15 February 2023
As I sit at Scruton’s Café in Budapest, reading the latest issue of the Hungarian Conservative, I wonder: wouldPeter Dutton rather be seen dead, or be seen in the capital of Hungary? The northern winter is tough for a Queenslander, a point I more than sympathise with. But my guess is the Liberal leader couldn’t face seeing what a successful conservative government looks like, something he would get a close look at if he came to Budapest.
The Liberal Party proudly disowns the conservative label. Recent leaders, be they Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison, or Peter Dutton, have balked at any mention of the ‘c-word’. They present as Labor-lite, just with less red in their logo. This has always been a winsome approach with the Australian voter, of course. As the journalists at Their ABC remind us regularly, elections are typically won and lost on positive climate change action, gender-bending, and promises to expand the federal public service.
Except we all know they are not. The last time the Liberals won an election with a serious majority was in 2013 when Tony Abbott campaigned to trash the carbon tax, stop the boats, reduce public spending, and scrap speech-limiting laws that were driven by political correctness. That’s a program a conservative could get behind, at least as a starting point.
Indeed, Tony Abbott has publicly come out in support of the policies of the Fidesz government in Hungary. The Hungary Today news outlet reported back in December that Abbott admires the Hungarian Prime Minister’s pursuit of actual conservative policies. Imagine that! Imagine a right-wing government with a solid majority implementing policies that are truly aligned with a conservative vision for society. According to Abbott, Orbán ‘stood against political correctness’ and has ‘pursued policies which a lot of other conservatives were too afraid to try’.
The Orbán government is offering something quite distinctive, and something concretely conservative in terms of policy and vision. However, if you were inclined to believe our enlightened mainstream media, Orbán is the leading edge of a move toward totalitarian fascism.
The accusation is ridiculous, of course. But the possibility of radicalism on the right is not unjustified. As one American expat told me over coffee the other day, conservatives in the Anglophone world need to offer a real alternative to the progressive left, or else something like real fascism will emerge.
Fascism and totalitarianism are labels that progressives slap on anyone on the right who wins elections and implements conservative policies. And Viktor Orbán is a regular target for fascism-related slurs. His party has won four consecutive national elections. This is a sure sign of gerrymandering and election-rigging. No one, I repeat, no one does this without being a totalitarian and a cheat, according to the mainstream progressive media.
There is a problem with this analysis, of course. Consider the British Tories. They have been in government since 2010, and have formed government at four consecutive elections. And yet, for some reason, they are not tarred as fascist or totalitarian. Why could that be? It is, of course, because they aren’t particularly conservative. They swim with the progressive tide and are, as Peter Hitchens regularly reminds us, Blairites in Tory drag.
The totalitarian and fascist slurs don’t hold up when it comes to election outcomes. Fidesz, as far as election watchers would have it, has won free and fair each time, and with legitimately large majorities. Budapest tends to go to the opposition parties, but the rest of Hungary has turned orange at elections since 2010. Fidesz won convincingly again in 2022, and this despite the millions of dollars of (possibly illegal) funding funneled to the opposition by American globalist activists.
The real reason Fidesz and Orbán get called nasty names is that they are governing from conservative principles. A British friend based in Budapest put it well when he said that the Fidesz government is ‘getting on with it’. It is not pandering to the sensitivities of Brussels bureaucrats, nor the political correctness of the Twitterati. It does not subject itself to internationalists, cosmopolitans, and globalists. It is not taking the knee on race, nor kissing the ring of the Sexual Alphabet Overlords.
The noted conservative columnist, Rod Dreher, who has recently relocated to Hungary, summarised this in his own words in an article in the Hungarian Conservative: Hungary’s leadership ‘really does protect borders’ and ‘does not bow and scrape before international finance, [and] big business’. Most crucially, Dreher notes that Hungary ‘is a country where conservatives in power are unafraid to use that power to press for their convictions’. This is the point that most enrages the progressives and globalists.
I have regularly seen British conservatives on social media bemoaning the onward march of progressive dogmas in British society, and this despite the Tories being in power for over a decade. The same could be said for Australia. The Coalition was in office for nine years, and yet did nothing to stop the destruction of free public discourse, as well as overseeing the slow death of religious freedom, the final legal destruction of the natural family, and the expansion of radical social policies.
What, I ask, is the point of a right-wing government that merely panders to the Twitterati and the journalists of Nine Newspapers and the ABC? In what sense is it right-wing? In no sense whatever. And it isn’t conservative. A real conservative government not only slows and prevents imprudent change. In a society like Australia where the left control the institutions, it also makes the case for conservative policies, and then implements them.
This brings us back to Peter Dutton, the leader of a supposedly right-wing opposition. He and his coalition are impotent. Until the Liberal Party finds an Orbán-like leader that can take the conservative bull by the horns, the Peter Duttons of this world will lead the party into irrelevance and perhaps oblivion.
Simon Kennedy is a Visiting Fellow at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Budapest.