come flying at us come what may, we should at least be using this time of limited and disorganised opposition to boldly enact a radical conservative agenda, much as Thatcher did in the mid 1980s. But this is not happening, and Montie’s resignation suggests that he has given up hope of a change in strategy, even after Cameron goes and is (likely) replaced by Osborne.

And who can blame him? I saw the writing on the wall when I moved back from Chicago in 2011, as it became clear that Cameron’s ideological caution was not a function of being in coalition with the LibDems, but was actually his true, authentic self. And so I never rejoined the Conservative Party back then. But if I had, I too would be cutting up my membership card in solidarity with Montgomerie.

I’m currently reading an excellent book – “Thatcher’s Trial”, by Kwasi Kwarteng, the Conservative MP for Spelthorne. The book focuses on the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, specifically the period from March to September 1981 when she had to negotiate a difficult Budget and ultimately reassert her authority with a bold Cabinet reshuffle.

I’m only half way through Kwarteng’s book, but the portrait he paints is a true profile in courage – somebody with firm and unyielding principles, a strong ideological compass, a righteous hatred for consensus politics and the ability to impose her will on her party and her country. In short, Kwarteng is describing everything that David Cameron, Thatcher’s successor, is not.

Back when Jeremy Corbyn was on the cusp of being elected leader of the Labour Party, this blog asked:

If David Cameron’s Conservative Party was voted out of office today, what will future historians and political commentators say about this government fifty years from now? What will be the Cameron / Osborne legacy? What edifices of stone, statute and policy will remain standing as testament to their time in office? Try to picture it clearly.

Are you happy with what you see?

I genuinely don’t know what legacy David Cameron thinks he is building through the course of his rootless premiership. But it is not a legacy with which I wish to be associated in any way.

It has been lonely these past few years, being a conservative without a party at a time when political opponents assume we must be thrilled with David Cameron’s every slick and insincere pronouncement. But at least we now have Tim Montgomerie to keep us company in our solitude.

Now, the first order of business for the inaugural meeting of Conservatives in Exile: how do we get our party back, and save it (and the country) from Cameronism?

 

Britain's PM Cameron arrives to pose for a family photo during an EU leaders summit in Brussels

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