I often chuckle to myself when Conservatives in the UK are busy attacking each other because the most often used attack seems to be to say that someone else isn’t a “real” Conservative. This charge usually gets hurled by ideologues at pragmatists and is frequently hurled at the current Prime Minister. I find it a curious form of attack really, in that it suggests that there is a form of Conservatism that is pure, unchanging and fit for all seasons through all the vicissitudes of life. What people who hurl the “real” attack usually and most often mean is that the person on the receiving end is saying or doing something that the attacker doesn’t agree with. I think it is much more honest to say so than to escalate the rhetoric far beyond what is really sustainable.
I have many quibbles with policy emanating from David Cameron, I tend to be honest and say so when I disagree. I don’t think it would make my point any more forceful if I started saying that Cameron wasn’t a “real” Conservative. Clearly he is, he may have different emphasis and priorities than I would but that is life. I really find it irritating that attacks are launched in this way. I am not arrogant or ignorant enough to believe that those policies I would wish to pursue are the only possible interpretation of Conservatism and that anyone who deviates even half a degree from my prospectus isn’t a “real” Conservative. It is possible to find a room full of “real” Conservatives who all disagree to a greater or lesser extent.
So a little plea to my fellow Conservatives. By all means disagree, by all means suggest ideas that you would prefer to see enacted. Please though can we stop with this idea of the “real” Conservative. There are many different colours and fragrances of rose, they are all roses though. In the same way there are many different ways to be a “real” Conservative.