Archive for October 2013
As the Conservative Party gathers in Manchester for its annual conference, attentions are beginning to turn towards the next general election, which is now less than two years away. To give themselves the best possible chance of winning an outright majority in 2015, the Conservatives need to ditch David Cameron as soon as possible.
Firstly, his failure to win an outright majority at the 2010 election is unforgivable. Labour’s track record during the previous 13 years was easily the worst of any government post-1945. On economics, Labour raided the private pension funds, sold off the gold reserves when it was at the bottom of its cycle, introduced 157 new taxes, and they borrowed more money than all previous British governments put together. During the so-called ‘boom’ years, they failed to put any money aside for an economic downturn, and when the crash inevitably happened, the British economy was affected far more than other leading nations.
Politically, Labour signed Britain up to the European Union treaties of Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon without a democratic mandate. Labour allowed immigration to spiral out of control, many of whom came from countries that do not share Britain’s Christian heritage and values. Labour brought in the Human Rights Act, which has done enormous damage to our legal system and has made it virtually impossible to deport Islamic extremists. Labour released unrepentant murderers and terrorists in Northern Ireland in the name of ‘peace’. Labour allowed Mr Blair to continue as party leader and Prime Minister for four years after he lied to Parliament over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Winning an outright majority against such a discredited government should have been easily achievable with the right leader, a strong manifesto and a good campaign. Mr Cameron’s attempts to present himself as a Blair clone did him no favours. 1997 was long past by this stage, and the British people had largely sussed Blair for the incompetent, lying crook that he was. The Conservative grass roots made a serious mistake in choosing Mr Cameron over the much more able David Davis. Mr Cameron’s credentials were talked up and exaggerated by a largely sympathetic political broadcast media, who regarded him as the heir to Blair, while Mr Davis’s speech to the 2005 party conference was nowhere near as bad as they made it out to be.
A lot of rubbish is talked about how you go about winning elections. First of all, forget any talk of ‘swing’. To win an election, you need to persuade your supporters to come out and vote, while trying to get those who would naturally support your opponents to stay at home. On this ground, Mr Cameron failed miserably. In 1992, John Major formed a small Conservative majority with 14,000,000 votes. In 2010, Mr Cameron managed 10,700,000. Most of those three-and-a-half million lost voters have not all died or emigrated, and would consider lending their vote to the party again if presented with the right policies and leader. Then there are the millions of younger people who have come onto the electoral register since 1992. Yes, it’s true that a significant minority of young people never give a moment’s thought to anything apart from their jobs, their immediate circle of friends and celebrity culture, but many more others would be willing to get out and vote if they felt a party deserved it.
Mr Cameron undoubtedly enjoys being in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, because he has much more in common with them and their leader than he does with grassroots Conservatives, and indeed with many of his own backbenchers. That’s why he sees fit to say and do things that insult and offend the grassroots.
For instance, in 2006, he referred to UKIP supporters as ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly’. Much (though by no means all) of UKIP’s support base comes from disaffected ex-Conservatives. When in power, he bullied his party into supporting gay marriage, despite it being absent from the 2010 manifesto, and there being no mandate for it. He knew this would be a popular on the dinner party circuit in Islington, but it wouldn’t go down well with the grassroots, many of whom have religious or moral objections to such a fundamental redefinition of marriage.
Earlier this year, Lord Tebbit, still Britain’s best political strategist, compared the challenge the Conservative Party faces to that of a retail store that has lost its way. He said that three things need to be done. The first is that the owner needs to stop shouting insults at potential customers as they walk past (in other words, stop the kind of thing mentioned above). Secondly, ask whether the right products are being displayed in the shop window. Thirdly, ask whether they have the right people trying to sell these products.
This brings us on to the mythical ‘centre ground’. In modern terms, this means more-or-less supporting everything New Labour stood for: EU membership, high immigration, a large public sector, a large welfare state, comprehensive education, soft on crime. Well, the so-called ‘centre ground’ has become rather crowded, with all three main parties now adopting such policies, and it is evidently a massive turn-off for millions of potential voters. Cameron and his ‘modernisers’ are wholly out of touch with how ordinary people think. At the same time, Conservative Party membership has nearly halved to 134,000 in the years since Mr Cameron became leader.
Forget the ‘centre ground’ and instead focus on the ‘common ground’. People in pubs up and down the country are talking about similar things. There is no great dividing line between Conservative and Labour heartlands when they talk about their concerns. Similar things are being said in pubs in Newcastle as in the more affluent parts of Kent. Broadly speaking, people are: Fed up of immigration spiralling out of control; fed up of people abusing the welfare system when they should be pulling their weight; fed up of EU interference in British domestic affairs; fed up of their taxes going towards ‘overseas aid’ when Britain has a growing pile of debt, and plenty of problems of its own; fed up of bureaucracy and inefficiency in the public sector; fed up of the police and courts being soft on criminals; fed up of Islamic extremism and our inability to deport those who preach hatred and anti-British values; fed up of British service personnel being asked to risk their lives in unnecessary foreign conflicts, and at the same time not being provided with the proper equipment nor given sufficient psychological support when they return home.
These are the issues people are talking about. These are their concerns. There is still time for the Conservative Party to engage with the British people and offer them a fresh leader and set of policies before the next election.
There is everything to play for. Ed Miliband is doing a dreadful job with Labour. His ‘energy price freeze’ policy was quickly seen for the fraud it was when it became clear that the power companies would hike their prices up shortly before it was implemented. His plans to give votes to 16-year-olds have been widely ridiculed, and rightly so.
Mr Miliband is an oddball. The son of a Marxist academic, he was brought up in a household where Marx and his teachings were treated with a religious reverence. The key lines in his speeches sound over-rehearsed and forced. He has the appearance of a goofy sixth former. He and his front bench have shown no contrition for the absolute mess they made of the British economy. Mr Miliband has failed to acknowledge his own role in rising energy bills due to the ‘green taxes’ he introduced during his time as Energy and Climate Change Secretary. Ridiculing Mr Miliband’s policies should be easy, and hammering the message home that Labour cannot be trusted with the economy is not especially difficult.
However, the time has now come for the Conservatives to ditch Mr Cameron. He would love nothing more than another coalition with the Liberal Democrats. That would let him off the hook when it comes to offering a referendum on EU membership, or repealing the Human Rights Act. Being in coalition with the Lib Dems gives him the excuse he needs not to behave like a conservative. Alternatively, he would be just as happy to lose the next election, after which he would blame those against ‘modernising’ the party for the defeat, banishing them from the party for good, and turning it into a clone of New Labour.
The Conservative Party cannot afford to risk going into the next election with Mr Cameron as leader. He has been a miserable failure during the last seven years, and has proven himself to be slippery, unprincipled, and lacking the essential qualities needed to lead. The party needs to act now, and time is running out.