From a UK Conservative, Advice for the U.S.

MP Douglas Carswell co-authored The Plan: Twelve Months to Save Britain with MEP Dan Hannan in a bid to influence the direction of a future Conservative government in the UK.


The two of them have been up to quite a lot of late.

Dan Hannan has become a bit of personality on the right in the U.S., especially on Fox News. Carswell managed to fell a speaker of the House of Commons over the speaker’s handling of the MP expenses scandal, a feat that has not been accomplished in 300 years. Also, Conservative leader David Cameron and his team appear to be pinching ideas from The Plan. So its been quite a year for the duo.

Like Hannan, and unlike many of his fellow parliamentarians, Carswell blogs (Talk Carswell) when he gets a break in his schedule. Considering many on the more “Whiggish” right seem to think Carswell talks a great deal of sense, I thought he might offer some words of wisdom to those suffering on the American right:

AD: What you managed to achieve re: Speaker Martin is historic. Do you have any advice for Republicans wishing to rid themselves of the troublesome Speaker Pelosi in the House of Representatives?

DC: Unseating the speaker of the House of Commons for the first time in over 300 years was not something I set out to do when I was elected to Parliament. In fact, I want to be able to respect our democratic institutions and traditions.

But when I discovered how self-serving, supine, and useless our legislature in Britain has now become, I felt I had no choice but to act — and alas, our former speaker was standing in the way of change.

We need radical change to put purpose back into Parliament — and to restore people’s battered faith in our broken democracy. We’re still a long, long way from the radical changes we need. But removing the speaker shows that things don’t have to be the way they are. It is the start in what will be a long struggle.

My criticisms of Michael Martin were never personal. I try my hardest in this politics business never to make personal criticisms. I’m not sure if the issues that some Republicans have with Speaker Pelosi fit into the same category as the issues I had with Speaker Martin. But my advice would be this: don’t attack Speaker Pelosi personally. If you have any criticisms of how your speaker does their job in terms of holding the executive to account, say so. Say it respectfully. And blog it — so that the people can decide for themselves if your points are valid.

AD: What advice would you give the right in the U.S. on how to deal with the socialist administration of Obama?

DC: First remember this — the United States of America is the most successful, prosperous, happy land on Earth not by accident, but because of your Jeffersonian heritage. So stay true to the ideals of the young Republic: limited government, states’ rights, and individual liberty.


Second, find new ways to articulate these old truths. The internet and the democratization of opinion make the expression of these ideals possible in new and exciting ways. So use the internet to make your point — politely and respectfully — as my friend Daniel Hannan did so successfully on YouTube against Gordon Brown.

Third, remain self-aware. Ask yourself each day why it was that the Republicans lost the way they did. What is it about you that explains why folks voted for the other guy? Perhaps it was big government Republicanism, more than Mr. Obama, which explains why you’ve ended up with big government Democrats running the show?

AD: Would you recommend that the Republican Party in the U.S. follow the Tories or adopt something different?

DC: I think conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have a job to do in redefining themselves.

The 1980s conservative agenda right across the Anglosphere could be defined as decentralizing control of the economy — supply-side deregulation, privatization, etc.

The new agenda for conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic must be to decentralize control over politics and public services.

Republicans in the U.S. and British Conservatives have tended to think in terms of gaining control of the machinery of the state in order to achieve conservative ends. It can’t be done. There is a reason that all those federal agencies in the U.S. — or Whitehall quangos, we call them — end up doing left-wing things. It is in the nature of big bureaucracy to impose leftist solutions.

Direct democracy and open source politics are the tools that we must adopt in order to recalibrate the architecture of government. This new radicalism is vital if we are to free our societies from the slow, triumphal march of the left through our institutions and public life.

AD: As the author of the Amazon hit The Plan with internet star of the right Dan Hannan, do you feel that the right in the UK is “going your way?”

DC: I’m delighted that so many of the ideas we set out with in The Plan have now been taken up by David Cameron and the Conservatives. Our proposals for open primaries and open source politics are now party policy. Ditto the proposals we made on radical localism, constitutional, and political reform. Indeed, David’s Milton/Keynes speech borrowed heavily from the book — both in ideas and in terms of text.

But the book hasn’t just influenced the Conservatives in Westminster. As a print-on-demand publication, the book has managed to reach an extraordinarily wide audience and a year on continues to sell thousands.

AD: Do you think the “move to the right” EU-wide is a reason for optimism?

DC: What “move to the right’’ within the EU? I’ve not noticed.

Many right-wing parties in Europe are simply not free market when it comes to the economy or trade. Alas, too many center-right parties in Europe remain authoritarian and wedded to the idea of state intervention.

I see very little cause for optimism when I look at the EU. The centralist, top-down structures remain firmly rooted in place. While China and India decentralize and prosper, western Europe continues to bury herself in an avalanche of excessive taxation and regulation.


Many thanks to Douglas for taking time out of his holiday to share his views with us.



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