The Conservatives (or Tories) are a centre-right political party that supports the belief of conservatism and British unionism. Conservatism is a philosophy that promotes traditional and social institutions in the context of a culture or civilization. It differs around the world where their nature favours certain characteristics about their society, each upholding their own traditions. It’s association with right-wing politics has been used to describe a wide range of different views. In the case of the British Tories these include supporting a hierarchical society with a divine ruling monarch. The party itself was founded in 1834 when it was a faction of another party called the Whig Party. The name Tory was already in existence then as a political grouping that had been around since 1678 but were not formally a party. Eventually they broke away from the Whigs and formed their own identity going from a splinter group into a government party around William Pitt the Younger between 1783 and 1830.
The first Conservative prime minister was Robert Peel in 1834. The philosophy of conservatism was founded by a number of people in the 17th century. The founding fathers of conservatism were pragmatists who helped keep the monarchist government in power in the years after the English Civil War and when that failed they created the three estate sovereignty system of power that we know today of Crowns, Lords and Commons. So power is not solely invested in the crown itself. What that means is that the Queen is the head of state but Parliament is the engine house of the government of the people and the creator of the laws of the country with a democratically elected leader and political party to work for the people.
One of the founding fathers of Conservatism was Edmund Burke who had a mixture of liberalism and conservatism. An Irish man who supported the ideas of a Scottish philosopher called Adam Smith who believed in private property being liberal but economics should be subordinate to the conservative social ethic, capitalism should be subordinate to social tradition but the royals should remain the nation’s natural leaders. It’s the basis for free enterprise and economic liberalisation. Which is what the modern Conservative parties support to this day. However like all parties they have had their differences within their members. Some Tories believed in Peel’s idea of free trade and commerce whilst some sided with the Earl of Derby who favoured protectionism. The majority of them sided with Derby and a third of them split away to join the Whigs to form the Liberal Party.
However despite this split the Tories decided to support free trade after all in 1852. In 1886 the Conservatives formed an alliance, but not a coalition, with the newly formed Liberal Unionist Party. This was a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party led by Joseph Chamberlain and Lord Hartington. Later in 1912 they merged together to form the full name of the party for which it is known: The Conservative and Unionist Party. Now the Tory party that anyone alive will remember will be familiar with their policies that we know them for today. So let’s get on with the modern party. Here’s what the modern Conservative Party has done for Britain since 1945:
- Brought rationing to an end in 1953 and saw a new young queen crowned. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister again and the post war consensus began. Industries were churning out enough productivity to bring the post war austerity to an end. Harold MacMillan was quoted as saying ‘Britain has never had it so good’. They oversee a period of economic prosperity and continued the welfare state set up by Labour.
- We were taken into the European Economic Community, forerunner of the European Union at a time of world unity, commerce and peace between European nations in the Cold War. However as the EEC grew it became an over bloated bureaucratic body that started to dictate our laws on trade, commerce, legal powers and use of tools. Something the current Tories are trying to fix.
- The Thatcher government came into cure Britain at a time when it was ‘The Sick Man of Europe’ with wildcat strikes from unionists amidst the Winter of Discontent in 1978-79. She smashed the socialist state and focused on the philosophy of the party at the very of conservatism. This government created the modern Britain that we still flourish under today. Economic liberalism, unregulated banking, unshackled business, slashing of taxes, selling off state owned industries to the private sector, making us a nation of budding capitalists, starving the unions, liberation of the stock market, freeing the financial sector, taxation on North Sea oil, fighting off Argentina over the Falklands Islands. She was the Iron Lady.
- John Major’s government also showed great strength in fighting off an economic recession. Like Thatcher he was also a commoner, from South London and ran the country on 3 O-Levels. He was a very common touch kind of leader. However the party was also mired in sleaze and the Pound suffered on the European Exchange Mechanism.
- The Tories found themselves as ‘economic cleaners’ for a Labour mess when David Cameron came to power. The Tories ruled in a coalition government with the Lib Dems in 2010 and brought in an emergency budget to clean up the mess brought on by the Great Recession of 2008-9 from Labour where they tried their own hands at being a capitalist party. But they found a Britain that they inherited with debt and some unhealthy choices for Britain to cut the deficit and reform welfare.
So what we have here is a party that believes in free trade, capitalism, low taxation, free enterprise, welfare with sponsorship from privatisation, sensible public spending policies, protection of the state and traditions, international alliances, discipline and hard work in education. Now from time to time the Tories have often been seen as a bad boy party who support and favour millionaires and toffs. Well that’s not strictly true, especially with two party leaders from the working classes they support the lower classes as long they are willing to support free enterprise. Some working class Tory voters, such as myself, see themselves as free citizens of a country. With a free market and unregulated banking we can free ourselves from the shackles of socialism. We are free to make money as we please and we can go out and really make something of ourselves.