Conservatism, Democracy and National Identity (The Third Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture)

Conservatism flourishes when existing institutions and beliefs are under threat, either from within or without.

Today, it appears that no such threats exist. The Cold War has ended and social democratic parties in the First World War now embrace the market economy. It is perhaps no surprise that a malaise afflicts the Right across the English-speaking world and Europe.

But is there a latent challenge that might spark a revival of Conservatism? John O’Sullivan argues that the gradual undermining of democracy will pose the next great threat – and thus the new battle-ground for Conservatives.

For power is leeching from legislatures to bureaucratic agencies and the courts, and from national governments supranational bodies. And a powerful new ideology is being created that undermines the very tenets and institutions of liberal democracy: multiculturalism.

So Conservatives should defend democracy with passion. They should:

  • judge all proposals for constitutiional reform by asking whether they strengthen or weaken the House of Commons;
  • resist the further transfer of powers to undemocratic European institutions;
  • mount a clear, vigorous and principled opposition to the anti-democratic ideas that lie at the heart of multiculturalism.

John O'Sullivan - Sunday, 7th March, 1999