Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Conservative Party is Doomed, and Good Riddance

Well, not entirely doomed, but that got you reading this far.

But almost certainly doomed in the sense of ever forming a majority government again.  The party has now been utterly - and completely needlessly - seriously split over Agent Cameron's personal vanity project, Gay Marriage, as last night's vote showed. Even before the result was known, the conservative religious blogger Cranmer opined that the split in the party was the worst since the Corn Laws.

The fact that more Tory MP's voted against the proposal than for it means that the party is highly unlikely to reap any benefit in the minds of the public for being 'modern', but such benefits were always chimerical anyway.  More significantly, it shows the level of dissatisfaction in Tory ranks with David Cameron premiership and the bitterness he has sown. Activists will continue to bleed away at an alarming rate, and MPs grow more fractious.

But "Agent Cameron" is not reaping what he has sown on the issue of gay marriage alone, but on his entire style of management of the Tory party, and to understand that we have to look deep into Tory Party culture.

The Conservative party is home to some fine political traditions - the Peelite Conservative idea of "reforming the ill and preserving the good" for one, and the classical Liberal tradition inherited from the  old Liberal party for another. Unfortunately, it is also heir to an ancient and entirely cynical tradition of being a vehicle for the rich and powerful to preserve their grip on power. This  "Vicar of Bray" tradition has arguably been the dominant one throughout the party's history, certainly amongst it's leadership, who have treated the ordinary members of the party and their views with the ill-disguised aristocratic contempt. "I would sooner listen to the opinions of my valet than those of the Conservative Party Conference" said the leader Arthur Balfour. In more recent times, the great Tory diarist and historian Alan Clark - like Cameron an Old Etonian - called the party an "Old Whore".

"Agent Cameron" is certainly a leader in that thoroughly ignoble tradition. Seemingly believing in very little himself, he treats his party members and their passions with ill-disguised snobbish disdain and seems to go out of his way to insult them. He could, for example, have promised to finally introduce marriage tax allowances in the next budget to help heal the wounds and pain caused by Gay Marriage, but instead for the fourth time delayed their introduction. At the Gay Marriage debate, he once again led from the back, not even bothering to turn up for much of it.

And it is for this reason the Tory party is now doomed. For all his talk of "modernisation", David Cameron and his fellow Cameroons have completely failed to understand that this management style goes down like a lead balloon in the 21st Century. Deference and the Primrose League, when large numbers of Tory activists and voters from modest backgrounds were quite happy to "know their place" have long gone. Tory activists feel not just betrayed but thoroughly humiliated, and are leaving in droves. The Conservative Party is being hollowed out from within, and if current trends continue will soon have a membership in five figures.

Even more significantly, Cameron has managed the signal achievement of lowering the "hard ceiling" of those who will never under any circumstances vote Conservative. With UKIP gathering steam,  the party is caught between what the creator of ConservativeHome and blogger, Tim Montgomerie, called "pincers" to the left and the right, with less and less room for manoeuvre. Consequently, it unlikely to be able to ever form a majority government ever again.

And to that we can say a large "HURRAH!", because the eternal canker in the Tory body politic, the cynical desire to occupy power with no principle and to just "go with the flow", has arguable held back radical right-wing ideas for over a century.  Moreover, it has alienated many working class people who would in normal circumstances would be socially conservative from ever voting for the Conservative Party, instead coralling them into voting for socialism.  Thus, over the decades this malign Tory tradition of "power at any price" has greatly reduced the liberty and prosperity of the British people.

UKIP now have a truly colossal opportunity. Bereft as we are from class baggage, we can take the best of the Conservative parties traditions and leave the worst. Indeed, we can do the same from that other dying giant, the Labour Party. As tribal politics crumbles and resentment of the new Metropolitan Political Class festers,  our politics and ideas can both unite and drive the country forwards in the process, making our people happier, more prosperous and more free. 

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