David Cameron’s DNA – family, community and country
These, he said, were the things he cares about.
And so David Cameron expounded his mildly-theological mission statement – ‘Modern Conservatives, New Britain'. And this would be a Britain which would not only roll back the frontiers of the state, but would do so in an environmentally friendly manner. He touched on all the traditional great Tory themes – family, society, institutions and nationhood – and he vowed to restore common sense, respect, decency and fair play to a society which has been bereft of such virtues for more than a decade. He refreshingly spoke more of responsibility than rights, more of community than the individual, more of ‘we’ than ‘I’.
Setting out his vision for Britain, Mr Cameron said: “I see a country where more children grow up with security and love because family life comes first. I see a country where you choose the most important things in life - the school your child goes to and the healthcare you get.
“I see a country where communities govern themselves - organising local services, independent of Whitehall, a great handing back of power to people. I see a country with entrepreneurs everywhere, bringing their ideas to life - and life to our great towns and cities.
“I see a country where it's not just about the quantity of money, but the quality of life; where we lead the world in saving our planet. I see a country where you're not so afraid to walk home alone.
“We are going to solve our problems with a stronger society, stronger families, stronger communities, a stronger country. All by rebuilding responsibility.”
And he pledged to ‘tear down Labour's big government bureaucracy, ripping up its time-wasting, money-draining, responsibility-sapping nonsense.'
It is not quite the Beatitudes, but it was compassionate and conservative in a thoroughly Anglican way: it was uplifting and edifying stuff.
But Cranmer has a ‘but’.
Though it is the most cordial, mildest and politest of ‘buts’.
The social arrangements of (post-)modern Britain no longer acknowledge precedence, respect our institutions or even adhere to a cohesive morality. The disintegration of authority has led to the collapse of justice and resulted in a social fragmentation which demands ‘equality’ for everyone and ‘freedom’ to express anything. Liberalism is pervasive, and this is fundamentally at odds with Conservatism.
The purpose of establishment is to prevent fragmentation and restore cohesion. That is why it is the greatest of political themes and the most important of Conservative aims. Yet how can this be revived unless individuals are prepared to recognise – in this or that individual, in this or that office – a vested authority by which their gospel of relativity may be constrained or redefined? How can one assert a particular view of society and bring it to ideological fulfilment without making people subject to the power of the state whose frontiers one has pledged to roll back?
It is one thing to take people to a mountaintop and share the ecstasy of the vision; but the realising of it is a matter of the utmost political delicacy. Establishment – including that of the Church – is necessary to uphold the authority and sustain the morality by which the political will is achieved.
And David Cameron’s political vision can never be achieved while there is a superior parliament, court, government, president and pervasive secular orthodoxy to which every family, community and the whole country are presently subject.