Saturday, 19 August 2006

Replacing the two main parties

The two main parties are doomed. We are living in their final generation. Most of their members have died, or quit, or simply stopped turning up to anything. Those who remain involved are overwhelmingly over 50, largely over 60, and not uncommonly over 70. Labour and the Conservatives will certainly be gone 20 years hence, probably 15, and possibly 10.

So who will contest elections, in place of the old parties? Parties, I hope and predict, that recognise the obvious, currently denied publicly, but not privately, by the political class.

Far from being conservative, the “free” market corrodes to nought everything that conservatives seek to conserve. Socialism, as the British Labour tradition defines it, does conserve those things against capitalism. There cannot be the decadent social libertinism of the 1960s without the decadent economic libertinism of the 1980s, or vice versa. There cannot be an unrestricted market in goods, services and capital but not in labour, i.e., people, including migrants; or vice versa. There cannot be a “free” market in goods and services generally, but not in alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling and prostitution.

These things are obvious, as the new parties will admit. Already, Polly Toynbee admits that unrestricted immigration is bad for the poor, while Melanie Phillips admits that privatisation has been disastrous for the utilities. Common sense is breaking out all over. Neil Clark and Peter Hitchens will yet have their day (except on capital punishment, I trust).

One new party will be conservative precisely by being Socialist, and Socialist precisely in order to be conservative. It will seek to limit immigration in order to limit foreign goods, services and capital; and vice versa. The other will support a socio-economic free-for-all, though without any freedom for great swathes of the population.

I know which one I’ll be in. How about you?

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