Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’

Has Corbyn’s elastic stretched as far as it can?

10/06/2017, 04:43:03 PM

by John Wall

Although the dust from the general election is yet to settle and there is much ink still to be spilt it’s clear that, despite the claims of the Corbynistas, Project Corbyn has reached its limit.

Go back a couple of years and Corbyn’s path to Downing Street was essentially predicated on two principles. The first was non-voters, in the hope that they’d support Labour, and the second was attracting fellow travellers on the left, effectively a so-called progressive alliance.

The naysayers countered with analyses contending that these wouldn’t provide sufficient extra support and that a majority could only be secured by attracting Conservative voters.

If we look at the headline figures the two main parties together secured approaching 85% of the vote, a significant increase since the about 67% in 2015 and a massive consequential squeeze on the smaller parties.

Then there was the large increase in turnout by the key, for Corbyn, 18-24 age group.

Notwithstanding the above, and despite a poor campaign, the Conservative vote and percentage share increased, and Labour are still more than sixty seats short of a majority.

It’s clear that, overall, few Conservatives were attracted to Labour and, considering Corbyn’s extremely unsavoury baggage and economic incontinence, this isn’t particularly surprising.

It may, of course, be possible to squeeze the minor parties a little more, but the share of the two main parties is at its highest since about 1970, and perhaps some more 18-24 year olds can be enticed by giveaways, but Lord Ashcroft reckons that two thirds voted for Labour, so these avenues must now be subject to the law of diminishing returns.

Whenever the next election is the Conservatives will have learned the lessons of 2017, simple things like a few devil’s advocates involved in writing the manifesto. There might even be a new leader, it’s a party that is only interested in winning and winners, with no place for sentiment.

Everything went Corbyn’s way but he still fell a long way short. His position is secure, and Labour will now probably be refashioned in his likeness, but that will not attract Conservative voters and will keep them as far from power as ever.

John Wall is a former member of the Conservatives

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Election 1997 20th anniversary: Fear and loathing in Conservative Central Office

01/05/2017, 10:55:57 PM

In a series of pieces, Uncut writers look back at election day 1997. Mark Stockwell was a staffer at Conservative Central Office.

Twenty-odd points behind in the polls. Divided, discredited, and despised. Doomed to defeat, a whole generation of talent set to be swept aside in an electoral tsunami from the south of England to the highlands of Scotland, and all points between.

That was the situation facing the Conservative Party on 1 May 1997. And although the eventual share of the vote was closer than the polls suggested, the impact in terms of seats won and lost was every bit as devastating.

In the early hours of the morning of 2 May, as the scale of Tony Blair’s victory became clear, a small crowd of ‘well-wishers’ gathered outside the then Tory HQ. Some maintain that they were chanting “You’re out and you know you are” (to the tune of ‘Go West’). From inside the Smith Square bunker, I think it was the more traditional football-terrace lyrics I could hear. And while some were outraged at this impertinence, and still shocked at what had unfolded during the course of the night, a good deal more were inclined to shrug and think to themselves, “fair enough”. Eighteen years of Conservative rule had come to a shattering end and those who had hastened its demise were in no mood for an insincere display of magnanimity.

Earlier, preparing to hunker down for a sleepless night of election coverage and (let’s be honest) steady drinking, a few Central Office staffers in the ‘war room’ had printed off a list of marginal seats and pinned it to the wall in order to keep track of the results as we went along. (Even the memory of this quaint, paper-based approach seems to tinge the whole scene with sepia. I don’t think we even had Excel in those days.)

After a handful of early results had filtered through, the extent of the swing to Labour and the patterns of tactical voting had become obvious. A few of us began to exchange anxious glances. I can’t recall exactly who said it first, or at what stage in proceedings, but pretty soon the conclusion was unavoidable: “We’re going to need to print out another sheet.” And pretty soon, another one. I recalled the words of Pitt the Younger on hearing of Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz: “Roll up the map; we will not be needing it these ten years.”


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If the Tories are to be beaten, Labour and the Lib Dems need to start working together

07/03/2016, 09:36:35 PM

by George Kendall

2015 was a disaster for the centre-left.

The Liberal Democrats lost a swathe of seats to the Tories. Moderate Labour members lost their party to the far left. Some are in despair, and are considering withdrawal from politics, perhaps to return once a viable moderate opposition to the Tories is re-established.

However, under first-past-the-post, such an opposition isn’t inevitable. Post-war Japan was run by a single right-wing party, almost continuously for fifty years. Nothing is forever, but, if we wait for change, we may wait a very long time.

Do we want to see the Conservatives in power for decades? If that happens, step by step they will shrink the state and cut taxes for the rich. They will edge the country ever closer to a dog-eat-dog capitalism where the rich enjoy fabulous wealth, but the poor endure desperate insecurity. It would not happen overnight, but it could happen.

The far left believe if they control the opposition, it is inevitable that they will eventually take power.

In a perfect storm, with a recession, and if Tories have an unpopular leader and are divided over a controversial policy, it might be possible, but I think it is very unlikely. Even in 1992, when the country was in recession after thirteen years of Tory rule, the Conservatives still won.

However, even if the far left are right about eventually winning power, it would be a disaster. Having raised unrealistic expectations, they would be hit by the harsh reality of our need to trade in a competitive world, and they would damage our economic and our finances by trying to square the impossible. Perhaps worse, their attitude to the USA and NATO would undermine our alliances, just at a time when new powers are emerging which have no respect for the principles of liberal democracy. They would then be decisively defeated, to be followed by another lengthy period of Tory hegemony.


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What, if anything, could Labour learn from Canada’s Liberals?

21/10/2015, 10:05:55 PM

by Frazer Loveman

The election results came in and the nation’s main left wing party, one that had held power for much of the 1990s and early 21st century was humiliated, defeated again by a Conservative party led by an excellent political manipulator. Sound familiar? This was the fate of the Canadian Liberal party at the 2011 Federal Elections, as they saw themselves left with only 34 seats, relegated to third party status following the New Democratic party’s huge boost in support. Yet, today, the Liberal Party have been restored, back in power winning 184 ridings, far more than many pollsters predicted (being a pollster these days must not be much fun). This has led many on the UK left to fully embrace ‘Trudeaumania’, as PM-designate Justin Trudeau has found himself to have become the doyenne of the left seemingly overnight (sorry, Bernie Sanders, but there’s a younger model now).

But could the Labour party realistically mirror the success of the Liberals in Canada? Well, if they intend to, then they’re not necessarily off to the best start. Trudeau wasn’t elected as leader until nearly two years after the 2011 election as the party re-grouped under interim leader Bob Rae, a stark contrast to the Labour party’s immediate and interminable leadership contest. In fairness, Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election mirrored that of Trudeau in size (Trudeau steamrollered all competition, winning 78.86% of the vote) but that is about where the similarities end. Trudeau is as much an ‘establishment’ candidate as can possibly be imagined, the surname alone gives that away, and was shown during the Liberal leadership contest to be the candidate most likely to win support across the whole of Canada. He is young, good-looking and an exemplary public speaker- his speeches in the leadership contest would consist of 3 minute ‘blocks’ that he could link together as and when needed to suit situation and audience, almost ad-libbing whole speeches (contrast: “strong delivery here”).


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The Conservative view: There’s no doubt, Liz Kendall is the candidate that Tories fear

20/07/2015, 01:22:09 PM

by Matthew Plummer

Life since our epic victory on May 8th has been a bit like recovering from Christmas lunch – having gorged myself on Christmas pudding, goose (of course) and canvassing I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm for things like charades, EVEL and reform of the Human Rights Act. But I was jolted out of the obligatory post-election / Queen’s Speech snooze when my local MP Sadiq Khan livened things up by nominating Jeremy Corbyn for your leadership contest.

Corbyn’s opposition to PFI and the Iraq War always struck me as principled and decent, but politically he makes Ed Miliband look like pure box-office. So when the midday deadline for nominations passed tribalism duly kicked in: I downloaded my ‘Corbyn for Leader’ twibbon (apparently that’s how you lefties do things) and began to tweet excitedly about Brother Jeremy. Although being really honest I can’t say I had any intention of parting with the £3 needed to become a registered supporter of the Labour Party – #JezWeCan and your open primary didn’t seem like my business.

And your leadership options aren’t exactly inspiring. Andy Burnham was in charge of the nation’s purse strings when the public finances started to run out of control and – uncomfortably for him – he failed to act decisively over the Mid-Staffs abuse scandal when he was Secretary of State for Health. His schtick is scaremongering about Tory privatisation of the NHS. Good luck with that: we are pro-market because we believe that is the way to drive up care standards, which is perhaps why Burnham himself oversaw the privatisation of Hinchinbrooke Hospital.


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What if the conservatives move…left?

10/04/2015, 06:30:18 PM

by Joe Reddington

Let us consider the popular (and backed by the data) narrative.  Large numbers of former conservative voters are ‘defecting’ to UKIP, which they believe better represents their views.  UKIPs policies are somewhat significantly to the right of the conservatives, even if there is a perception difference, and it is clear from the polling data that it’s a certain type of conservative that is switching.

The average conservative voter in 2015 is younger, more urban, less likely to own a house, more likely to be non-white, and more likely to have a degree than the average conservative voter of 2010 (see here, p15).  We can then infer that they are also less pension-obsessed, more much likely to be pro-(at least neutral on) Europe, much more likely to favour things like equal rights to marriage, adoption and social care than the average conservative voter of 2010.

Now answer this.  Given the group that is *leaving* the Conservative party, who are the remainder? We see that the Conservative leadership has lurched somewhat to the right in an attempt (and it may be working to a small extent) to stop the bleeding.  But it remains to see what happens if it becomes clear that those voters are staying with UKIP.  The thought that should be keeping Labour strategists up at night is this: what if the new Conservatives listen to their thinned down membership and move left?


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Is Batman really a conservative?

18/07/2012, 01:55:56 PM

by Anthony Painter

Robert Colville argues zestfully that Batman is a conservative in this morning’s Telegraph. My first reaction was that it’s a strange type of conservative that so flagrantly disregards the rule of law. The whole point of the vigilante, Batman, is that the law cannot protect itself. Therefore, it needs shadowy figures who operate outside of it to save society from itself. It trashes the whole notion of rule of law – it’s difficult to think of anything less conservative than that.

It might well be that Batman seeks conservative ends – order, hierarchy, defined social relations, rule by status. But the means are distinctly non-conservative.

In the Dark Knight he establishes a private panopticon in order to defeat the terrorist, the Joker. Sure, he hands over the access to this system to Lucius Fox, his wise and principled technologist. Access is given not to prevent its use but to facilitate its use – he just doesn’t entirely trust himself. Fox ultimately destroys the system but that’s not at Batman’s instruction.

There are definite signs in the same film that Batman aspires to conservative means as well as ends – he just can’t quite trust them. He wishes to get out of the game and hand over safeguarding of the city’s welfare to Harvey Dent, Gotham’s energetic District Attorney. We are not sure whether he’s thinking straight as this has the advantage of clearing the way to him re-opening his pursuit of Rachel Dawes (who refuses to countenance a marriage to Bruce Wayne while he is still playing at Batman.) Nonetheless, he enthusiastically embraces Dent as a figure who can restore the rule of law.

It all goes terribly wrong as Dent is turned by the Joker into the gruesome Two-Face. In a Michael Corleone fashion, just when he hoped he might be out, Batman is pulled back in. Dent is the greatest hope for the law being able to take care of itself. It fails and so the vigilante is needed once again. Upon, Dent’s death, Batman conspires with Commissioner Gordon to take the blame for murders perpetrated by Two-Face (Dent) as the people of Gotham would not be able to cope with the crimes of their latest saviour, Dent. Propaganda is not beyond our conservative super-hero.

So our Batman is a conservative who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. He is a protector of liberty who wants to turn every mobile phone into a recording, imaging and tracking device. He upholds a people’s values by manufacturing reality. If he is a conservative then it would appear that he’s a conservative in the George W Bush mould.


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How the mighty are fallen

03/10/2011, 09:10:35 AM

by Tom Harris

Annabel Goldie is a nice woman. She is intelligent, likeable and formidable in almost perfect proportion. And it is a cruel irony that only in a pre-devolution era could Annabel ever have been considered as a serious candidate for the post of Scotland’s first minister.

In the week when she delivers her swan song as Scottish Tory leader to her party conference, she will have cause to reflect on the past and future of the party she has led since 2005. And to consider whether or not it actually has a future.

And as my own party continues to come to terms with our defeat in our heartlands and whether or not we have a future, we might feel a twinge of sympathy with Annabel.

A feeling common to us both is frustration. There are capable, principled people in both our parties who continue to be denied ministerial office. In our case we hold out hope that the drought might end in four years’ time. For the Tories things are even worse; barring some unprecedented political earthquake or extinction-level event such as a collision with a stray asteroid, they are doomed to be neither the largest party in Holyrood nor the preferred coalition partner of any other party – even the Scottish Lib Dems wouldn’t be seen talking to them publicly. Things in the playground are rough indeed when even the weird kid who eats stuff for money won’t play with you.

The frustration of opposition is part and parcel of democratic politics, but we’re the Scottish Labour Party, for crying out loud. Scotland is where we weighed votes, went the old (and wrong) received wisdom. Annabel’s frustration has the same root: hers is the only party ever to win an actual majority of the popular vote in Scotland (50.1 per cent in 1955, for the anoraks among you). And now? (more…)

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Snapper and film maker u-turn, what about the rest of them? Tom Watson wants answers

16/11/2010, 01:42:10 PM


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Chris Kelly and the young game cockerel: caption contest

25/08/2010, 10:29:17 AM

The Conservative MP for the seat of Dudley South is the millionaire heir to the Keltruck haulage fortune, Chris Kelly.

After barely two months in Parliament, he took the opportunistic photo intervention to new places on 16 July.

Some small children having “found a young game cockerel”, Kelly turned up at their school with his camera to rescue the situation. His press release tells us that he “enjoyed showing the cockerel to the reception class and went to lengths to explain to the children his knowledge of chickens.”

The man is a genius.

One Conservative colleague described him as “the most self-promoting man, including all politicians, that I have ever seen”.

We must not let him out of our sight.

In the meantime, what is Chris saying to the young game cockerel, or vice versa?

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