I read recently, though can’t now pinpoint where, that no single political party representing the English has ever properly understood their true conservative nature. This tweet which has just come my way reminds of this observation:
Farage: a pint, a fag, no control of his party, bigotry galore, and people vote for him? We need a change in electorate as well as govt.
And returning to the original observation, I realise now how mistaken it is. It’s not that no single political party has ever properly understood their true conservative nature but rather, quite differently, that such parties have understood it all too well. And as a result, they have – to a greater or lesser degree – chosen to ignore it.
As I argued some time ago in relation to the destructive swings of excluding politics:
The desire for vengeance, the impulse to recover so much lost time, the blind hatred of the other’s ideas … all this leads to an awful environment akin to a pressure-cooker of prejudice, where time postpones the ability to impose what inevitably become one’s tragic instincts.
Nevertheless, as the pendulum swings back, eventually power does return to the vengeful right – or, indeed, the vengeful left. And so all those suppressed and supposedly politically incorrect opinions find their voice, their bullying courage and their aggressive channels of communication all over again.
Yet pressure-cookers are only good for cooking food. Opinion is surely best let out on a regular basis. As the Spanish would say, only by speaking can we understand people. And if we choose, on either side, to suppress the right for political movements to participate in democratic process, each time the pendulum swings evermore violently back we can only expect further violence in return.
Perhaps what uniquely distinguishes UKIP’s verbal discourse, then (as opposed to the managerialist and toff-nosed leaders who peddle its wares), is that it looks not to avoid such possibilities of violence. It looks, in fact, not to approach the electorate from the point of view of those educated political souls who understand the dangers of giving the public what it actually believes in but, instead, to engage the same by giving public voice to all its prejudices. Whilst traditional right- and left-wing parties have both managed to contain such English conservatism, this doesn’t mean the latter has gone away. And although in the presence of an economy which at least offered hope it has been happy to simply bubble under the surface, generally out of sight of all those social networks and media as its prejudices are shared across multiple garden-fenced and pint-inscribed conversations, when crisis hits home the fracturing nature of English conservatism has finally found in Farage’s foraging in the undergrowth of our beliefs that pressure-cooker valve I refer to above.
The danger is, of course, that what starts out as a release valve of pent-up pressure converts itself into a political party with its hands on the levers of power.
Perhaps, after all, we do need a new electorate. But that will only really happen when the real powers in this world stop wilfully destroying environments of support, empowerment and societal liberation.
A big ask indeed.
On the other hand, if your aim is actually to engineer brutish societies of lowest-common-denominator capitalism, those are surely the kind of voters you’ll end up getting.
Talk about one forward gear and five reverse. In their love of ancient comfort zones, political cowards without exception surely.