Too early to write off the Tories?

Gareth at the CEP and Stuart at Independence are engaged in some interesting speculation on the fate of the Tories in the general election.

Stuart notes that the Tories have admitted they are losing the battle. Personally, I think they are clearly implementing Lynton Crosby’s send a message strategy of trying to lull Labour voters into a false sense of security.

Nevertheless, there is no concrete evidence of the Tories making up any ground. Indeed, Stuart links to a very interesting Scotsman article on the likely aftermath of another Tory defeat:

This weekend, party grandees are already preparing for the fall-out from another defeat. It is understood that Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the party’s influential 1922 Committee, (and the man behind the well-executed plan to force out Iain Duncan Smith) is quietly laying the ground for a soft landing. Party chiefs want Howard to stay on after May 6, hoping to prevent the chaos of the 1997 and 2001 elections, when John Major and William Hague respectively quit immediately afterwards. This time, they hope that their still respected leader will stay on to allow a more orderly succession. However, the fact that they are now preparing for such a move speaks volumes.

The article also has a list of the Howard’s potential successors. To the best of my knowledge the word at Westminster is that the Tory leadership favours David Cameron.

Gareth at the CEP is hoping that David Davis will come through, as he has spoken up in favour of an English Parliament.

If Davis manages to hold his seat he will certainly be a formidable candidate. He is the only Tory I can think of who has carved out a heavyweight presence since 1997, taking a few ministerial scalps in the process.

Having said that, I hold no brief for the Tories, partly because I wouldn’t trust their management of the Irish peace process, but also because they have responded to New Labour’s domination of the centre by veering further to the right.

Nevertheless, the Conservative Party is an enduring part of the British political landscape, and I think the most constructive way they could evolve would be towards English nationalism, which I think would also require them to return to  a more centrist one-nation philosophy.

Whether that happens may in part depend on whethet they make an electoral recovery outside England. It may be worth keeping an eye out for the results from Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and Monmouth in Wales.



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3 responses to “Too early to write off the Tories?”

  1. Gareth avatar

    Tom, out of interest do you think that the Tories could ever play a constructive role in the peace process.
    Is the obstacle precidence or the fact that they are a Unionist party with close ties to factions in the North?
    What if they were to become an English nationalist party? Would that soften Republicans views on working with a Tory Government.
    All idle speculation I know, but interesting I think.

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    I think all of the major actors in Irish nationalism, the Irish Government, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, would work with whatever British Government was in power.
    They would all probably have more of an affinity with Labour, but they would see it as essentially a domestic British matter.
    They all worked with a Tory Government in the Major years, although that illustrated some of the problems, particularly as Major was beholden to unionist votes in the commons.
    There is obviously a deep-rooted and bitter history of antagonism between Sinn Fein in particular and the Tories. After all, members of each party were killed in the Northern Ireland conflict, and each side would probably hold the leadership of the party responsible.
    Some of the other Irish nationalist parties could be described as quite conservative themselves.
    I remember as a child growing up in a Labour household, and being quite disconcerted when my mum explained her family in Ireland voted for what she described as a conservative party, Fianna Fail.
    The Irish in Britain have generally been seen as pro-Labour, and I think they’re still the party who best represent the interests of the Irish as a community.
    Having said that, I’ve known countless individual Irish people who’ve voted Tory over the years. If the Tories do move in an English nationalist direction, it might be a more comfortable home for those people.

  3. Gareth avatar

    Well it looks as if Tony will have another four years to find an acceptable settlement. I think he badly wants to add ‘Peace Process’ to his CV – which at the moment reads:
    At the moment I think those are the acheivements being recorded for posterity.

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