West then observed that liberals he knows seem to be conceding the point that mass immigration is not good for social cohesion. They are now basing their arguments for mass immigration on supposed economic benefits.
Did this rare victory make West feel glad? No, it unsettled him:
I’m conscious of the fact that the argument has shifted in the past 12-24 months, which as a conservative makes me uncomfortable because I prefer to be losing so I can complain about things
Now, I admire Ed West for being a journalist who has resisted the liberal mainstream. But this comment of his confirmed something I have long felt, namely that there are problems within the culture of conservatism that need to be overcome.
Liberals reject much of human nature, but one thing they do hold onto is the creative instinct (not an artistic instinct but a creative one) in which they wish to shape the society around them. This attracts people who are focused on trying to make things happen, rather than being the passively superior critic.
We should aim to try and take at least some of this ground from liberals - to at least contest it.
Ed West has announced that he will no longer write his Telegraph column. In his last piece he continued to promote the idea of conservatism as essentially a negative politics:
Of course we’re pessimists, we’re conservatives – that’s the whole point. Some see a glass half-full, some see a glass half-empty, we see the downfall of Western civilisation and the country going to the dogs.
It's my job as a conservative to depress you...Conservatism is depressive realism.
Conservatism may sound miserable, even misanthropic...
He is setting things up for conservatives to always lose. Liberals get to be optimists, conservatives have to make do with being miserable pessimists and depressives. Which side is going to attract the most dynamic people?
How does he justify this? He argues that the "creative thinkers" are liberals but that these thinkers in trying to create better societies are too optimistic about human nature and therefore there is a need for pessimistic conservatives to inject a dose of corrective realism:
There has always been a need for innovative, creative thinkers (and this is why the arts will always be dominated by liberals), but there will also forever be a place for the depressive realist.
Yes, he's partly right. Liberals want to apply the creative instinct in a way that is detached from most aspects of human nature, which inevitably has destructive consequences.
But it won't do to allow liberals to be the positive, creative ones who make the running, whilst conservatives are the negative, pessimistic realists who forever react to what liberals are doing.
And I am optimistic that this will change in the years ahead.