Conservativism and change? A contradiction in terms?

Watch this video and try to work out what Cameron’s conservatives stand for!

Everybody loves the word “change”.  Apparently some chap over the pond used it for a bit and it worked rather well.  I must insist however, that the two main parties qualify why they are using it.  Labour, must do this because they have been in power for 13 years and so by suggesting we need change, they are slightly knocking their own record; and the Conservatives because “conservativism” and “change”  is an oxymoron.

Andrew Heywood comments that conservativism can be defined as “a fear of change”.  He goes onto say “The desire to resist change may be the recurrent theme within conservativism, but what distinguishes conservatives from other supporters of rival political creeds is the distinctive way they up-hold this position” (“Political Ideologies” pp 71-72).

It struck me as strange that the Tory HQ thought it was a good idea to go full speed ahead with an advertising slogan that is essentially oxymoronic.  Why would they suggest that a Conservative vote, was a vote for change?

There has been a widely quoted race for the middle ground by the Tories, Lib-dems and Labour that has made a mockery of the term change.  It is ironic then, that it is at this election, where the parties are so closely aligned on so many issues that the term “change” has become such a buzz word!

On the doorsteps I have come across Ex-Labour voters who no longer feel as though Labour has any ideology.  Robert Cook in his memoirs (The point of departure) commented that politics without ideology is always going to be short-term.  With New Labours second stint in power, no one apart from Giddens is still talking about the “Third way” any more.  New Labour has no ideology.  Equally, what does the re-branded Cameron Conservatives stand for (Are they one-nation conservatives, neo-liberal or what)?

Ironically the neo-liberal wing of conservativsm changed the face of world in the 80’s and 90’s with a drive towards mass globalisation.  Yet, as New Labour increasingly adopted this neo-liberal economic approach, few could see the ideological direction the Conservatives could head in.  They advocate change, but to what? The electorate, at least in part, is beginning to see through these grey parties similarities.  Equally ideologically speaking, we can see the Liberals swaying to the limits of different understandings of liberalism (from the neo to the classical).

The three main political parties are in a blur.  I do not believe that ideology is dead; I think politicians are ignoring it.  It is about time that we as the electorate, state that ideologies should play the central role in politics it deserves. I am fed up with air brushed politics, fake smiles and popularity chasing!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Conservativism and change? A contradiction in terms?

  1. Alan-a-dale

    I agree… and I think the televised debates between the leaders have done nothing to reassure voters that any of the main parties’ policies offer the chance of any real change. When a situation is bad – as many perceive the situation of the UK to currently be – holding out the prospect of change (with the promise that this will be change for the better) is bound to be appealing.

    But what we actually see are policies that are half-baked, half-hearted and cobbled together to court popular public opinion (the immigration policies of all three major parties being the most obvious example of this).

    Britain needs a new, radical and, above all, courageous party to face the challenges of the next 5 years. We can only hope that the party that offers this – the Greens – gets some MP’s into parliament on 6th May.

    Like

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