I’ve been thinking over the past few days about fringe groups and offshoot sections of the Conservative Party, trying to work out the benefits across the board. I started thinking about it when I stumbled across and researched old (and now closed) Tory fringes. They each had their merits and their time in place, but ultimately shared detrimental hindrances: the Monday Club’s lowly membership now is reflective of a non-racist modern Conservative, and the Swinton Circle’s drama follows us to modern day. While both of these groups aim to represent, what could loosely be described as conservative Conservatism, or the true values of a traditional Conservative, the weight they could ever have had was minimal.
Iain Duncan Smith severed the imaginary ties with the Monday Club, as an attempt to soften the party image. The Conservative Party though, has been growing softer and softer for the past one hundred and fifty years. The Monday Club during the seventies and eighties had a valuable representation of Conservative members and conservative ideals. Yet the requests on immigration were quietly ignored. As the Monday Club softened its own immigration policy, so did the face of the mainstream Conservative Party.
The Freedom Association, which amusingly like all other Conservative fringes, has referred to itself as the ‘conservative wing of the Tory party,’ is one of the political fringes that today has most resonance. One of the reasons it works is their commonsense: that despite their wishes to operate a British-style Tea Party, Simon Richards still recognises the fear that racist elements of the country would forge with it. And yet what can The Freedom Association, or any of the fringes that have existed, actually achieve? The immigration policies requested by the Monday Club were never motioned. But more importantly now, the requests by the Freedom Association for a referendum on Europe (a request that is echoed throughout the majority of the right-wing media, and a wish expressed with the majority of the country) is going to be swiftly ignored.
All of this occurs as David Cameron, like a history of Conservative leaders before, moves the party closer into the grey political centre of British politics. The difference between Cameron and some of his predecessors however, is that the current Conservative Party is not a racist institution. It is not homophobic. It is not, by any means ‘nasty.’ It wasn’t before he took it over and it certainly isn’t now. Yet Cameron and Clegg’s you-got-a-friend-in-me relationship was all too easy. Repeatedly Cameron will be criticsed for dragging his party to the left. A move which was once needed for the party. But if it is to happen anymore, like the erosion of our sovereignty into the hands of the EU, it will soon erase any sense of conservatism about the Conservative Party. I fully support The Freedom Association, it represents what I and many others in the party and the country, believe in. Yet with history on our sides, it looks like this country will forever drag to left, with the common consensus being wrongfully ignored.