Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mid-Term Blues: Ignore Them At Your Peril

Given Bruce Anderson's apparent proximity to Downing Street, this is an extremely depressing piece. If Labour had stuck their heads in the sand about dreadful council results like this, complacently accepting their losses as "mid-term blues" rather than evidence of a wider problem, they wouldn't have adjusted their activities in order to win their second or third terms, and they wouldn't have held the Conservative Party back from winning a majority in 2010.

The problems are threefold:
1) An unappealing and indistinct policy platform
2) Poor presentation by unpopular ministers
3) A dismally ineffective electoral machine

The fact is that when someone asks a canvasser "why should I vote Conservative", they are returned a blank expression. I couldn't think of a compelling reason (other than the excellent work of the sitting councillor, which sadly wasn't enough). There seems to have been a decision at the top that the Conservative Party should stand for nothing in particular, but to ordinary voters that has translated into "the Tories stand for no one, and certainly not us".

And the latter part of that is amplified when an extremely well-off Chancellor stands up at the despatch box, freshly returned from his American holiday, to announce that he's giving the highest earners an apparent tax break (although not by enough to return the rate to what it was two years ago and thereby silence his critics, thereby rendering the act both costly and pointless) while slapping VAT on the cheapest hot food on the high street (in the middle of the longest winter of recent memory). The troubles caused by Jeremy Hunt and the Home Office over the past couple of weeks wither in comparison to those caused by the Treasury.

Meanwhile, the party organisation is a basket case, particularly in the cities (those same cities that last week rejected Cameron's proposal of elected mayors), which are mostly comprised of constituencies without Conservative MPs, where the highly motivated union troopers outnumber the humble Tory leafletter by 14-1.
It occurred to me during the run-up to the last election that if the Tories can't run a party operation competently, how on earth can we expect them to run a government? Sadly it seems that fear was a justified one.

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