Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 192
28th April 2010
Linking url: http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc192.htm
Available for debate on LA Blog at
“Wait for Us to Fail, Then Vote BNP!”
The Conservative Hidden Agenda?
By Sean Gabb
I think we can all agree that the Conservative campaign in this election has never been more than uninspiring. We have a Labour Government that has come close to bankrupting the country and to destroying it politically. It is run by a collection of unindicted war criminals and traitors, who have plainly been hard at work for the past decade enriching themselves on a scale unknown since the 18th century. All this, and the Conservatives are trying hard to avoid a hung parliament in which Labour may be able to carry on with Liberal Democrat support.
This could be the effect of incompetence and general dishonesty. In part, I am sure it is. However, there may be another explanation, and I feel the time has come for me to make my own small offering in the election campaign.
On Monday the 5th March 2007, I had coffee with someone I will call XYZ, and who was and still may be an associate of David Cameron. Why he wanted to see me, and why he thought it might be useful to tell me all this, I have never been able to explain. I can only say that the meeting did happen – it happened, I might add, in the hotel where Andrew Gilligan had his meetings with the unfortunate David Kelly! Afterwards, as is my custom, I made a record of the meeting in my diary.
Started in 1977, and kept since 1991 in various computer formats, this diary has become a confession of my doings as scandalous or simply bizarre as anything in the novels of Richard Blake. When he was alive, Chris Tame used to lecture me on the value of taking a tape recorder into such conversations. I always refused his advice. Taping conversations is dishonourable. Anyone of intelligence will know that he is being recorded. And recordings are actually less useful for any legitimate purpose than written accounts made shortly after the event. They are certainly less useful practice for the analytical faculties. You may respond that writing out private conversations is as dishonourable as taping them. You are welcome to your opinion, but I do not share it. Where would history be without such accounts of what was said? Or you might say that it is dishonourable to publish such accounts while the relevant parties are alive. You may be right here. On the other hand, where written accounts are concerned, it is always open to an embarrassed party to deny that the conversation took place, or to insist that he was seriously misrepresented.
But this is a digression brought on by the triumph of self-importance over the promptings of conscience. Without further attempts to justify myself, what I give below is the relevant diary entry, edited only to maintain a reasonable anonymity for the person I met.
The Diary Entry
Meeting with XYZ, The Charing Cross Hotel, Monday the 5th March 2007.
[After some small talk irrelevant to this entry, XYZ moves to an explanation of the Conservative strategy]
XYZ – The central fact of this nation is that its political and media classes are rotten to the core. These classes are made up of ageing radicals who’ve spent the past 30 years marching through the institutions, and of younger apparatchiks who don’t fully believe, but who accept the framework within which they operate. And it’s worse than this. A fish rots from the head down, and the rot in this nation has spread deep into the body. Key parts of the electorate may not consciously have embraced the statist and green and politically correct ideologies of the Establishment. But they have been desensitised to them. They regard any alternative as eccentric or even alarming.
SIG – This is, of course, your fault. You did nothing when you were in office about the capture of ideological hegemony by these people. You have certainly been the only political force able to make any serious challenge to it since 1997. You have entirely failed to do this. We are now a couple of years from yet another election in which you will take part as outsiders.
XYZ – You may be right, but that doesn’t change things now. What matters is that a Conservative Party that talks openly about a conservative agenda will be ruined by the Establishment. It will also not be believed even by the uncorrupted parts of the electorate – these have been lied to too often. Our only option is to announce a superficial acceptance of the new order of things. We must become as politically correct as everyone else. We must embrace blacks and gays and the public sector. We must give the Establishment no excuse for destroying us. This has succeeded so far as the Conservatives are now accepted as the next Government.
SIG – And you suppose that lying your way into office will give you a mandate for radical change? If you run as “Blue Labour”, that is how everyone will expect you to behave in office. Besides, I’ve seen no evidence that your friends are as clever as you doubtless are. Very few people can consistently say one thing while believing something else. The problem with any hidden agenda is that it gets forgotten. I saw this with all those Tory Boy politicians who drifted through the libertarian movement in the 1980s. Perhaps they did believe all their early protestations of libertarian purity. Long before they’d crawled their way over broken glass into Parliament, they’d come to believe all the authoritarian platitudes that had been the price of success. I don’t believe what you are saying is a credible strategy for doing more than getting yourself and your friends back into office.
XYZ – I’m not talking about a political coup. The next Conservative Government may do some of the necessary work of restoration. It will do this by undoing much of the centralisation of the past quarter century. [He refers at this point to a deeply unpleasant argument we had over dinner in May 1989. He accepts the critique of the centralisation and constitutional vandalism of the Thatcher and Major Governments, but tries to justify all this as a failed but honourable Leninist strategy of trying to smash the left. He accepts that this strategy was a failure and that it needs to be reversed.]
XYZ – Giving control of police forces to locally elected chiefs will ensure that some parts of the country will escape the political correctness of central government. There will be no scaling back of the police state, but it might be used more for its alleged purpose of fighting what everyone regards as actual crime. This means that safe Labour areas will continue their descent into the gutter. But places like Kent and Surrey will be allowed to save themselves to some extent.
XYZ – Taxes will be cut—but only by a division of the fruits of economic growth with continued high spending on health and education.
XYZ – All else will be done by engineering circumstances in which radical action will seem to have been forced on an unwilling Conservative Government. For example, the European issue will be settled by a strategy that beings with all the Majorite “heart of Europe” rhetoric. Our Government will make solidly Europhile noises, and will give way on matters that cause outrage within the wider Movement. However, we will then engineer a crisis in Brussels, where we are bullied into accepting what we say is unacceptable. The crisis will proceed to the point where we announce we have no choice but to call a referendum on continued membership. And there will be unacceptable demands from Brussels – that is how these things work. We can portray ourselves as forced by circumstances into actions that we find unwelcome but also unavoidable.
SIG – And suppose the people do not vote for withdrawal?
XYZ – Then we face facts. If we can’t engineer a vote for withdrawal – not even in our own carefully chosen circumstances – we’ve lost.
XYZ – We will tackle illegal immigration in the same way. Already, there are calls from within the Establishment for an amnesty of all the illegals. If granted, this will add at least ten million Labour voters to the electorate, and we shall be lost forever. In office, we will do nothing to check these calls. At last, we will give way to them – but only after calling a referendum. We will announce that a measure so bold and so unpredictable in its effect must be put to the people, not decided within the Establishment. We will then produce a ballot paper with a range of options. One of these will be for a complete amnesty. Another will be the rounding up and expulsion of all the illegals. Our Government will insist of having these options included on the ballot paper, and will then be scrupulously neutral during the campaign. We are sure that 80 per cent of the electorate will vote for expulsion. This will give the necessary mandate for getting them out. There will be room for exceptions so that the Establishment is not able to seize on the usual hard cases and discredit the whole policy. But that is our real policy on immigration.
XYZ – Again, we expect something like an 80 per cent vote for expulsion. That will give us the mandate to force the bureaucracy into ruthless action. It also gives us the excuse for ruthless action when the lefty complaints begin.
SIG – Even supposing I wanted any of this, I don’t believe a word you are saying. You forget everything Chris Tame and I were told in the 1980s about how the State could be scaled back by taking advantages of its own inner contradictions. All we got was a more efficient state. Why should I take any of what you are saying as more than self-delusion to lubricate a Tory sell-out to the ideological hegemony of the left?
XYZ – Look, it may fail. If, however, the next Conservative Government does nothing good, that still moves the argument forward. At the moment, most of our people are anaesthetised by a decade of prosperity and by the vague belief that all problems created by Labour can be sorted out by voting Conservative next time, or by voting UKIP. A Conservative failure will be a shot of cold water in the face. It will force people to make serious choices they don’t presently think are necessary.
SIG – The purpose of voting UKIP is mostly to put pressure on a Conservative leadership that understands no other argument than measuring the haemorrhage of its core vote. Indeed, it shows no sign of having understood that argument.
XYZ – Sean, UKIP has imploded. [He refers to an expenses dispute with the Electoral Commission that appeared set to bankrupt the UK Independence Party: this conversation took place two years before the UKIP victories in the 2009 European elections.] This attack was not wholly an outside job. The Electoral Commission bent over backwards to avoid taking the action it did. The problem is that the UKIP leadership is generally arrogant and shambolic. The party is not a serious alternative to the Tories – we never lose large numbers of votes to it in any election that matters. But the impending collapse of UKIP is to be welcomed in terms of short term electoral advantage. Our loss of votes to it is not critical, but is annoying. More importantly, that – plus your anticipated Tory failure in government – clears the way for what may be the next step in British politics.
SIG – This being another two decades of useless Conservative Governments?
XYZ – No. The UKIP collapse is good in the long term so far as it allows the BNP to move further into the political running. UKIP is a useful safety valve. But its leaders are too stupid – or too controlled – to present any serious threat to the Establishment. The [British National Party] is different. It can’t be smashed. The Establishment has tried and failed. Its leaders have known each other for decades, and are used to working together in ways the UKIP leadership and activists could never manage. It cannot advance far at the moment because the Conservatives stand in its way. If the next Conservative Government is the sort of failure you believe it will be, we shall be pushed aside, and the path will be clear for the BNP.
SIG – So that’s your argument. We keep our mouths shut while your people lie their way into office. If they mess up, the way is cleared for the BNP to do the job for you?
That is what XYZ told me. You can be sure this is not a verbatim record of our conversation. It is a summary, made on the same evening, of a long conversation that went back on itself and over itself, and covered several other issues. It is possible that I misunderstood what was said to me. It is possible that I missed something out, and that this is a seriously unbalanced account of what was said. But I have been keeping a diary since I was a boy; and several million words of narrative have given me the ability to record events and conversations with acknowledged accuracy. What I give above is the essence of what I was told.
Now, I will say nothing about the morality of what was said. The real question is what was its meaning? I do not believe I am, or was, a person of sufficient importance to deserve this kind of private briefing. All else aside, I am not sure why I should have been thought to require a promise of what amounts to ethnic cleansing. But, once we move into this sort of backroom intrigue, the range of explanations can be endless.
One possibility is that I was being used as a conduit for propaganda that the Conservative leadership was not able to make for itself. Perhaps I was supposed to publish all this at the time as part of an effort to reconcile the core vote to a strategy that has never been popular. Or perhaps I was supposed to publish it to further some private intrigue around David Cameron. Or perhaps XYZ wanted to spend an evening telling me falsehoods of which he hoped thereby to persuade himself. Was I simply the most convenient excuse for a guilty monologue? I could fill whole pages with speculations that go nowhere. I did not make the conversation public at the time. It was, indeed, the inspiration for my book Cultural Revolution, Culture War, published a few months later. This should be read as my extended response to the conversation.
All I can say now is that the Conservative leadership has spent the past three years of relentlessly accepting the present order of things. I think this conversation was before David Cameron’s embrace of Polly Toynbee. It was certainly before his announcements of – so far unrequited – love for the BBC and the National Health Service. This might really be the Conservative hidden agenda.
If, however, it is the hidden agenda, it is not working. As said, its principals may already have gone native: they may have come to believe their own propaganda. And it does seem that, even otherwise, it has failed. The proposed victims of the strategy have not been sufficiently lulled into acceptance of a Conservative victory; and the Conservative core vote has not held up in the manner required. The Conservatives are just over a week away from an election that they should win more convincingly than the Liberals won in 1906, and there is a serious chance that they will lose.
Why am I publishing this now? It may explain what the Conservatives are really about. Otherwise, though, the conversation did take place. XYZ was at the time a person of some importance in the Conservative leadership. This makes the conversation of some historical importance. I am not fully aware of the arguments that took place within the Conservative leadership before David Cameron had made himself entirely supreme. But, even if I cannot say anything of who was putting it or of its weight, what I recorded in 2007 may have been one of those arguments. Oh – and it may get me a footnote in one of the more scholarly histories of our age.
Of course, I refuse to discuss the identity of XYZ. I will ignore any private questions. If anyone puts names to me in public, my response will be “No comment”. And, of course, all the other many sensitive conversations I have recorded over the years will remain confidential. Some of them, after all, might be embarrassing to me!
NB—Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded for free from http://tinyurl.com/ya4pzuh