WELCH: Conservatives Have Conserved Nothing, and In Britain, This Has Lead to an Era of Unaddressed Constitutional Vandalism.

American conservatives have lessons to learn about the state of Britain's right wing movement, or lackthereof.


If the polling is even nearly correct, 2024 will produce the first Labour government in the United Kingdom in 14 years – likely in a coalition with the far-left Scottish National Party (SNP) – which also means there is the strong possibility of the utter annihilation of the Conservative Party.

Rishi Sunak is unlikely to lead the country out of these troubling times within the next two years. Instead, his premiership will likely intensify the current sense of calamity and decline. Some will be inclined celebrate this opportunity for a fresh start, but the threat posed by a Keir Starmer (Labour) and Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) coalition is potent.

The thought of Labour’s shadow cabinet – Angela Rayner as Deputy Prime Minister, David Lammy as Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry as Attorney-General, and no doubt professional race-grifter Shola Mos-Shogbamimu as the leading intellectual figure – is petrifying to the reasonable person. Though there is a greater menace with a new, Labour government.

Labour’s Litany of Constitutional Vandalism.

Labour’s radical constitutional reform would make Tony Blair’s time in office (1997-2007) seem tame. And given the damage he did, that is saying something.

When the ordinary voter plods into the polling station after an arduous day in the office, constitutional reform will not be at the top of their voting agenda. Modern, celebrity-style politics have ousted the civilized and self-respecting political argument. Few people will even enter the voting booth with working knowledge of Britain’s ancient, uncodified constitution, what it means and from where it comes. As a result, the electorate is both uninterested and unaware that constitutional change is on the way.

Malevolent megalomaniacs wishing to preserve political power indefinitely need not make it a priority in their party manifestos, nor need they be vociferous in their advocacy. People simply don’t know, and aren’t interested in knowing.

Such was the case under the first few years of Blair’s ‘New Labour’, during which – per Professor Jeff King at the University of Oxford – the British constitution was changed more than it had been in the previous 250 years. Then, Britain suffered the catastrophe of Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish devolution, as well as an attack on the legal system itself under the guise of the Constitutional Reform Act (2005), the establishment of the Supreme Court, abolishing the ancient position of Lord Chancellor, as well as politicising the nomination of judges. Then came the effective destruction of Britain’s upper parliamentary chamber – the House of Lords.

Killing the Kingdom.

What would the next Labour government introduce? There’s a strong possibility that we would see a second Scottish referendum follow from the inevitable governing coalition with the SNP.

This would cause the Labour Party a dilemma, because to obtain office, Labour needs Scotland. But that means the electoral system would have to be altered, perhaps with a proportional representation system of voting, and the voting age itself lowered to sixteen. This would also lead to a reduction in age necessary to sit on a jury. It would likely lead to the total abolition of the now neutered House of Lords, perhaps in favour of a “more democratic house” replicating the American Senate.

The likelihood of a conservative-leaning party obtaining office in these circumstances would be diminished.

Then, there is the effect a Labour-led government may have on the death of Elizabeth II. Do we want to leave the passing of the crown and the opportunity created thereof to these constitutional vandals? This has drawn little attention in the last few weeks. It hasn’t even crossed the minds of complacent Conservative Party, which seems more interested in choosing between one candidate representing six and the other representing half a dozen. The difference between all these “Tory leadership candidates” is non-existent and of no consequence at all.

Over the next two years, the threat of radical change – not to the un-reformable mammoth of the NHS – must be prioritised. It must be at the forefront of our national conversation. It is not going to be straightforward given the overall sense of public indifference. But it is necessary as a matter of existence.

The British constitution – although uncodified, often illusory, and unapproachable – occupies a far different position from, for example, the American constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is an elephant in a narrow corridor. One can neither ignore, nor work around it. The British constitution is an introverted and inconspicuous set of values and laws, passed down from generation to generation, as it has been for the last 800 years. It is spread thinly across centuries and documents, reflecting both the beauty and the frustration of Englishness. Its beauty lies in its quietness.

One cannot point and say, ‘here are our values and what we stand for,’ as is the case for those across the Atlantic. The closest document in existence is that of the 1689 Bill of Rights. It created the first modern state by way of being run with a supreme electoral assembly, which was then utilised by the proceeding generations to their benefit. Within the Bill, frequent parliaments, free elections, freedom of speech for members of parliament, no taxation without parliamentary consent, freedom from governmental intervention or interference, the right to petition, as well as the just treatment of people by the courts were all guaranteed.

This became a source of immense pride amongst the British of the proceeding centuries. No parades had to be held, no songs sung, no guns fired, nor any political fights due to the rigidity of an entrenched constitutional order. It has allowed Britain to regularly modernise without overthrowing the previous constitution. It was and remains the most modern constitution in the world, for its timelessness. It has never been a hurdle to progress. Yet, it unites generations spanning more than three hundred years. France, on the other hand, has had five since 1789 alone.

It should concern conservatives of all types how much has been changed and worsened in the past twenty-five years since we decided to tinker with this document. It has already seen much of its value and importance removed or diminished. And with further destruction on the way, it’s about time to ask ourselves whether it is worth fighting for. Because without it, although we may continue calling ourselves British and still wave the Union flag and sing God Save the King, or Jerusalem – we will become that bit more detached from our past.

At some point, so much would have changed that we will turn around and find even these things unrecognisable. Conservatives in Britain have conserved nothing.

The next few years presents perhaps a final opportunity for our first victory in a long time.

Jake Welch

Jake is a contributor to the Salisbury Review and a Master's Student at King's College, London. He hosts 'The Boring Twenties' Podcast.

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