“Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?”, “I have behind me… the splendid traditions and the annals of more than a thousand years”, “The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages.”
These are all quotes from Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on the 2nd June 1953; however, they somehow odd or lost. This is perhaps indicative of how Britain is becoming separated from its cultural heritage and has quickly become a completely different country. On the day of Winston Churchill’s funeral people across London wore black, closed their blinds and had a day of mourning regardless of whether they agreed with him. However, on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s people deliberately insulted her and welcomed her death. Again this shows just how different Britain has become. Interestingly, however, the Conservative party has become a part of this which is arguably ironic given the name. But the truth is, the Conservative party have not just reversed change but accelerated it.
The Thatcherite revolution was perhaps one of the most iconic political movements in British 20th century history. Thatcher introduced an individualist societal policy which undermined many of Britain’s traditional links of social unity and united patriotism. “There is no such thing as society” has become a quote almost as well known as the lady heself, despite it being something a British person would have likely found contemptible only 30 years earlier.
Thatcher, in creating a free-market Tory party, has also seen many of Britain’s traditional institutions be removed and changed; British Rail was dismantled and Royal Mail is gradually being privatised. This is not to say all privatisation was a terrible thing but it drastically changed the way in which society operated.
The Tory party has willingly allowed the new education agenda instituted under Labour governments mostly which teaches us pitifully little about our past and cultural heritage. How many of us could tell another person about the constitutional ramifications of the 1689 Bill of Rights which is a major foundation of our state? How about Habeas Corpus or Magna Carta, which were cornerstones of our constitution for nearly 1000 years? Any famous British poets or literary figures other than Shakespeare, maybe Burns or J.K Rowling? I suspect not many of us and even David Cameron admitted in an interview he does not know what Magna Carta actually does. We feel utterly separated from our past. A Conservative position would be to bring this back into our education and reconnect us to our past but the party has done little – even nothing – to do so.
Most non-conservatively though, the party has allowed Britain and is led by someone who actually endorses strongly, membership of the European Union. This is a body which has removed the supremacy of our parliament and gives non-British people the ability to change our policy, leads to mass immigration and seeks to gain “ever closer union” and build towards a state. It makes no sense from a Conservative position to be part of a union actually seeking to supersede your state. How can one be Conservative but also pro-EU?
No one would say Britain is as patriotic as it used to be or is the same country it used to be. We occasionally have a bash of “Land of Hope and Glory” at the Proms and the Jubilee celebrations but at the Durham Union Society they voted against being proud of being British and this is at a traditionally right-wing university. Whether you agree or not with the changes this country has seen (I certainly agree with some) the Conservative party is inaptly named as it has been party to this change as is a fundamentally un-conservative institution.