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Blogging will not necessarily save the Conservative Party

The Guardian is serious about blogging, and it is also serious about presenting the occasional non-left piece of writing. (They used regularly to publish pieces by Enoch Powell.) So the surprising thing about this piece about blogging is not that the Guardian published it, but that the name of Iain Duncan Smith appears where the author’s name goes. (I share Patrick Crozier‘s doubts about the piece’s true authorship. And when we are talking about blogging, being who you say you are is a big thing, I think.)

IDS (I will assume this to be real from now on) hopes that blogging will revitalise the right in Britain, and notes that blogging has already revitalised the right in the USA, and has utterly deranged the left by causing the left to drag their party away from electability.

I wonder. I suspect that the problems of the Conservative Party are more serious than that, and that blogging will as likely serve to dramatise all the many differences that are now contained, if that is the right word, within the Conservative Party.

The Conservatives now have a hideous problem. Having lost confidence in its own economic nostrums, with the collapse both of the old USSR and of its own attempts to galvanise the British economy by seizing control of it, the British dirigiste left is content to allow Blair – or, I suspect, any likely successor of Blair – to triangulate away into the sunset. Labour knows that for them, it is either New Labour or no Labour at all. Which means that the Conservatives are no longer united by Labour. Instead they are divided by New Labour.

I do not go out of my way to converse with Conservative Party activists or critics or cheerers-on, but every one of such persons I have met with during the last decade or so has had his own distinct plan for the future of the Conservative Party, consisting of his own preferred mixture of policies. Each activist knows that his particular plan is The Answer, and that all that is needed is for all those other Conservative morons to stop with the negativity and embrace his plan without reservation. Easy really.

The Conservative Party should take a firm stand about this (or its opposite), without compromise. But, it should fearlessly compromise on that, by either lying or not talking about it. Go hard with England, Britain, Europe, the Anglosphere, the World (mix and dilute to taste). Be anti-immigrant, pro-immigrant. Anti-ID-cards, pro-ID-cards. Smash the welfare state, buy voters with an even better welfare state. Cut pensions, raise pensions. Support state education, destroy state education. Defend fox hunting, ignore fox hunting. Applaud the Americans, denounce the Americans. (I once thought that the Conservatives could maybe agree about applauding the Americans and leave the rowing about the Americans to the Labour Party. Fat chance.) Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Every policy front is a distinct way to destroy Conservative Party unity.

It used to be that the Leader would decide all these things. Now they all want to be the Leader. And if they are not the Leader, and a different mixture of policies and attitudes is propose to their preferred mixture by the bloke who is the Leader, they are about as loyal to the Leader as a basket of low-IQ, but poisonous, snakes. As a result, the Conservative Party is now nigh on unleadable. It is not that they have chosen bad Leaders, or for that matter that they have chosen their Leaders by the wrong methods. It is that they cannot be lead.

I cannot see blogging being much help with all this. On the contrary, I think it will only allow the stupid snakes to hiss louder and louder. Blogging will be a whole new source of indiscretions and vituperations, a whole new way to destroy the Conservative Party. The anti-Conservative journalists could have a field day, and I think the Guardian knows it.

IDS says that blogging will put the fear of God into the “metropolitan elite”, and assumes that this will help the Conservative Party. It is just as likely to start a new civil war within it. IDS says that lazy journalists think only of the impact of this or that policy on the opinion polls. Which the leadership of the Conservative Party never does, does it? The title of IDS’s piece is “Bloggers will resue the right”. But what it blogging rescues “the right” from the Conservative Party?

But, we shall see. Politics is weird. Often something that seems utterly impossible one month, becomes unavoidable a few short months later. Maybe blogging will provoke a big Conservative revival.

Personally I do not much care one way or the other. I agree with Perry that a speedy return of a Conservative government would improve very little, and very possibly make things even worse. My loyalty is to blogging itself. This is where I have placed my bets. If blogging very publicly sweeps the Conservatives back into office, hurrah! If it rips the Conservatives into unmendable fragments, hurrah also!

Or then again, maybe the unanimous ignorance of the modern world and its possibilities will mean that the stupid snakes continue to neglect this new way for them to hiss, and we bloggers will have to spread our enthusiasm for this new and amazing medium by quite other means.

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4 comments to Blogging will not necessarily save the Conservative Party

  • Giles

    I think that there’s a deeper reason why IDS is optimistic.

    The problem that you identify is that the right is a bit too individualistic – hence the herding cats problem of the conservative campaign. The left is generally better at conforming to the group message which is useful if you’re running a campaign through the media – i.e. you have a large cadre of hacks, opinion formers and officials who follow the party line. Hence the pre blog dominance of the triangulating left (and its worth remembering that if he could have run, Clinton would probably still be president today).

    The photosphere has however introduced a sort of “wisdom of the crowds” effect into political discourse. Now the key feature of wisdom of the crowd effects is that it requires that the members of the crowd are independent i.e. they don’t form their opinion dependent on one another or some common signal. The reason IDS gave for why blogs are destroying the left is that most blogs on the left are obliged to hold common group values – abortion, the war etc and use the central blogs to co-ordinate the message – channeling Juan Cole Atrios or who ever. While this worked in the media where structure exist to check , in the blogosphere it means that a stupid idea rapidly spreads .

    By contrast the right’s individuality and diversity means that it thinks independently about every idea floating around the internets and filters it without any thought to the “group”. This produces the efficient “wisdom of the crowds outcome and was most evident in the fact that the US right didn’t really make any substantive mistakes during the campaign.

    Where the British right is weakest however is in lacking a central news/fact – as opposed to opinion – blog. Instapundit is I think very important in providing a central trough of raw information that right wing blogs then select depending on their beliefs to process. Instead they’ve rely on the various papers and news sites which means that the questions they’re processing lack a central fact based coridination.

  • The benefit of Blogs to the political elite is firstly as Giles says, the wisdom of crowds. The second is that blazing rows over ideas outside of the major media, go a long way toward telling any major political mover and shaker, what the arguments and counter arguments will be for any particular policy.

    Thus forearmed, new policies can be announced with rebuffs already prepared to any attacks that come. As the media soon tires of any new idea, the initial attacks and defence are essential to the sale of ideas.

  • Stehpinkeln

    I think everbody has missed the target.
    It is just not possible to fool all the people, all the time. The MSM worked on the principal of fooling enough people so those that don’t give a shit go along with the herd. The Internet allows ideas to be examined by a huge number of minds, some of which are very comfortable with boith the subject and the process of critical thought . I think you are expecting the process to go faster then it will.
    Tory’s (Do I have that right? British conservatives are called Tory’s?. Here in the States, Tory’s were people that spent their time hanging from treelimbs by their neck) will eventually use the ‘net to sort thru their ideas to find and polish the best ones before prancing them around in public.
    Then they will run out the Liberals (reactionaries) who basicaly are using ideas 70 to 80 years old that have proven to be invalid (no prance left in the old dog either). There is a need for a central clearing house where new ideas can be ‘shown’ to the public. Sort of like a car show, only less formal. See which prototype model has the public drooling.
    That need will be filled. When the free market is ready for something, somebody will produce it. Trust me on this. The fact that there isn’t one yet just means that the unseen hand hasn’t placed it on the board.

  • Stehpinkeln

    I think everbody has missed the target.
    It is just not possible to fool all the people, all the time. The MSM worked on the principal of fooling enough people so those that don’t give a shit go along with the herd. The Internet allows ideas to be examined by a huge number of minds, some of which are very comfortable with boith the subject and the process of critical thought . I think you are expecting the process to go faster then it will.
    Tory’s (Do I have that right? British conservatives are called Tory’s?. Here in the States, Tory’s were people that spent their time hanging from treelimbs by their neck) will eventually use the ‘net to sort thru their ideas to find and polish the best ones before prancing them around in public.
    Then they will run out the Liberals (reactionaries) who basicaly are using ideas 70 to 80 years old that have proven to be invalid (no prance left in the old dog either). There is a need for a central clearing house where new ideas can be ‘shown’ to the public. Sort of like a car show, only less formal. See which prototype model has the public drooling.
    That need will be filled. When the free market is ready for something, somebody will produce it. Trust me on this. The fact that there isn’t one yet just means that the unseen hand hasn’t placed it on the board.