Thursday, 22 September 2011

Smudging Party lines :- The changing face of the Conservative and Labour Paries.

During our party conference Dr Vince Cable said that the far Tory right were the direct "descendants of those who sent children up chimneys." It is something that can raise a chuckle and when you picture Peter Bone you could possibly believe it, even the rabid quasi rant that Nadine Dorries indulged in the other week was reminiscent of an Evangelical Victorian School mistress.

No matter what you think of them though, the  Conservative party have changed. David Cameron is not the grinning face of evil and his ministers do not look like the defendants bench at Nuremberg. Despite Ed Miliband's rhetoric of "The same old Tories" they have a new slant and their fresh MPs show great promise. The opposite seems to be true of Labour, they've also changed but they have drifted away from the Trade Union members and sympathisers towards an almost Conservative position. The once gaping void that had existed between left and right is now more of a quagmire where each can sink into with in the disputed middle ground.

What of us? I'd like to say that the Liberal and Lib Dem party have remained constant since Balfour's government was ousted by Campbell-Bannerman. Liberalism is a philosophy that does not appeal to a demographic or political spectra but is a broad brush stroke that encompasses let and right which tends to make us a centralist group. I think because we don't have a demographic that people don't know what we stand for.

After all Labour represent Urban Working class values where as the Conservatives represent rural and upper class values right?

Well if you look at the Constituencies then yes. There is no way Maidstone and the Weald will be Labour controlled and I doubt very much that inner city Manchester will become Conservative.

But the parties have changed since the fall of Mrs Thatcher. Labour under Blair did drift away from the Unions and strike action and tried to broaden their appeal to the middle - New Labour seemed to be a diet Conservatives but still drawing on the unions, there was a mix of Union presence like John Prescott vs. Mandelson and Blair himself.

The Conservatives have also changed. Thirteen years of opposition will do that, after all after every election defeat you've got to address why and party image. Old Conservative values are no longer as popular as they once were. I could sit here and criticise Conservative MPs like Priti Patel - who I think is an opportunist who vocally supports the party line, or Peter Bone, some what of a Political dinosaur or Nadine Dorries...
There are others- and I'm sure that party members in other parties could throw plenty of snide comments at LibDem MPs but that's just wasting time for futile one upmanship.

There are, however MPs who seem to buck this stereotype. Ken Clarke was labelled as a Lib Dem Minister by Nick Clegg in his address at the Conference rally, Penny Mordaunt pleaded with Theresa Villiers for her constituents to be relieved of high Train fares, Tracey Crouch reminded Theresa May of the good social networking sites did during the riots and urged against Government censorship of them. - Just to briefly share an anecdote from a Medway Libdem meeting; A colleague said of Miss Crouch after the last General Election:
"You won't see her in Chatham again until the next General election. Her support base is in Aylesford so that is where she'll concentrate."

I'm happy to say that she has proved them wrong.

Indeed this new brand of Conservatism is a lot more fuzzy and comforting. In the darkest days of the Tuition fee crisis I considered just going the whole mile and turning blue - I mean, at the time I was starting to believe we had anyway!

Some Lib Dems would argue that it is our influence over policy that has made them more attractive but do we have that much influence? After all we are but 8% of Parliament and could easily be over ruled! Also Nick has said that he and Mr Cameron have agreed on a lot of policy and both parties had a lot of common ground. There are differences in the form of the Human rights act, NHS reform, Trident etc but other ground that has become communal and communal by choice not by force. Lets be candid... If they really didn't share some of our policies do you really think we would have got as much done?

So why are they still hated? Apart from a small collection of relics and some of their links to big business etc there is one factor and I quote my good friend Caroline Bell:

Under Labour everyone has a good time, there is a lot of public spending but eventually the money runs out and the electorate turn to the Conservatives to fix the situation. The problem is the Conservatives make all the hard decisions and become unpopular so Labour get in. it's a cycle.

Before this parliament it was easy to dislike the Conservatives. I grew up at the time of Thatcher and the collapse of the Economy under Major - Blair's victory in 1997 was a huge change and New Labour was a breath of fresh air.

I guess what my course less meandering is trying to say is that the Conservatives have changed and that they and Labour are fighting over the same demographics for the majority of their support. This new Conservative party deserves a chance and shouldn't be judged on just its austerity measures but its other reforms too.


  1. Dorries will be complaining to Bedfordshire police that you're stalking her.

  2. "Under Labour everyone has a good time, there is a lot of public spending but eventually the money runs out and the electorate turn to the Conservatives to fix the situation. The problem is the Conservatives make all the hard decisions and become unpopular so Labour get in. it's a cycle."

    This attributes a hell of a lot more economic/fiscal savvy to the Conservative Party than they deserve.

    It was Heath and Barber who buggered up the finances in the 70s by cutting tax and upping public spending before an election and in a climate of high oil prices. It was under Thatcher that we saw boom and bust, 3 million unemployed and entire communities destroyed in the name of 'efficiency'. It was under Major we had to endure Black Wednesday. This notion that the Conservatives are good at handling the economy is, frankly, a total myth.

    I agree with you in as much as the Conservatives have become somewhat more liberal, in social terms. However, the fact remains they have little interest in addressing the problems of urban deprivation. Whatever way you dress it up, however much you talk about the laughable Big Society, people need jobs and fair working wages in order to improve their standards of living. The Tories have suggested nothing likely to bring this about. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I understand the Liberal Democrats had to enter coalition. But the way they surrendered on tuition fees, their landmark policy, was utterly pathetic. Couple this with a vote only on AV, rather than a form of PR (a campaign largely organised and fought by Lib Dems - VERY poorly), they now look incredibly silly. No amount of "the Tories are actually quite nice now" nonsense is going to restore public faith, I'm afraid.

    Prepare for a terrible set of election results culminating in many lost seats at the next General Election. Particularly away from the South of England.