Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tories Dying On Their Knees?

In the Telegraph today we have Brogan warning that the Tory party is in danger of dying on its knees:
Ministers are becoming more pessimistic, devoting an increasing amount of time – quite naturally – to considering which way they would jump in a post-election leadership contest that grows ever more likely. Even more fearful are those in marginal seats, some of whom have already thrown in the towel and are planning for life after defeat.
It's astute of him to eventually notice I guess given that it has been a process in place since the early '90s. But thankfully we have the paid Daily Telegraph's Deputy Editor to point out the obvious.

The Tories of course have never won an outright election victory since the passing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. That combined with the ERM crisis precipitated a collapse in membership and donations from which they have never recovered. Even under Cameron's leadership membership numbers has officially halved - the true figure strongly rumoured to be below the 100,000 mark.

Brogan is naturally concerned that the Tories will lose the next election. First up is a variation of the theme "we're not getting our message across":
First, he must make the economic case that, in his words, the job is not done. That is why Mr Osborne struck what must be the right note in an interview on Sunday with Andrew Marr, speaking about the need to reduce both taxes and the cost of government. He believed, he said, in “the affordable state”. That message to the country must be coupled, however, with one to his colleagues. He has to convince his own side that he and David Cameron are worth following from now until polling day
The apparent good news on the economy is not leading to optimisim within the Tory party regarding winning in 2015, which Brogan writes with puzzlement:
Given how well things are going relative to expectations less than a year ago, the pessimism I have encountered in recent days is striking. A number of top-half Cabinet ministers tell me they now expect to lose power in 2015. Middle-rankers mutter the same. It is difficult to find Conservatives willing to say privately that they will still be in power after polling day.
Then what follows is frustration articulated in the form of analysis by Brogan of the reasons why; conflicting, incoherent and confused tactics of the Tory party over economic strategy. Thus he supports a return to the core economic strategy when Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement 2013 on Thursday:
The Chancellor’s aides insist that the dirty work of defusing the Labour threat has been done, and that Thursday will represent a clean return to the core Tory strategy. Now he just has to persuade his own side of that.
In other words, Brogan is using, without explicitly saying it, the old standby of; "it's the economy stupid". This was a phrase coined by Clinton campaign during his successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. The problem is it's one of those phrases and subsequent election strategies that is often rolled out lazily but doesn't actually always translate into election wins, particularly in this country.

This fallacy is evident in 1992 when Major won the election against the backdrop of one of the worst recessions of the 20th century. Conversley five years later the Tories lost by a humiliating margin, despite much improvement in the economy - Major campaigned on the theme "Britain's booming, don't let Labour ruin it". When Brown was told of the economic legacy the Tories handed over he allegedly retorted; "what do you want me to do? Send them a thank you card?"

In 2005 as far as Labour was concerned:
..."it was the economy, stupid". By standing shoulder to shoulder with Blair, Brown, the chancellor and heir apparent, helped Labour to a third term by highlighting Labour's economic achievements - low unemployment, low interest rates, decent economic growth.
Yet Labour lost 94 seats, a loss of seats attributed largely to Blair taking us to war in Iraq. And then we come to 2010. The Tories were unable to win despite the dire state of the economy, yet it wasn't the economy and the banking crisis that did Brown in, it was the "election that never was".

Thus it's clear to see that there are many other factors in elections, and party's fortunes than the economy but that doesn't stop Brogan taking comfort in resolving the Tories' lack of a coherent message over economic matters to win in 2015.

Not once does he acknowledge other possible reasons for the Tories' collapse such as; cast iron, gay marriage, humiliation by the Chinese, the veto that never was, failed immigration promises, lies on the Norway option, HS2, a three-line whip imposed on his party against an EU referendum only to change his mind and promise one he cannot deliver on, trying to take us to war in Syria, flip-flopping on green policy, VAT on pasties, the electoral disaster that was the PCC elections, escalating fuel bills - the list is endless, not bad for a party that hasn't even served a full five year term yet.

But cocooned in bubble wrap Brogan is either unwilling to acknowledge or unaware of the fundamental problems. Not that Labour is any better either. A more accurate headline would be "Parliament is dying on its knees?

But then I'm only a humble blogger and Brogan is Deputy Editor of the Telegraph so what do I know?


  1. Brogan doesn't mention something that's always uppermost in my mind - can Cameron (or anyone in his inner circle) be trusted to be honest? - and not only to tell the truth, but to tell the whole truth?

  2. Peter Hitchens had a fairly interesting article a few days ago in which, if you'd survived to the conclusion, hints at where the problems may lie.

    ....' John Gummer is on the Heathite wing of the Tory Party, especially on EU issues. But people at this level of professional politics often do not have much interest in policies as such, or in the struggle between competing ideas. Office for people like them is what they want.

    It also, in my view, shows that the Major version of the Tory Party, a largely depoliticised machine for winning office, survived the Hague and IDS era and has now reasserted itself. But how times have changed since 1997. Now they can only hope to keep the Tories in being. Presumably ready for the new era of proportional representation which the Lib-Lab Coalition of 2015-2020 is likely to bring in.;...


    Brogan is a bizarre character to study if you approach him as if he were a newspaper figure - but he's not. The stories were fairly well established at the time and have not been denied, but the stories as such identified him as having been the preferred Cameron placeman to install at the Telegraph, when the inconvenient and wholly Cameron-hostile Simon Heffer was identified for replacement by the Cameron clique.

    It encapsulates in a very commonplace comment around the bazaars - almost obligatory among Cameron supporters in the DT, and a recent strategy allegedly enforced by Lynton Crosby. 'Vote UKIP, get Labour'. Take away the specific UKIP theme for now, it's a declaration that the Conservatives believe they have an entitlement to anti-Labour votes. That it is the responsibility - even obligation - of the mere voter to bring in a Government which has no interest in them in any respect - and that their responsibility is to emplace that indifferent Government with blue rosettes.

    Hitchens is right. We don't have parties in Westminster, we have interconnected cabals who are playing a grand game of election winning. And Brogan is one of their playing pieces.

    And the electorate? Who they? What's any of this important stuff got to do with them?

  3. The parallels with 92/97 are certainly there but I think the EU and referendum are going to come into it - last refuge etc.?

  4. It's not just the Conservative party. There's been a consistent murmur over the past few years that state funding of political parties is what's needed to avoid the funding scandals - dodgy millionaires, the Co-op, unions and so on.

    Ho-hum, parties which can't secure funds through membership because they can't attract members, become institutionalised as arms of the government paid for by us as a general good.

    I'm increasingly of the view that parliamentary democracy as we've known it, has run its course.

  5. What the party fail to realise is the message "is" getting across,
    However it has three fatal flaws: It isn't democratic, It isn't conservative and we don't like it.

  6. Very good article, just shows how poor our MSM is. Is it not referred to as the "fourth estate" in some quarters, a council slum presumably. Flyinthesky gets the point, "we do get it and do not like it".

  7. Good article and TFB you have rightly identified much of the problem for Tory voters:
    "reasons for the Tories' collapse such as; cast iron, gay marriage, humiliation by the Chinese, the veto that never was, failed immigration promises, lies on the Norway option, HS2, a three-line whip imposed on his party against an EU referendum only to change his mind and promise one he cannot deliver on, trying to take us to war in Syria. . . . the list is endless"

    I agree to with Cosmic: "I'm increasingly of the view that parliamentary democracy as we've known it, has run its course".
    and other comments. There is a yawning gulf between ALL the parties and the electorate, though perhaps UKIP's approach is nearer.
    It is now far too late for the Tories to become Conservative - the die is cast. Bye Bye Cameron.