Tuesday, 16 September 2014

In which a Liberal Democrat describes conservatism but doesn't know it...


David Boyle used to live in Crystal Palace, a fact that automatically puts him in my good books. Except you don't live in Crystal Palace but in Penge, Sydenham or (if you're in SE20 and posh) Anerley. But David has moved down into the South Downs - he doesn't say where but he does describe the place and it will be familiar to many English people:

My town is outside the commuter belt, one of the advantages of being impossible to commute from, and it is in some ways a step back into a bygone age.  People are patient and polite in the street.  There are four banks in the thriving high street.  There is an effective and forward-thinking GP practice.  The local library is open six days a week.  There are more cubs, scouts and beavers than most people could count.

I sat in church on Sunday, marvelling at the full pews, the identically dressed, healthy-looking people on final salary pensions, the contingent in RAF uniform for Battle of Britain Sunday, saluting as we sang the national anthem.

David, welcome to Conservative England. It is a lovely place filled with lovely people who care about where they live and the people who live there. However, David denies this essential fact saying that the place isn't 'naturally conservative' because it has green action groups and solar panels. As if looking after the place we live isn't the most deeply conservative thing we can do. One of the glorious ironies about green politics is the manner in which it has been captured - and corrupted - by the metropolitan left rather than living in it natural suburban conservative home.

The place David describes could be one of a hundred or more small towns and market towns across the English shires. Places filled with people who, like David, have chosen to live there and who have the time, money and commitment to fill parish councils, voluntary groups and churches with vibrancy and activity. And overwhelmingly these people vote Conservative - indeed are conservative.

Since David fails to full grasp the essence of conservatism - preferring the urban liberal myth that somehow conservatives believe in plutocracy - I can help him with a quotation from one of the two great conservative poets, Rudyard Kipling. Sweetly this quotation is about the place Kipling loved more than anywhere - Sussex:

GOD gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belov├Ęd over all;
That, as He watched Creation’s birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good. 

That, David, is what being a conservative is about and your new - conservative - neighbours demonstrate that love of place and people every day.

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1 comment:

thethoughtgang said...

I'm no Conservative, and that place sounds like all my hells on earth. But that's just me.. and this is a great post.