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Chris Hossack: We need a CPAC in the UK

Chris_hossack Chris Hossack, a councillor on Brentwood Borough Council, looks at the value of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

For those who can see beyond the NRA hype, the tasteless albeit humorous T shirts and bumper stickers and the ‘Coulteresque side shows’, there is some very serious debate, discussion and business being carried out at the Conservative Political action Conference (CPAC).

Before you are about to consider deriding this long standing Political Action Conference and this defence of it. It might be worth acknowledging some key facts;

CPAC is now in it’s 35th year and the momentum is growing. It is not a Republican Party Conference, it is a meeting of Conservative minds.

This is no fringe event either, the ‘Leader of the Free World’ and his Deputy and key advisors all address this conference. Republican candidates avoid CPAC at their peril. It is part of the mainstream of the Conservative Republican movement in the best and largest democracy in the West. Like it or not.

Being an American event, one can and should expect a certain amount of exuberance from it’s delegates, not something we Brits often feel comfortable around, but forget your preconceptions for a moment and look and listen to what is being said, because you will not find it here in Britain.

At CPAC the issues addressed are of huge importance, not just to America but to other Western democracies such as ours. They will go directly to the issues that we in our overly cautious PC society fear to tread near, debate and alternative arguments are encouraged.

What impresses me most is the extent to which social conservative issues are brought to the fore and the framework of morality in which they are addressed without shame; The Pro-life debate is one such example, whilst the mainstream conservatives in the UK tip toe around the issue, to the Conservative Republican Movement it is pivotal. Human life is revered and respected in all it’s forms and at all stages - this position is clear. Traditional family values and the traditional family model gets unequivocal support also.

Climate Change, instead of taxing the problem away (the UK approach) the view that a healthy and innovative economy produces a healthy environment is propounded, explore this further – it makes sense.

The war on terrorism, if Bush really wanted to win the popularity contest for his party at home, then the sustained and increased presence in Iraq was not the way forward. He continues the war because he believes unshakeably in the principles of freedom and democracy that are so deeply ingrained into American Society. President Bush believes entirely that this is something which had to be done at this point in history, he and his government are taking a stand now so that the future generations of Americans won’t have to. The fact is that when the surge was proposed last year, the media poured scorn upon it. Well, it is having the desired effect, yet the media a suddenly silent on the issue. America has not suffered a terrorist attack at home for over 6 years now. Ultimately history will be judge of the whole affair.

This all said, this article is not at all about Republican Governmental Policy, but I mention some of the ‘hot topics’ for context. If you want to get a fuller flavour of the way some of the great conservative minds are currently thinking Stateside, take look at what that great architect of Conservative policy, Mr Newt Gingrich, is proposing under I challenge any real conservative to disagree with any of it. It may be an American document but it can largely be applied here at home. But after some slight de-americanisation and perhaps the addition of the EU issue, it is a workable strategy and framework that could be applied here.

It springs forth from a real belief in ‘by the people for the people’. Sadly, not something we are too familiar with here, thanks to big government and the nanny state.

In the UK there is no event to compare with CPAC in terms of its patriotism, its passion, and the willingness to fight and stand for true conservative principles.

We here have an annual Conservative Party Conference that is usually only superseded in it’s ‘drabness’ by the Victorian Seaside resorts in which they are held.

The average age of the activists at CPAC has to be some 35 to 40 years less that those we see at party conference – bless them. So what does this tell us? firstly you have to applaud the commitment of the young delegates. But something is impassioning them. Let us not speculate about what it might be; young people like straight talkers, whether they agree or not, they like to know where you stand as a politician and a leader. The plain spokeness of the Republican leaders and the simple language they use, pulls no punches, one doesn’t have to unravel the meanings in what is being said – sound anything like our politicians at home? Don’t be silly!

Secondly and more worryingly, the lack of youth involvement (aside from the usual political junkies) in any significant numbers at party conference, does beg the question; ‘Where are the conservatives of tomorrow who will stand unashamedly for true conservative values and principles?’

Without question the ordinary 20/30 somethings (along with the rest of the beleaguered masses) in the UK are switched off from political engagement and democratic participation – how tragic.

I believe events such as CPAC and the atmosphere and spirit in which they are held, need to be replicated here in the UK. Something has to be done, because ‘if we do what we’ve always done we’ll get what we’ve always got’, and more importantly what we deserve.

Would it work? I can think of very few Tory politicians who could really carry this off. Their centrist approach to politics has been one big turn off for the last decade. Young people don’t want someone whose trying to look trendy, they want people to ‘be real’ and principled. Sadly for most of our Tory Politicians their cards are irretrievably marked. 

However, I believe all is not lost, there are enough young people sitting at the periphery of mainstream politics, who are increasingly fed up with the lack of action and direction from Westminster. They have their futures ahead of them, they are proud and patriotic enough to want to put Britain back on track. I know who they are, and so do they, if you want a clue, look at some of the non partisan activist groups that have sprung up over recent years, full of clearly focussed, articulate and intelligent young people who really care about Britain’s future and are increasingly disgusted at the shambles that our elected politicians continue to make of it.

So in conclusion, let us be clear, the stakes are high, very high. Even in the US, the liberal movement is strong and from Jan 2009 there may no longer be a Conservative leader at the helm of the largest Western Democracy in the World. 

The time to galvanise the next generation of British Conservative minds has come. ‘On to Democracy’ and ‘Forward for Freedom’.


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