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Useless Tories

Wyndham Lewis observed in the 1920s that the Conservatives do not conserve anything and Macaulay in the 1830s had made a similar observation—the two parties just swapped positions, with the Tories now in defence of positions once held by the Whigs. The reason for this to be so goes back to the way the English party system formed in the 17th century. In the 1670s and the 1680s, the party system as we know it today coalesced. The Whigs—much as they are today—became dab hands at petitions and calls for government action; and, as with today, they utilised the latest technology—improved printing presses—to achieve this coordination. Whig action was always coordinated—just like leftist activists today, and that makes sense because the latter are their spiritual descendants.

While the Whigs formed up to undermine the restored Crown and to expand the scope of dissident Protestant sects (Quakers, Presbyterians, and so on), the Tories formed up to defend the parliamentary system as established at the Restoration and the mainline Church of England. What is significant here is that the Tories did not constitute themselves to defend the King—let alone to facilitate his desire to reintroduce hierarchical Roman Catholicism to England. The distinction is fine but significant. The Tories were not “for the King”; they offered limited support for the King combined with significant latitude for Parliament and the defence of the Church as established. In other words, they were “conservative about the revolution”—or what we might anachronistically call “Girodins”.

This explains why the Conservatives have never really been an effective arrest on leftward movement. They are not for central authority—that is a misconception put about by their critics—and rather just support the “limited revolutionary compromise”. Inevitably, it is their fate to follow the Whigs and consolidate what the Whigs did in the last decade. A genuine “conservative” party would pledge fealty to the King and the one true Church and be their instrument in Parliament.


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