Tuesday, September 30, 2014

David Cameron has lost his way and the Tories should split

I have read two good articles today on the problems facing David Cameron and the Conservatives.

Alex Massie writes about how David Cameron has lost his way:
What is David Cameron for? What kind of party, what kind of government, does he want to lead? If he knows, he’s done a grand job keeping his thoughts to himself. 
And yet there were once ideas. There was compassionate conservatism and the Big Society. There was the Global Race. Nor were these necessarily contradictory. A reformed, retooled, Britain is necessary to leave Britain better placed to thrive in the years ahead; that doesn’t mean rejecting social solidarity – social decency – at home. On the contrary, the two could be woven together. 
Events matter. Of course they do. But they need not – at least not necessarily – knock a government off-course. Cameron was elected as a new kind of Tory but, too often, has governed as just another Tory. He has counterfeited his own promise.
And Ian Birrell has a radical idea for curing the party's malaise:
The failure to learn the lessons of the past by banging on endlessly about benefits, Europe and immigration is astonishing. There needs to be more, not less, modernisation. Instead, the Tories focus fruitlessly on these fearful older voters largely lost to Ukip, an inevitably declining sector of the electorate, while reinforcing an image that drives away the younger, female and ethnic minority voters needed to survive and thrive as a political force. 
Ultimately, the question is not why are these MPs defecting, but why do politicians with such divergent views stick together? Perhaps politics is going through a process of disruption similar to that driven by technology in almost every other aspect of life. It does seem absurd to expect our tired model of binary party politics to endure in a time of transparency, with all that tedious tribalism and parroting of lines. 
In the short term, the Tories must decide either to offer an optimistic vision of the future or just pander to the pessimists in a probably doomed bid to win the election. 
Beyond that, it is hard not to wonder if these divisions need to be resolved with a cathartic full-blown split, as with Labour in the early 1980s – although this time it would be the militant tendency on the flank shearing off. As always in politics, there are egos and personal vanities in play. Yet what really binds the many decent and tolerant conservatives to those misanthropes filled with fear and rage against modernity?


Tim (Kalyr) said...

Trouble is there are two different strands of the Tory party, and both are just as bad. There's the reactionary social authoritarians motivated by swivel-eyed xenophobia. Then there are the capitalism red in tooth and claw libertarians. I jokingly refer to them as "Lawful Evil" and "Chaotic Evil" after the Dungeons and Dragons alignments, but that does underline how they differ.

Phil Beesley said...

If I were a Conservative, I would not be sure about Ian Birrell's bid for women's votes on the basis of "modernisation".

In the Scottish Referendum, women were more likely to vote against independence. Women are more likely to vote for Labour, according to a series of opinion polls; qualitative surveys suggest that women prefer the status quo when men might take more risk (or endure modernisation). Apologies for generalisation about attitudes on a single parameter (sex).

Phil Beesley said...

Tim (Kaylr): "There's the reactionary social authoritarians motivated by swivel-eyed xenophobia. Then there are the capitalism red in tooth and claw libertarians."

Apart from them, we have you to consider.