wI am spoiled. Last Saturday we were treated to the Conservative Democratic Organization’s Take Control conference. A collection of 200 or so weirdos, led by Nadine Dorries and Andrea Jenkyns, whose lives have been shattered by the loss of Boris Johnson. A passion for a piece of his life. A seance, even. Needless to say, Johnson himself couldn’t be bothered to attend in person. Instead send some signed bottles – not the ones he bought, obviously – to be auctioned in his memory.
On Monday, in just three days, we were treated to the National Conservatism conference. The Nat Cons. A meeting of the minds for those who think Viktor Orbán and Giorgia Meloni might have a point. A convergence of ideologies for the ideologically challenged. The kind of audience where Jordan Peterson would get a hero’s welcome. Not that he bothers with venues as small as London’s Emmanuel Center these days.
So we have to do Tory backbencher Miriam Cates instead as the warm-up act. His message to the faithful is that we need more children. Urgent. There are some obvious flaws in this. First, his audience is 75% male. Perhaps the females took themselves to the side rooms to breed enthusiastically. Then there is the question of what kind of children the UK needs. As quick as Cates is to blame immigration for the low birth rate, it’s safe to assume he doesn’t think foreign babies are wanted on board. Some children are more equal than others.
Cates continues to moan about the current divorce rate. Married people rarely keep their vows. Better for a woman to die of exhaustion with eight children she doesn’t want than to make her own choices. It is not clear where to find homes for all the large families. Everything is cultural Marxism. He might want to rethink that.
Maybe they will all be housed in the houses that the immigrants now live in. And immigrants can go somewhere else. He is whole hearted. This is not to say that he does not think that the nanny state should be involved in helping women raise this surfeit of babies. “Conservatism has always been common sense,” Cates concluded. Talk complete bollocks for 20 minutes.
More than that is following Yoram Hazony, a man who presents himself as an intellectual of the right. He thinks that every month you can’t help but be more conservative, when men are made to do national service. To prevent them from becoming neo-Marxists, apparently. As for women, their greatest contribution to society is having more children.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is at least off the hook, having already fathered six children. Even though she entrusted their upbringing to a nanny. His version of conservatism is that he knows best. Then, he always. Rees-Mogg has yet to discover an issue where he was wrong. But his insight for the day was that Saint Thomas Aquinas was a Brexiter at heart. Which may come as news to Tom.
We’ve raced through a highly selective account of the last 1,000 years of English history, all leading up to that glorious day in June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU. We are not like the French under Napoleon. We don’t have any expansion claims yet. Er … the British empire? Continuing. The housing crisis was caused by planners working from home. Bonkers. Everyone seemed a little lost and Rees-Mogg was furious that there was no more applause.
Then came his criticism of the present. He did not want to criticize the prime minister because it would be disloyal and could lead to discontent in the Tory party. And so in a Marxist government. Anything left on the far right is Marxist to Jakey. But he hates the government for raising taxes. He hates the retained EU law. He hates broken promises. Except for her. He hates any immigration. He hates that the attempt to gerrymander the vote failed. And he became part of the government that introduced voter ID. No shame. He is no longer a tribute act. The Nat Cons are the only people dumb enough to give him an audience.
After a break for lunch, the conference continued with a keynote speech from Suella Braverman. There were two brief pauses for the Extinction Rebellion protests, which Braverman declared were auditions for the shadow cabinet. There is no truer word and so on. This is not a speech but a leadership bid for an opposition party. Braverman is the woman who will take the Tories from 270 seats to 160. But at least they will be the right kind of Conservatives.
Braverman begins with the obligatory 10-minute backstory. His parents were hardworking immigrants. Exactly the kind of people he is now committed to keeping out of the country. They must have been surprised that their daughter became attorney general and home secretary. Not nearly as surprising as the rest of us.
Then we got to his faith. They used to be like that. Braverman is not known for his intellectual hinterland. Those who said Brexit was an economic disaster have been proven wrong. Er … that must be why we have the worst economic performance of the G7. “We Conservatives must not say anything we know to be false,” he said, apparently lying through his teeth. It’s all just a weird combination of crazy and nonsense. Does he really think that only Conservatives love their country? If so, he is dimmer than we thought.
He criticized Sunak’s immigration plans. Immigration must be cut, regardless of the economic cost. We can train Brits to do jobs they have shown no sign of wanting to do. Maybe he wants to lead. “It’s not racist to want to control the borders,” he said. True. But that doesn’t stop some of the Nat Cons. And yes, he was happy to ban any coronation protests.
“Conservatism is not an ideology,” he concluded. This is the universal nature of humanity. That is if you believe that human destiny is to disappear into conspiracy theories and Little England memes. “The facts of life are conservative.” What’s with these oddballs? Everything seems to always come back to sex.