Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The nature of politics and of human affairs

I am sorry that Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada lost the General Election last week. Harper is my kind of Conservative; economically sound but with a soft almost libertarian social policy and a genuine pro-active approach to big-tent conservatism, especially the importance of ensuring the Conservative Party was open and welcoming to migrant communities. On this front we still have a long way to go. 

Whilst it is sad to see political soul mates lose office, change is inevitable in a democratic system. Harper's defeat, however, should act as a warning to all British Conservatives who think that under Corbyn victory in 2020 is 'in the bag'. 

In Canada, as in many other places, the mantra 'time for change' took hold. Unless there is new leadership or a dramatic change of policy, around ten years appears to be the lifespan of most modern democratic governments.
  • John Howard (Australia) 1996 - 2007
  • Stephen Harper (Canada) 2006 - 2015
  • Tony Blair (UK) 1997 - 2007
  • Margaret Thatcher (UK) 1979 - 1990
  • Helen Clark (NZ) 1999-2008

Governments and leaders can of course enjoy longer (and shorter) periods of office, but I suspect after 10 years people simply get bored with the same face and the same voice, and the invasive "time for change" takes hold, which combined with the collective plotting of a decade's worth of enemies, makes defeat almost inevitable. Enoch Powell's words are probably as true today as when he spoke them in 1977. 

"All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs"

For this reason alone I think David Cameron's decision not to seek a third term was probably right, both for him personally and for the party. 

No election result, however decisive, can guarantee the next and no victory lasts forever. We have to keep renewing, keep redefining and keep changing to ensure our message is fresh and relevant. 

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