Saturday, 5 December 2009

What's a conservative to do?

A good summation:
The point of conservatism, you see, is not political. Real conservatives get involved in politics because they have to, not because they want to. And they have to to rectify obvious disasters or utopian assaults on freedom or radical attacks on established modes and orders. We are conservative in politics in part to restrict the claims of politics and to enlarge the claims of life.

More or less straightforward, most of the time.

But if global warming is an 'obvious disaster' in need of rectification, don't some of its remedies include 'utopian assaults on freedom or radical attacks on established modes and orders'? How do you separate out the pragmatic and prudential from the utopian and radical?

For the conservative who's convinced by the threat of man-made global warming, it's a tricky one. But unless a way can be threaded through this conflict, I don't think anything substantive is going to be achieved, at least while the consequences of global warming lie in the future. People and their governments, naturally conservative despite the rhetoric of politicians, won't wear it.

UPDATE: Just come across this - a good analysis of the problem.

12 comments:

Sean said...

All good Conservatives will take out the appropriate insurance policy.

Nothing more conservative than insurance.

Francis Sedgemore said...

In his Indescribable article David Davis discusses practical policies that are in the process of being implemented by a Labour government.

worm said...

I'm confused - who should I write an angry letter to now?

yours,

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

Hey Skipper said...

Presume AGW is true as given. Then what must happen to prevent the consequences?

I don't think any liberal country--about which we are being conservative--will agree to any the "must happens".

So, absent tyranny, we are certain to find out how accurate the apocalyptic models are.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Indeed, a rather invorating and convincing resume of Conservatism, but I involuntary emitted a loud guffaw when I read "Real conservatives get involved in politics because they have to, not because they want to" (I have a 2nd cousin who's as "real" a Conservative as I've ever known and certainly took his job as local counsellor for personal glorification rather than to save the universe...)

Peter Burnet said...

Isn't it fair to ask how a conservative of the kind you have described became "convinced" of the threat of AGW? (I'm assuming you mean IPCC orthodoxy.) After all, it's basically still an untested and untestable (and increasingly protean) series of future predictions that come on the heels of a series of popular "scientific" doomsday predictions that didn't pan out. It would, I agree, be equally unconservative to reject it in toto, but where is that sceptical insistence on empirical validation?

Gaw said...

Sean: I've certainly got mine.

Francis: '..in the process of being implemented' is pretty inadequate with less than six months remaining, don't you think? Their action falls well short of their rhetoric and those ridiculous adverts. Energy and transport policy have both been shambles.

Worm: Put it in a bottle, throw it in the ocean, and it will appear at your bedroom window in a few years time.

Skipper: I think you're absolutely right. Whilst doing what is realistic re prevention, miitigation and adaptation needs to be a bigger part of the plan.

Gadjo: Sounds as if your second cousin couldn't be distant enough!

Peter: It's a hypothesis. I agree there's a jump to be made to get to this position. But increasingly I'm finding myself thinking GW is probably happening, it's probably AGW and it could be bad. So why not do something about it? That something not being utopian or radical. I think we need to develop an approach that satisfies the sceptical (but not the outright denying).

Francis Sedgemore said...

The policy in question is complex, and is being developed and implemented by experts rather than politicos. It therefore stands some chance of success, and will almost certainly be continued by the next government, whatever its political complexion. But it is a Labour initiative. Credit where credit's due, and all that.

Gaw said...

Francis: There have been hardly any useful and consistent transport and energy policies under this government let alone green ones. Remember the fabled 'integrated transport policy'? Decisions on nuclear constantly delayed. There are many more examples.

Francis Sedgemore said...

Gareth - You can hardly expect me to defend ‘New Labour’ as a whole. But you have written about the need for practical policies on energy generation and use, and this one fits the bill.

Gaw said...

My point was that it's rather late in the day and it's a bit bathetic when compared to the rhetoric. BTW I'm not expecting a massive increase in competence and straightforwardness from the next lot.

Gadjo Dilo said...

My second cousin may be very good at what he does, and I sincerely wish him the best of luck with it, but the bottom line for us, his family members, is that he will never willingly engage in any conversation about anything other than himself and his doings :-)