It has long annoyed me that being conservative is only ever painted as negative thing.
How dare someone tell us that money doesn’t grow on trees…
That life is hard and competitive…
That public services don’t come cheap and aren’t really free…
That bad people exist in the world who wish to do us harm…
Britain is not just a country of ideas, ingenuity and imagination but one of great tradition. We are strong and have remained strong because we don’t just blow with the wind. We stubbornly reserve the right to not do as we’re told. We love to moan but we rarely complain. This instinct, in its essence, is a love of rules and order. Britain is the home of the notion of fair play and while all of us might question the fairness of the system, the sense that the rules of the game are rigged in our land, we should try looking around at how many other places on the planet are really any better.
Fairness to a conservative means working hard and getting what you deserve. It is conditional; that every citizen should play by the rules, obey the law, work hard and be rewarded with the freedoms and success that their endeavour merits.
When I write these words I feel the bitter bile and hatred they will produce for some when their sentiments are countenanced. There is a deep prejudice amongst many in this nation for those who are rich and successful. Luck, privilege and ruthlessness have no doubt paved the way for some who make it ‘to the top’. Yet there is a much larger group of people for whom other more admirable things have played the major part.
Decades of effort, learning and failing are what it takes for anyone who wants to significantly improve the material conditions of their existence. Unless you inherit wealth and title or you win the lottery, then extraordinary amounts of hard work, learning and imagination are what it’s going to take to improve your circumstances. It would be nice to be told that it wasn’t your fault, that things beyond your control have stopped you from doing what you needed to, and for some this is obviously true in a lot of different ways. But most of us don’t have an excuse. We haven’t risked our own money and tried to start a business. We don’t work eighty or ninety hour weeks. We didn’t bust our balls in school to be qualified as a lawyer, doctor, architect or engineer.
And the people that did pay the vast amount of all the tax collected in this country.
They lead, own and govern many of the organisations and institutions that make our country what it is.
At the other end of the scale, there are many people who are struggling. People who work hard day after day trying to make ends meet, save for the future and provide a better life for their children than they had. They live in places that wouldn’t be described as wealthy or privileged. And what they see first hand is that there are some people whose lives are no harder than their own who don’t struggle to make their lives better. People who always have an angle. People who live on excuses. And it annoys these hard workers when the soft touch of government rewards the lazy and punishes the folk who do the right thing.
People who may have little but work hard know that nothing worth having comes easy. They expect to have to be strong and they reject the indignity of patronising rich people offering them the kind of support that steals sanctimony from the dignity of providing for a family with your own two hands.
To be right wing and admit so is a brave thing. Far braver in many ways than only ever talking in terms of what others want to hear. Love, kindness and unity are beautiful ideals; delicate dreams that make our lives worth living. Yet underneath these dreams are the hard ground on which they must be built, and the harshness of reality is what they must be built on.