Posts Tagged ‘Tory modernisation’

UKIP’s barbarians have smashed through the castle gates

03/05/2013, 01:47:23 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Amid the whirl of results from South Shields and the English counties, we learned two important things about how the government (Conservative bit) will now approach the next election.

The first is that the Downing Street communications grid is back in operation. The underperforming political machine has been fine-tuned and a new focus has clearly been brought to bear.

Too late to have had the desired effect in the local elections, but we have nevertheless seen a carefully crafted slew of announcements this week, weaponised to help sharpen up the Conservatives’ brand. On Monday it was a crackdown on prisoners’ perks. On Tuesday it was talk of reducing immigrants’ access to public services. On Wednesday, aid cuts to South Africa.

This improvement in the Tories’ political operation and the themes they have chosen to concentrate on is a direct response to this week’s second notable development; they are now terrified about the damage UKIP can now do to them on their right flank.

Once breezily dismissed by David Cameron as a collection of ‘fruitcakes loonies and closet racists’, UKIP has now moved from an existential to actual threat, eating up traditional Tory support and splitting the centre-right vote elsewhere. Many Tories didn’t think this day would actually come, but it is clear UKIP’s barbarians have at last smashed through the castle gates.

Today’s result does not feel like a sudden spike. It’s more like the atrophying of our political system where room is now being opened for new players to capitalise on voters’ unease around issues the mainstream parties simply refuse to engage with.


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Whip’s notebook: We are witnessing the death throes of the Cameron modernisation project

22/01/2013, 07:00:26 AM

by Jon Ashworth

I was a junior bag carrier in the in the dog days of the last Labour government. I remember too well the attempted coups; the sacked ministers seeking vengeance and the general air of resignation. My heart sank every time another MP in a marginal seat announced their retirement. Many of these MPs had been in the political frontline for 20 years plus and were no doubt genuine in wanting to move on but it inevitably of course contributed to a general sense we were in decline.

But this was a party which by 2010 had been in power for 13 long difficult years. Our Tory opponents were on their fourth leader and sixth shadow chancellor while the Lib Dems were on their fourth Leader too. By 2007 the Tory Party was spending huge amount of energy mimicking Labour election winning tactics in an effort to box off their deep seated weaknesses. So in a nod to Gordon Brown’s commitment in 1997 to match Ken Clarke’s overall spending levels, Osborne and Cameron made a similar pledge declaring support for every penny piece of Labour spending – not something they like to be reminded of now of course.

Fast forward to 2013 we are just over two and half years into David Cameron’s government. The Sunday Times this weekend informed us that an increasing number of backbenchers are privately discussing the possibility of attempting to unseat the prime minister before the poll in 2015 if the party continues to trail in the polls.

Meanwhile Labour MPs are enjoying the increasingly colourful outbursts from sacked ex-minister Tim Loughton who last week said of his former boss Michel Gove that,

“most officials have never met the secretary of state other than when he’ll troop out a few chosen people for the new year party, Mr Grace-like, tell us ‘you’ve all done very well’ then disappear. That’s no way to run an important department. It is terribly anachronistic, terribly bureaucratic, terribly formal.”


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