Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chris Heaton-Harris shows David Cameron's weakness

The Conservative leadership has already announced that Chris Heaton-Harris will not face disciplinary action after apparently encouraging James Delingpole to stand as an anti-wind-farm candidate in the Corby by-election.

Which is odd, particularly when you learn that Heaton-Harris is the agent for the Tory candidate Christine Emmett.

This failure to act looks like a reflection of David Cameron's weakness as Conservative leader. He is now openly despised by the party's right wing and dare not move against one of their favourite sons. The Guardian, incidentally, is also suggesting that the energy minister John Hayes may have had knowledge of the plan. Certainly, wind farms stands second only to Europe in the list of the Tory right's obsessions.

Heaton-Harris, of course, did not want to see Delingpole stand and take votes of his Conservative candidate/ He wanted him to say he was standing, make the issue of wind farms a prominent one in the campaign and, having done so, pull out.

This confirms a couple of things.

The first is that the Conservative right still thinks that its pet causes are shared by the electorate as a whole. Wind farms are controversial (though not, I suspect, as controversial as the Tory right believes), but they certainly stand lower in the list of voters' concerns than the economy.

And even where voters share the Tory right's view, the strength with which the right holds that view can make them seem a little strange and put voters off. This was the real problem with the party banging on about Europe under Cameron's predecessors.

The second is that Heaton-Harris and his allies are not as clever as they think (which is very clever indeed). I am reminded of Grant Shapps and his problems with the internet.

The irony of all this is that Heaton-Harris's candidate Christine Emmett lives in a windmill.

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