Are the Tories incapable of change?

Are the Tories incapable of change?


    Why my money remains on Labour for the general election

A good piece by Daniel Finkelstein in the Times this morning sets out lucidly something I have been planing to touch on for a week and which will almost certainly decide the next election. For is the Tory party capable of changing itself so it can become electable again?

For while the leadership has made big steps in evolving the way Tories present themselves will the party be able to fight an election if what is coming from the leadership is abhorrent to many Tory MPs, councillors and activists?

    Until now I have taken the view that the prospect of ousting Labour is so tempting that Conservatives would almost do anything that the Cameron team wanted in order to achieve victory. Now I’m not so sure. Tories don’t appear to be hungry enough yet.

If reluctant Labour supporters were prepared to vote “with a peg on their noses” in to ensure victory in 2005 why are the Conservative different?

A massive problem is that the memory of Maggie is still very strong. For large parts of the party she is the reference point of what is required for victory. Yet the world has moved on since then and if Gordon Brown manages to recreate the consensus that made Labour acceptable to large swathes of middle England in 1997 and 2001 then the Tories are lumbered.

This is from Finkelstein’s Times column: “…you don’t have to have a PhD in political strategy to realise that the Conservative Party now has to change. It has to compromise many of its long-held opinions in order to get some new people, people who are uncomfortable with existing Tory policy, to join in and give it support. It has to broaden its coalition. A lot. It simply can’t win, or even come close to winning….Simple, yes? But so many Tories still don’t seem to understand…Amazingly, hilariously, petulantly, tragically, doltishly, persistently, bizarrely, infuriatingly, arrogantly, obtusely, fantastically, so many Conservatives appear to believe that no compromise, or at least very little, is needed. Yes, in theory, they accept the need for change. It’s just that in practice they oppose every compromise with reality and the voters that anyone suggests.”

This seems to hit the nail on the head and you have to ask yourself whether project Cameron can succeed. For the response of may Tories to this argument is that there is no point winning if you cannot implement traditional Tory policies. It maybe will take a fourth general election disaster for the party to change.

  • My general election betting:Thanks to the wonders of credit account spread betting I’ve already pocketed some profits on the next general election without having to stump up any cash now. A fortnight ago I turned round my position on the Spreadfair Commons seat market. I had sold at 277 Labour seats in March and closed down the bet at a profit. I then “bought” Labour at 271.2. Even though the price has now shifted up a bit I think I’ll be putting more on.
  • Mike Smithson

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