|Turn Right or stay put? Chishti, Crouch and Reckless|
The Coalition was easily formed as both the Liberal Democrats and liberal centre ground Conservatives had similar aims and yearnings for change - albeit with different approaches and maybe different outcomes. Both parties have had their problems. We've lost good people because they are unhappy with us joining the Conservatives, others because we broke our pledge and/or signed off on policies that we've deemed as illiberal. It is a relief that Nick has started saying No more these days and reasserting the Party's will a bit more.
There have been divisions within the Conservative party who were upset about them joining the old enemy the wishy-washy Liberals. Ofcourse there was always a stigma about going further right as there lay the BNP and UKIP. One, a fairly disorganised rabble of racists and the other was seen as a one trick pony where Kilroy and Neil Hamilton went. Serious Conservatives fearing bad press wouldn't go near them. Instead they have held out haranguing the Government leadership and waiting for the Coalition to fail/end whichever happened first.
However the recent UKIP surge has got many Conservatives questioning their position. In 2010 many got in because they were simply not Labour, or from those who wished to see a return of a true Blue government like Thatcher and they have been disappointed. UKIP is suddenly an acceptable party to vote for and have talks with. Nadine Dorries, often seen as some what of a loose cannon made the step of trying to run on a joint ticket and I wonder how many other disgruntled Conservatives felt the same way. Suddenly many Conservatives who were happy to sit on the benches and not rock the Coalition boat too much have found their voices which would explain the 130 MPs, which had risen from 60 earlier in the week, who voted for an EU referendum.
What will that mean for Medway's blue team? Well, for the first time, the normally ultra loyal Rehman Chishti, who voted against a referendum in the past, found himself rebelling. Is this a move to recapture possible lost ground in Gillingham and Rainham? Ground support for him would be tough enough in 2015 with many flocking back to support Labour Candidate and former MP Paul Clarke, and to try and stop the right vote splitting it could be considered that he is trying to cut of UKIPs head before it starts. I think we could see more such moves from Rehman so do keep your eyes on him in the future.
Mark Reckless is unlikely to swing right. He's already been exceptionally vocal on his belief of pulling out of Europe and has been consistent in his voting and considered at one point the most rebellious! It would be pointless for UKIP to stand a candidate and split the vote which would allow Labour in through the backdoor.
Tracey Crouch also recently rebelled but this hasn't been a sharp turn right for her. Tracey has always stood with the Prime Minister's position that powers need to be recouped and has voted accordingly. Chatham & Aylesford could be an exceptionally close run thing in 2015 and I think there will be concerns that a UKIP surge could cost her the seat but I don't think that she will knee jerk right as Rehman has done so and depart from her normal voting position. If anything Tracey will continue being Tracey but again, we shall see.
The Conservative party has evolved a lot since the fall of Thatcher and still looks like it needs to find itself. It'll be interesting to watch where they settle and how our MPs in the Medway towns will shift and whether it will preserve them in 2015 or if I'll see them down the job centre in Chatham in June 2015!
Also, as a brief aside. Tris ends his piece with;
Alternatively, if they are too weak to speak out, then the choice is clear. Labour is the only moderate, centrist and socially liberal party in British politics.
I'm moved to ask... What about the Liberal Democrats? The quintessential Middle ground! Whilst Labour go left and the Tories right... Is it possible for us to be more central?
Also who is more liberal than the Liberals?