Education, General election, Politics, Uncategorized, Young people

Easy Politics ~ Conservatism

Hey guys! Welcome to the second installment of my new series, “Easy Politics”. As you can tell from the title, this one is all about Conservatism as an ideology. I hope you enjoy, and learn something new. And don’t forget to check out my post on Liberalism if you haven’t already!

What is Conservatism?

The core values of Conservatism are the following:

  • Tradition and preservation (Tradition reflects the accumulated wisdom of the past, also creates social cohesion and a feeling of rootedness by linking people to the past and providing them with a sense of identity. Change is uncertain and to be feared, whereas established customs are familiar and reassuring).
  • Human nature (Conservatives have a negative view of human nature; they believe we are psychologically limited and dependent creatures and we should sacrifice liberty to ensure social order; our only incentive to abide by the law is to have strict laws in place).
  • Order (without order, we would have an unpleasantly short life. Control is crucial and there is a necessity for order to maintain institutions. We wouldn’t have hierarchy and structure of government without order – there would be revolution otherwise).
  • Hierarchy (society is naturally hierarchical, characterised by fixed social classes. Social equality is undesirable and unachievable – talent and leadership qualities are unequally distributed and cannot be acquired through self-advancement).
  • Pragmatism aka practicality (any change should be sensible and gradual.)
  • Individualism (Clear distinction between private and public spheres. Best environment for individualism is state of control – a nomocratic (ruled by law) society. Humans are security-seeking creatures. Individual cannot be separated from society, but is part of the social groups that nurture him or her – negative freedom results in the individual suffering from anomie (weakening of values and normative rules – associated with feelings of isolation)
  • Property (Provides security – ownership gives people a sense of confidence and assurance. Those who possess property are also more likely to respect other peoples’ property, thus maintaining law and order. They also believe that property can be an extension of an individual’s personality. Why burglary is so frowned upon – individuals feel personally violated – home is personal and intimate).

Conservatives tend to want less state interference – low taxes etc. They like the status quo to be maintained rather than any radical change. They usually want to maintain tradition and institutions like the monarchy; they look to the past as a guide. They want the individual to flourish in terms of pursuing goals and achieving fulfillment (much like classic liberals). Conservatives also want good social order and security even if that is at the expense of freedom, rights and equality.

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When did Conservatism originate?

Conservatism began more as a response to other ideologies than as an ideology itself. Before the late 1700s, and the Enlightenment period, there weren’t really any true ideological movements for Conservatism to react against, thus this could be considered the dawn of Conservatism. People were challenging long-held beliefs affecting religion, ethics, politics, the physical sciences, mathematics, the arts and architecture. In the 19th and early 20th century,  Conservatism was associated with class interest aka as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace and the economics power of the new capitalist middle glasses grew, the “landed classes” (those whose wealth was inherited) found themselves threatened and wanted to ‘conserve’ the interests of their class.

Does being a conservative mean you have to support the Conservative party?

No. For a traditional Conservative, the Conservative Party’s values may seem too left wing (welfare state etc) and for One-Nation Conservatives, their left wing policies may not go far enough. Similarly, nationalists may agree with the Conservative Party’s policies on leaving the EU etc (follow my blog so you can read my post on Nationalism and find out if you are a nationalist!), and some classic Liberals may vote Conservative for their want for less control over the individual and lower taxes.

Are there different types of Conservatism?

Yes.  The main types are Traditional, Liberal New Right (Neoliberalism), Conservative New Right (Neoconservatism) and One Nation Conservatism. Here are some of their core beliefs and values.

Traditional Conservatism:

– Change is natural and inevitable (the French revolution being an example) and should not be resisted: “change in order to conserve”

– Change should be cautious, modest and pragmatic, drawn from a suspicion of fixed principles whether revolutionary or reactionary.

– Pragmatic conservatives support neither the state nor individual, but are prepared to support either, or both…depending on ‘what works’.

– There should be tough laws in place to discourage criminal behaviour

– They believe in an organic society – people cannot exist outside of society; they need to be nurtured and protected.

– Institutions such as the monarchy, the House of Lords and the Church should be protected (strong respect for tradition)

– Individuals should be left to make their own mistakes – they are anti welfare state for fear that it would weaken people’s values

Liberal New Right Conservatism/Neoliberalism:

– Radical change is better than gradual reform

– Stand for independence of mind and thought free from obligation to any authority

– Tax = legalised theft

– The fact that something exists and has done for a long time is no ground for respecting/keeping it (disrespect for institutions and tradition)

– Free market economics because government intervention causes economic problems

– Universal human rights (commitment to individual liberty and freedom)

– Anti welfare state (cut public spending) because it leads to a culture of dependency

– Privatisation increases quality.  Nationalised industries are inefficient

– Support a liberal view of property

New Right Conservatism/Neoconservatism:

– Increase social discipline, authority and leadership

– Anti globalisation and anti immigration

– Belief in a natural hierarchy in society

– Belief in the patriarchy and traditional family values (the man is the leader of the household)

– Let people have freedom of action – anti welfare

– Classic liberal economics + traditional social theory (defence of order, authority and discipline)

– New Right attempts to fuse economic libertarianism with state and social authoritarianism.

One Nation Conservatism:

– We need to reform or there will be revolution: revolution ensures stability. The purpose of one-nationism is simply to consolidate hierarchy, and its wish to improve the conditions of the less well-off is limited to the desire to ensure that the poor no longer pose a threat to the established order

– Progress must be pragmatic, careful, respectful of past practices

Feudal principle: the rich have a duty of care to the poor; on Nation Conservatives are pro welfare because of the organic conservative belief that society is held together by an acceptance of duty and obligations. Society is naturally hierarchical, but also inequalities of wealth and social privilege give rise to an inequality of responsibilities. Wealthy and powerful people must shoulder the burden of social responsibility – this is the price of privilege.

Keynsian economics: we need full employment and enlarged welfare provision

– One Nation Conservatism is a middle way between classic Liberalism and socialism; “planned capitalism” – a mixed system which combines state ownership, regulation of certain aspects of economic activity with the drive and initiative of private enterprise.

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Politics, Teenagers, Young people

Political Promises ~ A Guide to the 2017 Manifestos

Although the official Conservative manifesto isn’t due to be released until the 8th May, and the Labour manifesto on the 15th May, the main parties have all made announcements concerning their election promises. These might help you decide who to vote for, so here they are:

Labour

Labour seems to be focusing most of their manifesto promises on the NHS – reportedly the most important election issue for 63% of voters.

Conservatives

Out of all the main parties, the Conservatives have been the most secretive about the contents of their manifesto. However, they have made a few announcements on the subject. They have promised:

Others have speculated that the following will also be included in the manifesto:

  • Scrapping the HS2 high speed rail link project
  • Some kind of “long term solution” to the social care crisis (though Theresa May hasn’t specified what exactly this solution is)
  • Protecting the current police budget
  • Aims to increase the number of grammar schools

The Conservatives seem pretty confident that they will achieve a majority in this election, which 1/3 of the country agree with (hence why Theresa May called it in the first place); so I believe they are relying mostly on what they have done over their last few years in power to land them a victory. We will know more once their manifesto is released. (Also, I am going to write a blog post tracking the parties’ popularity in the opinion poles, so follow my blog if you want to be notified when that’s up.)

Liberal Democrats 

  • A second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal

Other possible inclusions in the manifesto:

  • A hypothecated tax (dedication of the revenue from a specific tax for a particular expenditure purpose) to pay for the NHS and social care
  • An increase in the threshold at which students pay back tuition fee loans (good news for those of you at uni)
  • Tim Farron (leader of the Lib Dems) has also ruled out a coalition deal with both the Conservatives and Labour

The Green Party 

  • A ‘ratification referendum’ on the terms of the Brexit deal – with an option to remain in the EU
  • Scrapping tuition fees and bringing back maintenance grants
  • Continuing the Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit
  • Pledging to maintain equivalent funding for Universities losing cash from the EU

It is clear from this that the Green Party is focusing a lot on education, but not so much on the issues of the NHS, immigration etc.

UKIP

  • A ban on full face coverings
  • An explicit ban on the practice of Sharia Law
  • Abolition of postal voting for most electors
  • Making a difference in race an aggravating factor in grooming offences
  • A moratorium (temporary ban) on new Islamic faith schools
  • Mandatory reporting of Female Genital Mutilation
  • Mandatory annual medical checks for girls “at risk” of Female Genital Mutilation
  • ‘Presumption of prosecution’ of any parent whose daughter has suffered FGM, which is already the law
  • A £10 billion a year cut in the foreign aid budget

Of course, do your own research before the election in June. I recommend the website http://uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz to help you decide who to vote for.  I hope this helped or just was interesting!

Register to vote here by the 22nd May: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Remember, young people’s votes count so much! The political parties implement policies that will draw in the most voters, so if young people don’t vote… Parties won’t create laws which are in our best interests. The general election is on the 8th June 2017.