This government’s recent decision to defy international law is very un-conservative, and very un-British. But this government, despite having used the Conservative Party as a platform to power, is not a conservative government.
The Conservative tradition in British politics is an old one, going back at least as far as Edmund Burke with his polemics against the French revolution.
It has always favoured tradition and continuity over change, especially sudden or radical change which threatens chaos and uncertainty.
The argument goes that this is the best recipe for stability, national unity and hence prosperity.
Progressives would challenge some of these assumptions but are forced to concede that they do represent an outlook that attracts wide support in the population.
Above all, the Conservative Party has always prided itself on its pragmatism; dogma and especially zealous dogma has always remained on the fringes.
By its nature it has not launched bold initiatives for social progress but equally, has refrained from undoing such measures when introduced by other parties, so the NHS, the social safety net, legal aid, the minimum wage etc have survived tory governments, until now.
The current government is one of radical change, not of conservatism. It sees tradition and the status quo as problems to be overcome.
It is waging war on our public institutions – the professional, apolitical civil service, the judiciary, the BBC – anything that stands in their way. But why? What are their objectives?
The failure of the neoliberal `reforms’ (small state, unregulated markets, financialized economy) would make most pragmatists stand back and re-think.
But zealots do not question their assumptions, they double down and go for broke. The Conservative party has, over recent decades, been commandeered by the zealots and the pragmatists have been marginalized.
It is now time for all Conservatives to ask themselves, is this what we voted for?