The Tories and Change

[I started the blog post earlier in the week but didn't get time to finish it. The announcement of the "Vote for Change" message has spurred me on to retrieve it from the bin]

James Forsyth’s fascinating piece about the Tory ‘dead shark’ dilemma confirms to me that what we are witnessing is not, as some commentators would have us believe, a natural tightening in the polls before an election.

It’s more significant. It’s the consequence of short-termism, compromise and a failure to embed change in the Conservative Party.

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson rediscovered social democracy for Labour. They struggled and won many battles in order to achieve this.

David Cameron has failed to redefine his party. He compromised with his right wing instead of taking them on. The nearer we are to the election, the more it shows.

If you look at the Times today, you can see where Conservative attempts to market the party as new and fresh comes unstuck when you look at the data. One in 16 new Tory candidates are related to past or present Tory MPs! Half of them were recruited from within the party machine, the lobbying industry, The City or the Bar.

Not for the first time in recent months, the media are behind the British Public in their thinking. The Sun front page accusing Gordon Brown of being the “Prime Monster” received almost universal ridicule in the thousands of conversations taking place in the social media space. Sure, the Tories score short-term hits with well-spun news pieces but they’re not telling the whole story. And voters sense this.

The truth is, people know that David Cameron failed to face down the Conservative right. A majority of the electorate may not be enamoured by the European Union but they know that the Tory position is so illogical that they look ridiculous in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

And more importantly, they know that the Tories were all over the place on the economy. If you need reminding of their inconsistent position, here’s the Sun promoting George Osborne condemning the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley.

They’ve not changed themselves enough and near an election, people are seeing this. I can’t find the story from this week that reflected the poll showing that a third of people say that they don’t know what the Tories stand for but it’s a dramatic statistic.

So  I think to open up an election with the message “Vote for Change” is extraordinarily naive. A third of voters don’t know what change they’ll be voting for. Worse, many people still think they offer the wrong kind of change. It’s a complacent message. It builds on the Tories’ hubristic belief that the election was gifted them last year. It lacks hope and optimism. It’s devoid of a future offer. They’ll regret it.

6 comments ↓

#1 Quietzapple on 02.27.10 at 3:54 pm

You’re quite right that Chameleon lacked the balls to face down the Tory Right wing. They have too much strength for him to dare, he is a PR man after all. He relies on his hoped for liberalisation of his party re sex & ethnicity for his legacy.

BUT Labour is better and respected for that, so we are gaining, not simply that Tory support is slipping away.

When people were asked wether they preferred a Labour or a Conservative Government a fair while back they divided 44 – 42:

http://quietzapple-musing.blogspot.com/2009/08/labour-44-or-conservative-42.html

Gave Tim Montgomerie the bloggy wobbles.

And people like much of the improvements in their local services (see above also) though they take their time to credit HMG.

AFairFutureForAll – many of the Uk’s desires and hopes are contained in the real prospect for a Labour Britain.

#2 Andy Mabbett on 02.27.10 at 4:04 pm

“One in 16 new Tory candidates are related to past or present Tory MPs!”

How terrible. And how good that labour don’t do that. *cough* Jack Dromey *cough*.

#3 Dave Weeden on 02.27.10 at 5:24 pm

*Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson rediscovered social democracy for Labour. *

Do you really believe that those three ‘rediscovered’ social democracy? When did Labour lose it? (That’s a real, not rhetorical question.) Labour did have some needed reforms in the late 80s and early 90s, but surely these came from Neil Kinnock and John Smith: your triumvirate were the beneficiaries, not the discoverers. Those who cannot remember their history are doomed to rewrite it, it seems.

*One in 16 new Tory candidates are related to past or present Tory MPs! Half of them were recruited from within the party machine, the lobbying industry, The City or the Bar.*

And similar figures for Labour? Tamsin Dunwoody, Hilary Benn? If the Labour ‘party machine’ includes the trade unions, I’d guess that a lot of candidates came through it. And why not?

#4 Chris Watts on 02.27.10 at 5:25 pm

David Camerons lack of balls to face down the Tory Right wing is probably their biggest weakness. Due to the fact when he doesn’t face them down, they are usually permitted to air their views as policy with little rebuke, while CCHQ puts out an opposing policy.

#5 Quietzapple on 02.27.10 at 8:14 pm

I gather George Osborne has shifted the tory scene to the right already this weekend, and in desperation, they may follow.

They used the “Vote for Change” slogan for the County Council elections last May, one of two of the posters may still be up.

They used it in areas where there was a tory councillor and a tory council.

It’s all part of a long term negative strategy, you can invent the PPBs now. They hope to hijack the UK, treating us like a tiny country some mad ex-marines might hijack.

Brits may well have too much sense, despite the billionaire led press.

#6 Fed-up of Social Democrats on 02.28.10 at 9:33 pm

Firstly, Tom, Labour used to be socialist so I don’t know why you eulogise over your party’s leaders ‘rediscovering’ social democracy. The original social democrats in your party were the ‘Gang of 4′. I think you mean the people you mention ‘discovered’ social democracy, post – Clause 4.

Let’s not forget your contribution to the downfall of the architect of social democracy in your party either. But I do like to eat at Bilash as well.

You also neglect to mention that Brown promised the electorate a referendum on Lisbon then retracted it. Cameron was very stupid in saying he would hold a referendum on it, even after all Member States had ratified it.

Face it – both of the ‘major’ parties have failed us.

I also think your party sending out questionnaires about immigration, after you tried to socially engineer the electorate, shows how thick you must think we are. I guess you do not have to face a GP’s surgery where you cannot pre-book more than a few days ahead and, if you need to be seen quickly, have to phone in from 8 o’clock AM to try and secure a same-day appointment.

It isn’t YOUR kids being held up by primary school teachers having to slow the learning pace because of language difficulties.

And Harriet Harman and you lot STILL go for more social engineering with the Equalities Bill.

And, like Dave Weeden says, hardly any meritocracy in New Labour. I studied with Luciana Berger who has been parachuted into a safe Merseyside seat. They hope the locals vote for the one wearing red, when Berger is hardly one to be empathic with them. I suppose sleeping with the son of the incumbent PM is a great career booster in ‘meritocratic’ New Labour.

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