JOHN DERBYSHIRE: In The U.S. And U.K.—Don’t Vote For Institutional Conservatism!
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[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

See, also, by Steve Sailer:  Tories Smash Labour In Blue Collar By-election

I haven't lived in England for thirty years now, and have been a U.S. citizen for nearly twenty, so I don't have much interest in politics over there. I do browse some posts by British commentators, though, as part of my morning trawl through the internet looking for items of interest, and now and then something catches my eye—something I think is pertinent to our own politics here in the U.S.A.

This one didn't just catch my eye; it had me jumping to my feet, fist-pumping to a degree that endangered the ceiling light fixture, and emitting Rebel Yells.

The writer was James Delingpole. I thought I remembered that name as belonging to the ballet critic at the London Spectator circa 1980. Looking James Delingpole up, though, I see he was born in 1965, so that seems improbable. He's married with three children, too, so … ballet critic? Eh, whatever, probably a false memory.

Mr. Delingpole certainly got my attention with Delingpole: Why I’m Not Voting Conservative on Thursday—Or, Indeed, Ever Again…, Breitbart, May 5  2021.

You need just a little background here.

Britain has two big political parties: the Conservative Party, a.k.a. the Tories, and the Labour Party. The Tories currently control Parliament under Party Leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. There are also some minor parties represented in Parliament, the most troublesome one currently being the Scottish Nationalists.

The Conservative Party naturally advertises itself as the more conservative of the two big parties, standing against radical change. The Labour Party was historically the party of, duh, Labour: of horny-handed sons of toil—coal miners, steel workers, ship-builders, and working-class folk in general. A lot of big names in the old Labour Party—for example Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary in the post-WW2 Labour government—came up through the ranks of the union movement.

Like our own Democratic Party, though, Britain's Labour Party has in recent decades been taken over by gentry liberals. To the degree that unions still play a role, they are the fake "unions" of the public sector, lobbying not for a bigger share of the profits of capitalism, but for a bigger share of the public fisc.

A typical Labour member of parliament seventy years ago had started his working life as a coal miner; the typical one today drew his first paycheck as a lecturer in sociology at some minor college.

Well, Thursday this week there were elections over there. These mostly weren't parliamentary elections. There was a national general election two years ago, and the next one isn't due for another three years. Thursday's elections were for regional and municipal positions—mayors, town councillors and such. You could think of it very approximately as like our mid-terms, although more heated than usual because last year's elections were postponed on account of covid.

There was one parliamentary seat up for grabs Thursday: Hartlepool, a grimy seaport in the far northeast of England. (It’s the fictional hometown of one of Britain’s most famous cartoon characters, the flat-capped, working-class loafer Andy Capp).

Hartlepool is old-school Labour, hasn't had a Tory M.P. for sixty years.

The Labour M.P. resigned in March under a cloud of allegations of sexual harassment, so this was a special election to replace him.

What about this James Delingpole piece that I liked so much?

Its thrust, and what will return an echo from the bosoms of American conservatives, is the pathetic uselessness of institutional Conservatism.

In Britain, institutional Conservatism means of course the Conservative Party, who have held power over there for the past eleven years.

You have to qualify that, and Delingpole does, by noting that for the first five of those years the Tories were in coalition with a junior partner, the Liberal Democrats, a sort of concentrated essence of gentry liberalism, so they were under some restraint. For the last six years, though the Tories have ruled supreme.

Delingpole's beef is that those eleven years were, from a conservative point of view, an utter waste of time. The three big-"C" Conservative Prime Ministers accomplished nothing of a small-"c" conservative nature.

The only small-"c" conservative advance in those years was Brexit. That was by referendum, though, and against the inclinations of big-"C" Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned when the referendum result came out.

The signature achievement of Cameron's Prime Ministership was the legalization of homosexual marriage.

Brexit aside, Delingpole gives a wish-list of seven things that a small-"c" conservative person, eleven years ago, might have hoped for from a big-"C" Conservative government. Here's his list. I've abbreviated the entries, with just a couple of short direct quotes.

  1. Control immigration.
  2. Restore education. For example: "History should be a celebration of great men (and women), a catalogue of battles and key events, and inspiration for future heroes—not a breast-beating whinge about the slave trade."  
  3. Quote: "Stop sucking up to Big Business, Woke Corporations, and suchlike because they are scum, they have no loyalty to Britain."  
  4. Maintain a strong Armed Forces—for protection, national pride, tradition—but don't use them on foreign wars of intervention which cause far more harm than good.
  5. Win the culture wars. Utterly destroy Wokism wherever it rears its hideous head.
  6. Stop with the "Green Crap." Remove the wind farms; frack for shale gas. Go for energy which is abundant and cheap.
  7. Law and order.

Sound good?

Eleven years of Conservative Party government have, says Delingpole, delivered nothing, zip, zilch, nada, nichts, rien, ничего, nothing on any of those items. The solution? Stop voting for institutional conservatism.

In the U.S.A., institutional conservatism means the Republican Party. The GOP has controlled both houses of Congress for twelve of the past twenty-six years; for six of those twelve it had the White House, too.

Those twelve years have, like Britain's eleven, delivered nothing to conservatives. The last time our Republican Party had trifecta control—Congress and the White House—its signature accomplishment was a minor tax cut.

The solution here is the same one James Delingpole recommends to his countrymen: stop voting for institutional conservatism. I shall follow his advice.

I'm sorry to say the Brits have did not follow it on Thursday. This week's elections over there were a triumph for institutional conservatism and for the perfectly useless big-"C" Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson [Labour has lost trust of working people, says Starmer, BBC, May 6, 2021].

The Conservatives, like the GOP/GAP, is benefitting from seismic social shifts, particularly the working class’s rebellion against the Woke Left. But neither party deserves it.

So in Britain, the downward spiral continues. I don't care. Let's just try to stop it happening here.

Don't vote for institutional conservatism!


John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire's writings at can do so here.

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