Matthew Groves was a
Conservative Councillor in Surrey for eight years before running for Parliament
in Plymouth Moor View at the last general election, where he achieved a 7.9
percent swing to the Conservatives. After this he worked for the Church
of England's Parliamentary Unit promoting the role of the church in education
as well as raising with MPs the constitutional dangers of Nick Clegg's plans
Conservatism is more of an attitude than a political dogma. While there are many in the modern Conservative Party who adhere to political creeds such as libertarianism or liberal conservatism, surely a desire to conserve and a scepticism about sudden change is more about values and attachment to the tried-and-tested than ideology or political theory. And that is a good thing. I still believe that while the majority of the British public are not necessarily overly enamoured with the concept of the invisible hand of the market or shrinking the state, they do possess an innate conservatism. It is that commonsense sceptism about political theories that kept the ancient institutions of state, the monarchy, the established church and the House of Lords intact in the turbulence of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries and saw the Conservative Party flourish in the era of universal suffrage in the last Century. Lose touch with that conservative attitude and the Party loses the foundations of its support.
That is why it is deeply worrying that the Conservative Party seems to have developed an enthusiasm to be seen to be doing and changing. My suspicion is that most people would prefer it if politicians did less not more. The trouble with politics is that it can attract the sort of person who wants to make their name and usually a name is gained by changing something, whether or not the change is good – Edward Heath taking Britain into the Commonmarket or Nick Clegg’s abortive attempt to destroy the House of Lords spring to mind. The Conservative Party should be the natural foil to this – it represents the attitude so pithily summed up by the second Viscount Falkland: “When it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change.”
It seems that many of the areas of policy where the Conservative Party has been perceived as vulnerable in recent times are where they have been more radical. It is people’s natural conservatism that leads them to resent the growth of the supermarket at the expense of the local high street and it is again conservatism that leads people to resist development in their backyard; indeed the whole urge to protect the environment is a sort of conservatism – the conservation movement.