12 Month to the General Election: State of the Parties #2 The Conservatives

by Ray_North on May 21, 2014

imagesThe Conservatives. Right, I’ll put my objective hat on and try to be as fair as I can to the Tories.

Here goes.

What do the Tories need at the next general election
Well, their aim is to become the largest party in parliament and thus, form a government on their Jack Jones without the malign influence of any one else. To do this, they’ll need to hold their own seats, add about twenty new ones and hope that the Lib-Dems have a bit of a sticky result as well.

Performance since the last election
Since the last general election the Tories have performed in an interesting way – now, I’m not just going to say, they’ve performed crap, because that would be easy, as I say, I’m going to try to be as objective as I can – and, objectively, the Tories have almost done what they set out to do. They wanted to establish a Thatcherite low spend, public service cutting agenda, and they’ve done that; they wanted to blame the Labour Party for the ‘mess’ we are in and deflect from the real structural problems in the global economy and financial markets, and they’ve done that – they wanted to go into the next general election being able to boast about economic success and they’ll be able to do that (regardless of how fatuous that boast actually is). So on a number of levels they’ve achieved what they set out to do – on other levels they’re confused or vulnerable. The issue of Europe continues to dog them and most Tories are now half in love with or scared to death of Nigel Farage; whilst their supposed new caring, green Conservatism (and I’m far from convinced that that was anything but a cunning rouse) has been entirely ditched, the Tories have now reverted to the nasty bunch of bastards we know.

High Points and Leaders Performance
The high point has been the move into economic growth – putting to one side the fact that it has been achieved on the back of the virtual destruction of whole areas of the public sector and a fundamental diminution in the size and effectiveness of the state, and the aid of an almost suicidal rush to inflate the housing market (let’s see what happens when interest rates go through the roof in 2015), the Tories will be able to say, ‘we are now longer in recession.’

David Cameron is pretty secure in his leadership as well – despite rumblings about Boris Johnson and even George Osborne being potential rivals, it is unlikely that the Conservatives will be anything other than loyal to Cameron for a while to come, and he can feel pleased with that. He can also feel pleased with the way in which he has benefitted from the inability of Ed Miliband to truly connect with the electorate, and the ability of Nick Clegg to prove himself a worthless tosser. Even though vast swathes of the country hate David Cameron, those who are broadly sympathetic to him, or apathetic in general are not being put off by his tenure in Number 10.

Situation now
We are at an interesting time for the Conservatives – even though socially and economically they are firmly entrenched on the right, and even though they are probably more Thatcherite on some issues than even Blessed Margaret would have hoped for (Free Schools, dismantling of the NHS, bedroom tax etc), there are still some in the Tories who think that they have not gone far enough – these are the people who have, and let’s not beat around the bush here, xenophobic tendencies and want to see immigrants sent home and the UK in some kind of splendid isolation from the rest of Europe. These Tories, who have always existed within the confines of the Party, now have an alternative home in UKIP – how the Tories will react to their continued clarion calls together with UKIPs continued success will be fascinating.

The Tories Problems
They still haven’t got a prayer of winning a seat in Scotland, South Wales, most inner-cities and great parts of Northern England.

They are seen by many women as being unattractive, they are seen as increasingly unnecessarily aggressive towards the unemployed and ill and, yes, as I said above, they have the problem of UKIP. In short, the Tories may be an attractive proposition to other Tories, to the rest of us, they remain the party that we would be least likely to vote for.

What to do between now and the election
They have three prongs to their strategy – first, continue to destabilise Labour, something which has been made easy for them, by Labour continued rather tepid response to their socio-economic policies; second, do something about UKIP, which will involve a constant promising of referenda and constant campaign to vilify Farage whenever they can; third, bang on about the economy as often as they can ‘we made the tough choices…..’

How will the Tories fare in 12 months
They won’t lose many seats – and though I’m still not convinced that they’ll gain the requisite number they need to win, I’m more worried about the prospect of an outright Tory victory than I was.

Chances of them getting my vote
…hell freezes over…

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie_South May 21, 2014 at 8:32 am

The Tories do have a route to Government without a majority that avoids a Coalition. If they just miss an outright majority they might be able to run a minority administration with the support of the Unionists (as Major did post-Maastricht). Cameron has already had the DUP round for dinner at number 10 to butter them up.

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Robert May 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

Well I’m not even registering to vote I’ve had enough of the middle class mantra of both labour and the Tories .

Labour is off again not speaking about anyone who is not Hard working, you do not hear about pensioners or welfare claimants, all you get are middle class hard working. Labour tell us about the New Min wage yet still agrees to a 1% cap on people who work for the public sector.

Tory Tory Lite takes your pick gets basically the same.

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Green Christian May 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm

There are more than two parties in the UK. And some of them do stick up for pensioners and welfare claimants.

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George_East May 21, 2014 at 9:13 am

That’ll be two out of two for the wrong party logo – top work. After the Irish Labour Party logo, we now have the old Tory logo. It’s that Cameron era touchy feely tree thing now.

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Ray North May 21, 2014 at 9:45 am

First by accident then by design.

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George_East May 21, 2014 at 11:15 am

It’s true that the old logo better reflects the Party – a touch Nuremburg-y.

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Alx w May 21, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I’m not sure that a bit of tory resurgence now might not help labour. If they were looking totally hopeless, labour might struggle to get ‘ their’ vote out. A more likely looking conservative party will galvinise the vote and push others into a reluctant labour (anyone but the tories) vote.

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Mike June 5, 2014 at 11:15 am

Labour was at least partially to blame for the crash. Canada didn`t crash and Britain (other than the US out of the major countries) had the biggest GDP fall. We were running 3% deficits every year in the 2000′s after the surplus of 1999 went away (after following Conservative spending plans). We were ill prepared for the crash.

Labour liked to blame the Major Government for 1992 and the ERM, even though Labour agreed with ERM membership (and wanted a higher exchange rate). They also kept criticizing the Conservatives on Black/Golden Wednesday for years so please be consistent.

Also spending has hardly been cut overall. Merely the growth minimised. We are still spending more than we did in 2008.

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