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Donal Blaney: The Conservative Party needs a conservative movement

Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons' Foundation, Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Despite repeated electoral successes throughout the 1980s, the Right failed to win the cultural battle that the Left began waging in the 1960s. A steady infiltration of schools and universities was followed by a concerted assault on the prison system, the judiciary and, recently, the police.

The Left has managed to sustain itself through the efforts of the ever-growing class of politically motivated employees of the state (self-styled public servants), trades unionists and other taxpayer-funded interest groups who can all rely on the instinctive support of their fellow travellers in the mainstream print and broadcast media and their spokesmen in Parliament.

In contrast, those who have traditionally been seen as being on the Right – campaigners for standards in education, Eurosceptics, Atlanticists, those favouring choice and less state control in health and education and so on – have failed to work together to secure their desired ends.

In their seminal book, The Right Nation, Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait graphically illustrate the concerted building of a conservative movement from the 1970s onwards. If you read no other political book this year, please read this book.

It is the development of this true conservative movement – a coalition of groups which share some, but not by any means all, of their goals – that saw the victories of Reagan in 1980 and 1984, Bush 41 in 1988 and Bush 43 in 2000 and 2004, as well as the seizure of Congress in 1994. Groups such as the National Rifle Association, Americans for Tax Reform and the Christian Coalition worked alongside other libertarians, social conservatives, economic liberals, foreign policy hawks and everyday citizens to create a movement that will still prove difficult to defeat in November, despite the challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So in Britain, a true conservative movement needs to be developed. Countryside campaigners, Eurosceptics, fiscal conservatives, royalists, environmentalists, family values activists, voluntary sector workers and so on all need to work together to achieve their goals.

This week in Bournemouth, maximum effort should be expended on the fringes of the main conference hall to continue building a true conservative movement in Britain. There will be many occasions when the goals of libertarians and social conservatives – on issues such as gay rights, abortion and so on – do not coincide. But the fact is that libertarians and social conservatives would both surely prefer a Conservative government – even one led by David Cameron – than yet another four years of fiscal irresponsibility, EU integration and political correctness.  The shields logo of ConservativeHome represents this movement in graphical form.

Shields_1 For such a movement to flourish, it must be recognized by the Party that its component parts may well on occasions disagree with the official Party line. Rather than seeing such disagreements as evidence of wanton disloyalty that needs to be stamped on (as some of the more hysteric posters on this site seem to argue should be the case), the Party should recognize that there are many things that the wider conservative movement can and should be saying that the Party cannot and should not.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance is leading the fight against ever more wasteful government expenditure and the seemingly unending growth of the state. The Centre for Social Justice works tirelessly with voluntary groups in tackling the tragedy of social decay that has only been exacerbated by the state.

For the conservative movement to grow as quickly as we might all wish, its leaders need to work yet more closely together for the common good. Members of the conservative movement need to help each other in times of difficulty. Victory can be ours at the next election and the leftward cultural shift that would have made Chairman Mao proud can be reversed. But this can only happen if we build a truly diverse conservative movement, led by visionaries who work together and who learn the lessons from the successes of the conservative movement in the United States, Canada and Australia.

The Conservative Party alone cannot win the next election, nor particularly can CCHQ (even if it is based in Millbank Tower). But a conservative movement working to further conservative values and a conservative agenda can help deliver victory.

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