Cameron’s Tory critics are deluded beyond belief


6:06 pm - May 9th 2010

by Paul Sagar    


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The only surprising thing about the descent of the Tory party into post-election civil war is the rapidity with which it is occurring.

Lord Tebbit – who last year was telling Tories to vote UKIP in the EU elections – has declared that he’d rather see the Conservatives in opposition than power-sharing with the Lib Dems, something which has been echoed by backbenchers like Daniel Kawczynski MP, chairman of a Tory group opposing electoral reform.

But if Cameron does fail to negotiate a deal with the Lib Dems and ends up in opposition, he will be seen as a complete failure by his party. After all The Observer already reports today that the knives are out for him.

The irony is that these criticism have a great deal of truth in them. But what Cameron’s critics in his own party fail to see is that they are far more culpable than he.

I agree with Chris that the TV debates gave Nick Clegg a moment to shine, and made it clear to many voters that if they want a Blair-clone, it makes more sense to favour Clegg than Cameron. Because the Lib Dem leader genuinely is a sort of Blair, whereas Cameron’s entire purpose has been to pretend that’s what he is, so as to distract attention from his party.

Cameron has run the party via a tiny clique, and he has ignored backbenchers. And the Big Society idea was a load of “crap”, and no doubt it was completely unsellable on the doorsteps. But what’s amazing about these Tory discontents is their sheer myopia.

They cannot see that Cameron had to run the party like that so as to distract attention away from the unreconstructed Thatcherite, homophobic, xenophobic, intensely Euro-sceptic, callous, Christian-fundamentalist loon contingents that make up huge chunks of the Tory grass-roots and Parliamentary party.

Although it’s true that Cameron is a failure relative to his poll-highs of 20+ points 18 months ago, from another angle he’s also a remarkable success. Like he keeps saying, he’s overseen the biggest transfer of seats in 80 years, and made the Tories the biggest party in Parliament with the biggest share of the vote. The irony of all these Tory back-stabbers is that they cannot see that it wasn’t Dave wot lost it, it was them.

For despite Cameron’s best efforts he simply could not conceal from the electorate the true nature of his party. Whether it was Chris Grayling and Co’s homophobia, George Osborne’s stench of sneering privilege, Not-Lord Aschroft’s unapologetic non-domism, or simply being unable to offer any meaningful big-picture policy for fear of setting off an internal revolt, Cameron lost it because of his party and he’s actually done well in spite of them.

Cameron is cool in a crisis, is an impressive public speaker, and has approval ratings way above the Conservative Party itself. That, we might recall, is largely why the Tories ditched David Davis and backed D-Cam in 2005; he was seen as the best possibility for decontaminating the brand.

Yet rather than seeing that the contamination problem remains at their end, knife-wielding Tories are exhibiting classic ressentiment and blaming it all on Dave.

The sheer self-deluded ingratitude of their behaviour, combined with the arrogant sense of entitlement that it was their turn to govern therefore Dave must be to blame if they’re not in power, is astounding.

And, frankly, hilarious. Get me some popcorn.

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About the author
Paul Sagar is a post-graduate student at the University of London and blogs at Bad Conscience.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Elections2010 ,Westminster

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Reader comments


At my place, this paragraph

“I agree with Chris that the TV debates gave Nick Clegg a moment to shine, and made it clear to many voters that if they want a Blair-clone, it makes more sense to favour Clegg than Cameron. Because the Lib Dem leader genuinely is a sort of Blair, whereas Cameron’s entire purpose has been to pretend that’s what he is, so as to distract attention from his party. ”

is followed by this paragraph

“Although Cleggstacy did not translate into seats for the Lib Dems, what the TV debates did do was remind the electorate that Cameron the PR man is not truly representative of the Nasty Party. Which further reinforced a growing image of duplicity and insincerity.”

before anyone accuses me of not knowing the election results bla bla bla

It’s the standard stages of grief. Most Tories are still on stage 1 (denial), Lord Tebbit has advanced to Stage 2 (anger) with great speed.

I predict they’ll all be at acceptance before the ink’s dry on the Lib/Con Queen’s Speech.

3. Thanks Sunny

So moaning comments from two Z-list Conservatives equals ‘civil war’?

How on earth will you find words to describe what’s about to happen in the Labour party?

What is ‘beyond belief’ is that your man Sunny Hundal came out and endorsed the Lib Dems, a decision that looks set to install David Cameron as Prime Minister.

You can’t reform the Tory party.

Cameron has managed to con the public into thinking he has done so, but it can’t be done. The tories are what they are, and increasingly they are copying more and more the Republican Right wing in the US.

But Labour need to stop pissing about and get rid of Brown quickly. The longer he stays the longer it looks like he is hanging on for dear life. Let the public see that Labour has got rid of Brown and moved on while the tories are back to their old bad ways, fighting like rats in a sack before they even start.

5. Nick Cohen is a Tory

It is funny but predictable.
When Labour had problems with Militant tendency the soul of the party had to fought for. It was ugly and Kinnock took shed loads of abuse but it did clear Labour of an electoral albatros.
All Cameron has done is given a Mr Nice guy persona and glib references that the Tories have changed.
Where the reality is that they haven’t changed. They are still more Michael Howard than Oliver Letwin.
The super lib dems are now showing the Tories in their true colours. Go Clegg go.

“So moaning comments from two Z-list Conservatives equals ‘civil war’?”

I’m sure Ashcroft who has bailed out the tories for the last decade will be delighted to be regarded as a z lister, Or did you forget him?

Or what about the front bencher who has said that Gove and Osborne should go?

Not-Lord Ashcroft: a main bankroller of the Tory Party, and its deputy chairman

Lord Tebbit: a former front bench minister, known as Thatcher’s attack dog and still a major voice within party grass-roots.

If these are your z-list, who the hell is on your a-list?

But please, keep them coming. Nothing like a bit of audience participation to make the Civil War that bit more fun. I wonder who your Cromwell will turn out to be?

8. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Thanks sunny.
True their will be problems with the Labour party but they will be personality based.
Is Milliband better on TV than Johnston.
There are not that many differences in which direction to take the party.
All candidates know they have to reengage with the core voters.
The tory fight is about idealogy and the direction of their party.
Cameron has the problem is that he is off kilter with party workers.
Martin Kettle, although I can’t stand him, got it about right people voted for Cameron not the conservatives.
For Labour it was the other way round

Like he keeps saying, he’s overseen the biggest transfer of seats in 80 years, and made the Tories the biggest party in Parliament with the biggest share of the vote.

In 80 years, really? Oh so the 147 seats that Blair won (and the 171 that Major lost) did not happen in the last 80 years? And what about the 239 gain that Labour made in 1945 and the 190 that the Tories lost?

This is the typical Hilton meme. He carefully crafts a statement: “At yesterday’s general election the Conservative Party gained more seats than at any in election for the last 80 years.” and then allows reporters and bloggers to misquote it, so that a different “truth” is created.

Please, everyone, start the antidote meme that the largest swing in the last 80 years was 1945 and the second largest was 1997.

The fact is, Labour is the party of landslides, the Conservative party is the party of small gains. Cameron’s “success” is that he’s changed that trend with one larger gain, but he has still been unable to make the Conservative party a party of landslides. And remember, in 1997 the difference between Labour and Conservatives was 253. The difference at the moment is 48.

Cameron is no heir to Blair!

10. Nick Cohen is a Tory

I love the idea the Tebbitt, a man revered by Tory party workers, as much as Thatcher, is a Z lister.
Thanks Sunny
Are you Nick Cohen ?

11. Thanks Sunny

True their will be problems with the Labour party but they will be personality based. Is Milliband better on TV than Johnston.

There are not that many differences in which direction to take the party.

ROFL!

What, you mean like New Labour vs the Left?

I think you’ll find your man Sunny Hundal has some fairly wacky ideas of his own to add.

That’s the only civil war worth watching for the next year.

Believe me, I stocked up on popcorn, butter and icing sugar months ago in anticipation: that’s right, it’s gonna taste sweeeeeeeeet!

12. Thanks Sunny

I love the idea the Tebbitt, a man revered by Tory party workers, as much as Thatcher, is a Z lister.

And I love the fact that the left is still trying to get over the Thatcher era!

Just putting this one out there, but could “Thanks Sunny” be Martin Coxall, who has finally twigged that using his own name = Daily Mail references, but thinks he is cleverly throwing us off the sent by posting under his own name relatively sensibly, and then switching?

Just a thought.

14. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Oh dear you are on drugs.
The left got over Thatcher years ago.
It is your boys and gals that are having the problem with Maggies legacy in the party.
Cue Tebbitts rant.
I hope the Labour party does have an open discussion on policy.
It will will certainly will be different than the Tories.
Whose cracks are starting to appear because they didn’t
Also there is something slightly sinister about an individual whose party is to soon to regain power but the most important event for that troll is the election of the opposition leader in two months time.

I think that a lot of voters have harboured doubts about the Conservatives since Cameron became leader: it has been common to hear people asking whether Cameron could keep his backwoodsmen under control. However the strategy of relentless attacks on Gordon Brown during 2009 paid off in terms of a large lead in opinion polls. The strategy then turned out to be unsustainable; in the run-up to the election the voters expected a more positive message, especially in the TV debates, and there wasn’t one. I think that Mr Sagar is quite correct: there wasn’t one because the Conservative Party probably would not be able to agree on one. There is a wide range of views in the Conservative Party and, if they do agree on some issues, they may not want to project them as their key message to the voters. The “Big Society” theme isn’t credible from a Party whose leader, just over 20 years ago, said that there was no such thing as society. The “Big Society” theme is a logical follow-on to the portrayal of New Labour as top-down authoritarians but isn’t credible from a Party that itself appears uncomfortable with an active, and critical, civil society.

As Cameron negotiates with the LibDems key issues get put on the table. This creates discomfort: the public gets a glimpse of the substance of politics that is normally hidden from view. Of course if the LibDems then begin negotiations with Labour the same thing may apply. What if the LibDems demand some guarantees about the outputs from the Chilcot Inquiry or about civil liberties? Where does that leave Labour? For Labour the question isn’t just changing the leader but reviewing the record of the last 13 years and that might not be easy either.

The 1931 reference that so many Tories are trotting out is not quite what it seems.

In 1931, what was being sold to the electorate was a National Government: Ramsay MacDonald was still PM (although, yes, he had been sold a pup by Stanley Baldwin). There were Labour and Liberal MPs in that Government.

Of course, as with the 1918 Coalition, the Tories emerged stronger and the other participants got screwed over, and this is something the Lib Dems will want to avoid. Hence no coalition as yet, and I doubt there will be.

The 1922 Committee meeting tomorrow would be an interesting fly on the wall experience.

Try Simon Heffer, or any columnist for the Telegraph.

They’re scum and they’re deluded.

The Tories lose three consecutive elections (97, 01, 05) – and in 01 and 05, are explicitly hard-right, anti-centre, playing to their core vote. And they did pretty badly.

DaveCam comes along, realises the problem that the Tories are still the nasty party, and tries to create a detoxified brand, with the impression of moving the party to the centre.

The funny thing is that SCUM like Simon Heffer, or any reader/writer on ConservativeHome, or any grassroots Tory, think the problem is that DaveCam wasn’t right wing enough. Yeah, cos I’m sure that’s bound to win over lots of former Labour voters who aren’t xenophobic, homophobic nutters.

Tebbit, quite frankly, should fuck off. He complained about people celebrating Chinese New Year in his part of the country. Not just that, he kicked a little Chinese boy for daring to celebrate in the street. He kicked a little boy.

I think that sums up why DaveCam was right to ignore people like Tebbit. Ultimately, the problem is that unlike Blair (or Clegg), DaveCam has not carried his party closer to the centre. It’s just a PR exercise. The party hasn’t changed: Stroud, Grayling, heck for some reason Hague is back – these are emblematic of what the average Tory member is.

18. Nick Cohen is a Tory

If is Martin hasn’t he got to get up early in the morning, so he can fight some women in a bus queue

Just as I said,

You cant reform the Tory party.

They are bunch of right wing, egotistical zealots and pin heads who have a gigantic sense of entitlement.

20. Thanks Sunny

The funny thing is that SCUM like Simon Heffer, or any reader/writer on ConservativeHome, or any grassroots Tory…

And here we see the mature and sophisticated level of assessment that characterises much of the left blogosphere’s analysis of the Conservaive party.

‘They’re all SCUM!!!’ Almost a headline worthy of the right-wing gutter press!

Highly infantile, but then this blog does suffer from an ‘infantilist disorder’ (or was that just Hundal himself? I can’t recall.)

21. Thanks Sunny

You cant reform the Tory party.

They are bunch of right wing, egotistical zealots and pin heads who have a gigantic sense of entitlement.

Except, of course, for the ones who are not.

Another sophisticated piece of analysis designed to ensure the left a lengthy spell in the wilderness.

22. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Thanks Sunny
calm down, calm down.
But they have point.
Also right wing sites don’t exactly say the nicest things about Labour supporters.
Are you Nick Cohen ?

23. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Thanks Sunny
calm down, calm down.
But they have point.
Also right wing sites don’t exactly say the nicest things about Labour supporters.
Are you Nick Cohen ?
“Another sophisticated piece of analysis designed to ensure the left a lengthy spell in the wilderness.”
Why are do you care ?

24. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Sorry
Why do you care ?

what labour civil war? most labour supporters i know are pleasantly relieved by the election results. if you check the various forums,blogs etc most of the bitterness at the outcome is coming from the tories. with such huge advantages of money,propaganda,photogenic leader etc how the hell did they blow it?

Exactly Paul…..

Tories went into the last election with 80% of the media giving them a fee ride. They had all Ashcroft’s money in the marginal’s, They had a tired govt and a disliked Prime Minister and they managed to scrape 36% of the vote. What a bunch of failures.

No wonder Tebbit is angry.

27. Nick Cohen is a Tory

I agree with Paul.
I cannot think of one Labour supporter who thought we would get a majority.
As for policy.
What differences ?
The Purnell, Kampher and Demos brigade have already jumped ship to the Lib Dems.
The decents, Harrys place, David Toube, Kamm, Cohen and Bright have jumped ship to the Cameron right.
Labour should
1. Stop the ID card idea.
2. Create a civil liberties bill.
3. Look at a banking reform bill.
4. Look at how to help front line public services, look at ideas like expanding surestart and adult education
5.Reengage with both working class and middle class voters by finding out their concerns
6. Retain it’s position on Europe. Don’t join the Euro.
7. Get out of Afghanistan.
8. Have an adult look at trident, are there more cost effective deterrants

Well, I would certainly have voted for the Tories if I’d believed for one moment that they were actually a Thatcherite party of right-wing liberals. I am the sort of voter that Tebbit is talking about. I was alienated by Dave.

I’m not right-wing because I am a nasty person who hates everyone, particularly the gays and the immigrunts and the forruns. I’m a rightie because I want to live in a fair society in which everyone has an equal opportunity and the less well-off can become better off. The Left’s very purpose is supposedly to achieve these things, and it’s had 13 years of free reign to do that. And yet, it spent the entire time pointlessly banning things and starting wars. I’m not homophobic, xenophobic or Christian – I’m a rational person who knows that if something isn’t working at all, then the last thing you do is insist that it needs to be done some more.

I am not alone in this. There are many people like me. But we don’t have a party any more. The Conservatives lost track of their purpose long before Cameron, and now they free-wheel around, hated by the Left for being Tories and by the Right for being social democrats. They are a pointless, useless party. They needed a Thatcher to bring them back together and renew their confidence and purpose. Instead, they picked a hopeless ex-TV executive who did nothing but divide them further. I’m amazed they even got 36% of the vote.

29. Gaf the Horse

@26 You forgot the most important thing Labour should do in your list. It should be there at No. 0, before everying else. Of course it’s …. electoral reform. Regardless of what has happened this time sooner or later with FPTP there is going to be a Tory majority government with a minority of the votes again and they’ll screw the lot of us just like they did last time. Please let Clegg and Brown’s meeting today be along the lines of “We’ll string ’em along for another day to give us time to get the nationalists sorted out and then we’ll unveil the Rainbow coalition on Tuesday.”

How did the Conservatives blow it?

Not only did they have the massive advantages of the Murdoch press and Cashcroft millions etc. the Labour government had been through the massive global financial crisis, there had been the expenses scandals, there was the misunderstood war in Afghanistan, the Labour leader proving rather difficult for the public to love…

I am a Labour guy but I think that if the Conservative party had set about the election with a pretty boring campaign they would have won it.

I think if Cameron had been a bit dull and rather tedious, if their policies had just been presented as classic Tory policies instead of all that dressing up as “Big Society” etc they would have won the election.

I am a gay guy and I was interested in the attempts by the Conservative party to reach out to the LGBT vote.

Cameron went to huge lengths to pretend the Conservative party was LGBT – friendly (despite the obvious contradiction). Then it was all blown by that televised Gay Times interview and the problem of Chris Grayling and Philippa Stroud.

Cameron managed to lose the “homophobic” vote by his “reaching out” to LGBT people then he subsequently lost the LGBY people as well.

I do not think that the Conservative party would have done well to run as the Nasty Party which Tebbitt would have liked, but if they had been just dull and ordinary with a feeling of being “safe” but not very interesting, then I think they would have won. They would also have saved a fortune in advertising with just some bland leaflets and posters and cheapish PPBs.

The public don’t want to be “sold” politics in that way.

Sally @8: ” They had all Ashcroft’s money in the marginal’s”

It seriously rebounded in my constituency, a LibDem-Conservative marginal where there was a significant swing in the votes from the Conservatives to the LibDems at the Parliamentary election. The LibDem MP was returned with a bigger majority and the LibDems also made large net gains in council seats, almost all at the expense of the Conservatives

It wasn’t just me but also our current affairs discussion group who bridled at the volume of personally addressed letters we were getting from Conservative HQ, delivered in the post, not by local volunteers.

The issues were not just about the manifest extravagance of this mail delivery of election literature. It also increased our scepticism about Cameron’s notion of volunteering to create the Big Society. If the Conservatives couldn’t raise the local volunteers needed to deliver their literature, who could believe in the credibility of the Big Society stuff.

This isn’t a civil war.

It’s a two-level game that enforces boundaries during negotiation by demonstrating precommitment. The hardliners rhetoric simply reduces the win-set to which the Lib Dems must agree.

Make no mistake, Conservatives have the upper hand here, as they can form a minority government at the end of the day.

On a serious note: The analysis here seems wrong. Because Cameron HAS failed drastically to get his Party what he promised: a majority, if they went down his semi-Blairite road. They have squandered an election-winning lead in the polls, despite an epochal economic and political crisis. Their campaign was utterly inept, in so many ways, as people have pointed out in so many ways in so many places (e.g. their posters had ALL the wrong messages – “I’ll cut [the NHS]” “I’ve never voted Tory”, etc etc). And Cameron was awful in the debates – he lost the first and third to Brown and the second to Clegg, and this is only not seen because of the right-wing press in this country, which were desperate to try to deliver a majority for him, and are now understandably disappointed that he still managed to screw it up.
SO: It IS unsurprising that the Tory true-believers are wondering why they squandered their homophobia and their climate-denial and their class warfare etc. just so that they could end up kissing up to Clegg.

Can I criticise all three parties? Or would that make me deluded too?

I think the Tories are a joke for blowing the easiest election to win since World War Two, with the obvious exception of 1997. To get just 36 percent of the vote against a backdrop of a global recession, widespread press support, a major financial advantage over other parties, a 13 year incumbancy, and an insanely unlikelyable PM is frankly as much evidence as many of us need that the Tories may simply never recover from the Major years.

Labour have proven utterly incapable of recognising the divisive nature of a leader who was at best an electoral liability, and worse a block on the progressive ideas that have failed to rise through the party on his watch.

And worst of all the Lib Dems are about to completely destroy themselves as an electoral force by repelling their largely left wing support by allowing Labour’s hollow quip that a vote for clegg is a vote for cameron to become fact. Not a nasty aside. fact. Their membership will fall and their vote will abandon them to Labour to get the tories out, or the greens to ensure no similar betrayal in future.

Not one of the three parties comes out of this weith any credit. And if ever the case for significant change was made – it was this election. Sadly those parties who offered “change” are seemingly willing to stitch up the electorate so as not to have to provide it.

Oh, it’s worse than that for the LibDems. If they go into a coalition or a formal deal with the Tories, they’ll implode – & justly so. Where will their activists go? What will happen to their 23% vote? Who knows.

@32: “this is only not seen because of the right-wing press in this country, which were desperate to try to deliver a majority for him, and are now understandably disappointed that he still managed to screw it up.”

Absolutely. Just feel the sentiment in this report in The Mail in this morning’s press:

“They were sure they had it in the bag – even after the exit poll came in”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1275522/UK-ELECTION-RESULTS-2010-They-sure-bag–exit-poll-came-in.html#ixzz0nTCdSwk6

It comes cross very clearly that the Mail reporter just couldn’t understand how Conservative HQ could be so completely out of touch with reality.

Agreed with @33.

Why should we be surprised that when faced with brutal reality that Clegg eventually went crawling back to side with the politics of the privileged elite? Surely that public school education wasn’t a complete waste of money? If Clegg knows anything, he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

He has spent the entire weekend rimming his fellow public schoolboy. I wonder what ‘concessions’ he will be ‘forced’ accept from Cameron? Lets face it, he Cameron cannot offer him PR, so what is the rest of the debate about? No doubt Clegg will ‘reluctantly’ be forced to accept the value of a cut in inheritance tax, for example.

The Liberals are nothing if not a Party of principle. Alex Salmond ‘won’ the Scottish election, with a far more legitimate mandate than Cameron ever did. The SNP stood on a platform of replacing the highly regressive Council tax with a progressive local income tax. Did the Lib Dems recognise Salmond’s ‘moral right’ to Govern and put forward his programme? Of course not, they (as with all the Westminster Parties) blocked this move, so while my mother is forced to pay out over a grand a year in Council Tax, the Lib Dem MSP saved themselves 3% from an MSPs salary. Yeah very ‘principled’.

So the Lib Dem MPs are quite happy to get into bed with a Political party who hate everything they and their grass roots stand for, just so a couple of them can get a ministerial car and the whopping pay rise. I, for one, am only surprised that I am still surprised that our politicians, after all that has happened, are still mainly interested in using their fucking greedy snouts to sniff out the fancy taxpayer truffles. And to think I nearly voted for this slimy wanker. I must have been off my head.

Can someone tell me why I have wasted my entire adult life voting, when the same type of people get in no matter who we vote for?

Seriously, Why bother voting?

39. Stephen Rouse

The Tory Right’s reaction has a definite echo of Tony Benn’s claim that Labour lost in 83 because it was not left-wing enough.

However, should we be pointing out their delusion to them? Should we not be encouraging them in their belief, suggesting that they need only return to the good old days of Hague, IDS and Howard for that final push to overall victory?

Re: Jim @ 37

You’re right, you would have been off your face voting for Nick Clegg in Scotland. He’s MP for Sheffield Hallam, which is slightly outside your jurisdiction.

A tory agreement isn’t exactly against what the LDs believe in – if they don’t reach an agreement, there will be a re-election. If there’s a re-election, there won’t be any more tactical voting and people will vote either Labour or Conservative because those are the serious contenders. The LDs are, in fact, guaranteed to lose seats to the other parties in a second election, and find their power in opposition further weakened. It’s not a betrayal, it’s basic self-preservation.

Frustration is appropriate for someone in your situation, but you’re mental if you think it’s #nickcleggsfault.

The only surprising thing about the descent of the Tory party into post-election civil war is the rapidity with which it is occurring.

Sorry, but you’re going to have to do better than Lord Tebbit to make it count as a civil war. The most remarkable feature of this post-election phase has actually been the degree of discipline shown by all parties (for Labour, keeping the voices openly shouting for Brown to go down to single figures is a strong effort). There may well be behind-the-scenes anger, but it really hasn’t come out into the open yet.

I don’t count unsourced Guardian articles as being strong evidence of internal Tory politics.

Much like the Bourbons, the Tory old guard forget nothing, but learn nothing. There IS a one-nation Tory party in there somewhere, which is sane enough to realise that the path to power isn’t the pure, deep blue outfield inhabited by Hague, IDS, Howard and their even less attractive outriders, but a right of centre position which doesn’t scare the horses…. or the LD’s.

If Cameron wants power he has to convince those outside his party that he is more interested in a genuine coalition (even at the price of PR) and facing down the tub-thumping Tebbitite crazies, than he is in the cozy days of Tory/Labour duopoly.

Interesting times!

One thing in the comments here keeps bugging me. Why was this the easiest election to win since whenever? It’s not as if Labour did not try and run a campaign, and its messages (Conservatives will cut, we will not; we are the only party that can get us out of the economic mess etc) did get put around, even if they were not widely believed. However, the key point here is that these messages did in many places butress the Labour vote, people who might otherwise have stayed at home. And in our electoral system, to win certain seats (e.g. those in Coventry, Workington, any in Glasgow or Newcastle etc) you need to break the Labour block vote (the same can be said of other parties in other seats) which requires people who will only vote Labour to change their mind (see Redcar) or not to turn out (see 1983). Labour fought to get their vote out, and did manage it.

Furthermore, the scale of seats won required for an outright Conservative victory was unparalleled, so hardly easy. I thought it would happen, to be fair, but I underestimated how strong the block vote (and other valid concerns) were in some, mainly urban, areas.

As to civil war, did I notice Lord Tebbit following the Cameron line before the election? Not really, so no change there. Civil war will only follow the next election if that is not won, and it may well be in the form of a leadership contest with clearly opposing arguments about how to proceed, not in the form of constant media briefings.

One thing in the comments here keeps bugging me. Why was this the easiest election to win since whenever?

Because pushing that line makes it easier to claim that the Tories ‘lost’ this election. If you can make the story of the election ‘Tories throw away enormous lead’ then you can ignore the ‘Labour lose most seats in their history’, and the ‘Liberal Democrats fail to advance’ stories. You can also try and push the line that since everyone lost, it’s reasonable for Labour to stay in power.

I seem to remember posting here something about the Tories effectively needing a landslide victory to get a majority of one. Close but no cigar.

“Why was this the easiest election to win since whenever?”

Because of the economic crisis, the personal dislike of Gordon Brown felt by many (plus Bigotgate), the Murdoch press supporting Cameron, immigration being an issue generating hysterical headlines every day for at least 10 years (Conservatives strongest on the issue), 20 point leads in the polls less than a year ago, several major employers supporting the conservatives.

In 4 years time, circumstances are going to be different and much more favourable for Labour, providing they don’t make 1983 style mistakes.

43

“I seem to remember posting here something about the Tories effectively needing a landslide victory to get a majority of one. Close but no cigar.”

As some others have pointed out, the fact that it WAS close but no cigar ought to make some of the more thoughtful Tories pause for thought about the FPTP system. They were only close due to the system currently in place, and the current horse trading is just the kind of thing we’d have if there were electoral reform.

Planeshift.

“In 4 years time, circumstances are going to be different and much more favourable for Labour, providing they don’t make 1983 style mistakes.”

I doubt that, because if the next election is in four years time, then a Conservative/Liberal Democrat agreement/coalition has run the country for a while, averting major crises and not collapsing over contentious issues. That is to say, the two major parties who are not Labour will have probably been running the country well (or at least in a fairly harmless and non-controversial manner, which is probably the same thing).

If the agreement/coalition is not successful, the election happens much sooner, with the likelihood Labour suffers further losses (the narrative and momentum are currently firmly against it, and I am not sure the block vote will be so strong next time), especially as the two governing parties have had the opportunity to present their most friendly and positive reforms to parliament. Also, the Gordon Brown effect will be still there, even if he is no longer leader (and I still reckon that’s an if).

Incidentally, the list of factors you present explain the Conservative gains, not their failure to make more. They are historical factors explaining what happened, not things that should have produced seats (they did, last Thursday). You might judge they should have led to more seats, but history says they didn’t.

As some others have pointed out, the fact that it WAS close but no cigar ought to make some of the more thoughtful Tories pause for thought about the FPTP system. They were only close due to the system currently in place, and the current horse trading is just the kind of thing we’d have if there were electoral reform.

Why should that make the Tories pause for thought about FPTP? Tories generally approve of it as a system because it makes results like this less likely. I’d be very surprised if the Tories offer PR to the LDs as an incentive for a coalition.

47

It’s plain enough surely? Even with a biased system like ours, they have been denied a majority: it demonstrates how flawed the system is. Yes, there were other factors at work, but they can hardly use the instability of hung parliaments as the sine qua non of their opposition to PR anymore.

I’m also not saying that it will cause a Tory change of heart.. but it may start a process. I’d be surprised if the offer PR to the LD’s too at this stage…. but if the LD’s turn them down, a period of minority govt or a rainbow coalition, may change their long standing position?

(Watchman) Well yes, it probably doesn’t favour them to have another election for the next couple of years. But on the 4 year timescale it does, assume the coalition goes ahead but no electoral reform, and consider the following factors;

1. The economy, if it goes well then the lib dems get to claim credit as much as the tories for doing the “national unity thing”. In particular, the raising of the personal allowance will be seen as the lib dem’s prize. If it goes badly, then the 4 years of spending cuts, with their inevitable effect on front-line services, play directly into labour’s hands. Expect this to be even more the case if city bonuses continue whilst poor people die on hospital trolleys (yeah exaggeration, but thats the way it will be used)

2. Immigration – immigration (particularly A8) has gone down over the last couple of years, and there is no reason why this trend won’t continue. Whilst this means Cameron will try to claim credit for it, it also means the issue falls down the table – particularly as the press stop printing innacurate stories on it. Therefore core suporters return to labour .

3. A new leader of the labour party – this gives them the Fresh Start they need to distance themselves from Brown (the Iraq factor reduces as well).

4. Labour/Lib dem marginals go back to Labour as Lib Dems lose anti-tory tactical voting.

There is a caveat here though, the new leader needs to avoid moving to the extremes like 1983 and maintain occupation of the centre ground.

Even with a biased system like ours, they have been denied a majority: it demonstrates how flawed the system is. Yes, there were other factors at work, but they can hardly use the instability of hung parliaments as the sine qua non of their opposition to PR anymore.

I’d have thought the opposite – at least in argumental terms. Once (if) this is all over, the line would go as follows:

‘Jeeze that was a mess. The shining era of new politics resulted in three days of men in suits holding meetings behind closed doors to determine who the Government should be. Hell, at least with FPTP this only happens every 40 years – with PR we can expect this every bloody election.’

And FPTP is biased against the Tories. Hence the reason that they got more votes and a higher proportion of the vote than Blair in 2005 and ended short of a majority. Hence also the reason that Brown got far fewer votes and a lower proportion of the vote than Major in 97 and still got nearly 260 seats.

50

No, because the shining era of new politics did no such thing. In spite of the deeply corrupt system we now have, we have come close to fracturing the system: not as close as many of us would have liked, but those are the breaks.

Anti-PR people in both the Tory and Labour parties often use the instability argument as a major point in their opposition…. so in argumental terms, the fact that our current FPTP system has produced the current situation undermines that aspect of their position: simple really.

The Tories are so convinced because they want to retain a duopoly of power, and the status quo ante. How’s that worked out for us?

My, my the tory trolls are getting very desperate..

They blew their chance through their usual arrogance. They thought they would be able to come on here lording it over us in their usual born to lead style.

The fact is they only managed 36% of the vote, and only 39% , in what they have been telling us arrogantly for the last 5 years is “tory England.” They are dishonest to admit that they cling to FPTP because it enables them to win power on a fraction of the vote. As usual with all tories they confuse what is in the country’ s interest, to what is in their own greedy interest. Notice how the phrase ‘in the national interest ’ has suddenly become the line that is spun by all the tory newspapers.

No ,Clegg should give call me Dave all the rope he needs to hang himself. Let him form a govt and let him set a budget. Then lets sit back and watch all the nuts, and Christian Taliban loons show themselves to the public.

No, because the shining era of new politics did no such thing…

I was using that as a shortcut for ‘period shortly after an election which has produced no clear winner, but leaves the Liberal Democrats as kingmakers in determining who is Prime Minister and on what grounds despite coming a poor third in votes and a very poor third in seats’. It just seems less cumbersome.

It’s still open – the public may like a week’s wrangling after every election to find out who’s won. If so, I’m sure they’d vote overwhelmingly in favour of a party-list PR system. Or a d’Hondt based regional list one. Or AV, or AV+ or PRsquared. Or whatever. That way we could have this sort of fun all the time.

If it turns out that people don’t like it, then it may be that FPTP – which has after all produced two hung Parliaments in 35 years – could be seen to have some advantages after all.

55. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Watchman a number of points
1. The conservative party more than the 2 other parties is a collection of many right wing parties ( economic and social libertarian, fundamentalist christian, paleoconservatives, little englander, neoconservatives, pro euro christian democrats, UKIP lovers, Pinochetphiles ). They are kept together because they hate the left. The common enemy. A party that contains both Michael Green and David Sullivan are on a collision course. Take the left away, there is not that coalition.
You fear PR because of the split of the Tory party that will eventually arise.
“I doubt that, because if the next election is in four years time, then a Conservative/Liberal Democrat agreement/coalition has run the country for a while, averting major crises and not collapsing over contentious issues. That is to say, the two major parties who are not Labour will have probably been running the country well (or at least in a fairly harmless and non-controversial manner, which is probably the same thing).”
I agree but that means nothing to the electorate because there will be mistakes and all governments are unpopular.

If the agreement/coalition is not successful, the election happens much sooner, with the likelihood Labour suffers further losses (the narrative and momentum are currently firmly against it, and I am not sure the block vote will be so strong next time), especially as the two governing parties have had the opportunity to present their most friendly and positive reforms to parliament. Also, the Gordon Brown effect will be still there, even if he is no longer leader (and I still reckon that’s an if).
There will not be another election because it is not in Labours interest. YET.

Incidentally, the list of factors you present explain the Conservative gains, not their failure to make more. They are historical factors explaining what happened, not things that should have produced seats (they did, last Thursday). You might judge they should have led to more seats, but history says they didn’t.
Martin Kettle wrote in the Guardian it a was victory for Cameron not the conservatives.
Also it was defeat for Labour, we lost over 90 seats it was the worst result since 1931.
Hopefully the Labour party will concentrate on ideas on civil liberties and ideas to distribute welath and power.
Also Watch man , I am getting a little tired of this tribal statement only applied to Labour.
Most tribal voters are the Tories.
I have never met a young Tory who turns to left late in life.
I have met many who were left wing firebrands in their youth but now are Tory diehards in middle age.

56. Nick Cohen is a Tory

If it turns out that people don’t like it, then it may be that FPTP – which has after all produced two hung Parliaments in 35 years – could be seen to have some advantages after all.
But isn’t that the problem. It always make me laugh that anti state libertarians always want strong governments.
Surely that has been the problem. Arrogant and unresponsive to public concerns. Tory and Labour push through legislation that erode civil liberty.
Surely coalition provides a defence against that arrogance.
Look a countries who are use to PR, such as Germany. Are they are better or worst than the UK but at least their public feels more connected to their politicians.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Sheryl Odlum

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  2. LCW

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  3. Raincoat Optimism

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  4. Damien

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  5. richdavidson

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  6. Nicholas Stewart

    #LiberalConspiracy Cameron’s Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://is.gd/c1wi6

  7. Geoff Owen

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  8. Vicky

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  9. Andrew Barnes

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  10. Jenni Jackson

    RT @libcon Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm < brilliant!!

  11. schmoodub

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  12. Andrew Ducker

    Tory party apparently already tearing itself apart. Please pass the popcorn. http://bit.ly/a1Wrl4

  13. Jane Brain

    Liberal Conspiracy » Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/bsACJ4

  14. Jonathan Webber

    Nice piece on the craziness of Cameron's critics within the Tory ranks: http://bit.ly/bDpUH0 #ge2010 #ukelection #tories

  15. Jose Casal

    Interesting analysis of the #Tory position. RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/bvlQai #ukelection

  16. Alex Gough

    Tories deserve to govern but are acting like entitled children. Ashcroft didn't get what he paid for, and that's that. http://bit.ly/8ZMUv6

  17. Liberal Conspiracy

    Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  18. Left Outside

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  19. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  20. Bryn Tittle

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  21. LiberalLabour

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  22. Gareth Winchester

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm <- see Daniel Kawczynski's RatWiki profile http://is.gd/c1uyh

  23. sdv_duras

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  24. Juke de Haan

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  25. Ian Carnegie

    RT @libcon: Cameron's Tory critics are deluded beyond belief http://bit.ly/aXYwcm

  26. Pod Wangler

    Didn't take long for the inevitable Tory civil war to start rumbling. http://bit.ly/bNtPZL

  27. Has Cameron acheived the biggest gain in seats in 80 years? « Left Outside

    […] Richard Blogger comments: In 80 years, really? Oh so the 147 seats that Blair won (and the 171 that Major lost) did not […]

  28. Alex Gough

    Tories deserve to govern, but stoped acting entitled. Ashcroft didn't get what he paid for, we got what we voted for. http://bit.ly/8ZMUv6

  29. Simon Proctor

    I've been reading: http://is.gd/c2mdG Hmm, here's a thought. Let the Tories tear themselves apart before the next election…

  30. links for 2010-05-10 « Embololalia

    […] Liberal Conspiracy » Cameron’s Tory critics are deluded beyond belief Cameron has run the party via a tiny clique, and he has ignored backbenchers. And the Big Society idea was a load of “crap”, and no doubt it was completely unsellable on the doorsteps. But what’s amazing about these Tory discontents is their sheer myopia. […]





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