A MAJOR NEW CONSERVATIVEHOME SERIES LOOKS AT THE POTENTIAL OF THE INTERNET TO SUPPORT A CONSERVATIVE RENAISSANCE IN BRITAIN. EU SERF KICKS OFF THIS SERIES...
Serf is a Blogger who writes at www.eu-serf.blogspot.com and
www.oncemore.co.uk. He also has a Conservative Portal at
www.rightlinks.co.uk and would like all conservative bloggers to submit
their websites to the directory. He has been blogging on politics for the past year and a half, but, he says, "has been boring his friends on the subject for much longer". He has been a regular visitor to ConservativeHome since its inception.
Have any of you been embarrassed to admit to being a Conservative? Have you ever felt like a pariah the minute you offer an opinion on a political issue at a dinner party? Why is it so difficult to be a Tory in polite company?
It’s incredible that a party whose philosophy is based upon the simple foundation of freedom of individual action, whose greatest wish is to see successful families, an economically active and satisfied population and a ruling system that is accountable to the people it is supposed to serve, can be seen in such a bad light.
We are the selfish party. Somehow wishing to keep hold of your own hard earned cash is selfish, but wanting a slice of someone else’s, which is what our opponents are all about, is altruistic.
I believe that one of the major reasons for this anachronism is that the Conservative Party has been so reluctant to defend its ideological position against sustained attack. Faced with an onslaught of accusations, the preferred defence has been to pretend to be something else, rather than questioning the dodgy assumptions in our adversaries’ critique. David Cameron’s rejection of our nation’s most successful Prime Minister ever, was just the latest of a long line of examples.
The problem is that political parties are primarily about winning elections. Winning elections is not about ideology or taking big risks. It cannot be about deep philosophical questions. If we are to persuade the general population of the value of our beliefs, we need to augment the power of the party with a whole infrastructure of conservative pressure groups.
Our cousins across the water have been very adept at working outside of the strictures of the party to create pressure for the kind of policies they want. They have also been very vocal in supporting their team when it comes through. Right wing blogs made a world of difference to the debate leading up to the presidential election. Religious organisations helped get out the vote. Why is the land of rugged individualism so much better at community?
The UK is blessed with a number of good Think Tanks - Reform and The Adam Smith Institute spring to mind. But for most of the public, think tanks are too esoteric, too academic. They produce great ideas, but without help from the media or political parties, these ideas remain the preserve of the chosen few.
What is needed is something that acts as an interface between the political anoraks and the general public. We need popular politics. We also need partisanship. Think Tanks try to remain party independent, so as to get their message out without prejudice. In a way, that limits their value to our cause.
There are those in the blogsphere whose belief in traditional Conservative values is leading them to ask if they have a place in David Cameron’s Conservative party. The reality is that the Conservative Party is the only show in town. If we disagree with the direction that the leadership is heading all we can do is to try and persuade the public, that our ideas are worth considering. We need to move the common ground towards us.
What we need are blatantly partisan, but party independent campaign organisations. We need a grassroots (or netroots) movement that can take the best ideas of the Think Tanks and others and promote them to the general public. These groups can fight the battle of ideals in a way not possible for a party seeking power, or a Think Tank seeking influence. They can promote real Conservative Values.
As we have seen in the USA, the prime area of activity for such groups is the internet.
Each of us as individuals needs to identify those things that we care most about and join pressure groups that address those issues. If we are bloggers, we need to help promote all those who share our views. I am often surprised at the lack of links the average Conservative blogger has to his fellow would be opinion makers. We need to help each other reach an audience and we need to share information.
The level of communication of many of the existing groups is pathetic. All think tanks, campaign and pressure groups need active blogs. This is an area that we are experts in and can really make a difference. The fact that a website of the quality of ConservativeHome is the product of its owner’s spare time is a damning reality for the so called professionals. If we can reproduce the level of involvement and depth of content of this site 100 times, we would be well on the way to winning the arguments.
Most of all, we all have to understand that without a concerted effort on the part of people like us, the majority of our fellows will continue to labour under the false impression that Social Democracy is somehow about caring.
We have this great tool, called the internet and it is time we took full advantage of it to promote our view of how our nation should be governed. We are the most active UK Conservative community online. If we don’t do it then who will?