Reaping What You Sow

Douglas Murray delivers a bracing broadside in his column this month. The Tories do not deserve to win the election, he says, and goes on:

It is worth reminding ourselves of something. This is what friends of the Conservative party have got for five years of “detoxifying” insults, sustained political cowardice and a leadership-led abandonment of every issue of grassroots importance. This is all that has been achieved by those Tory backbenchers who have silently gone along with the Cameronians only because they thought it would finally gain them power…Cameron and his colleagues have spent the last five years assiduously antagonising everyone who should be well disposed towards them and attempting to woo those who would never like them.  

Spot on, Douglas. And over at the Telegraph, Gerald Warner goes in for the kill:

The “cast-iron” lie about the Lisbon Treaty referendum; the endless contradictions on the economy; the insolence towards party workers; the clique dominating the party and lecturing true Conservatives about their outmoded principles; the aggressive complicity with the culturally Marxist PC agenda; the flaky, drama queen women candidates; the sense of entitlement; above all, the sheer, monumental incompetence: what’s not to like – especially if you are a Labour supporter? Why are the Tories struggling in the polls? Because their core vote has abandoned them – as they arrogantly encouraged it to do.

Over the past five years, I’ve been consistently struck by the distaste with which the current Tory high command regards the party in the country. They’d really rather it would just go away. I remember being at the 2005 party conference – the one which crowned Cameron leader – and attending a meeting given by the then influential Policy Exchange think tank. It was metropoltan in feel, and there were disparaging remarks made from the panelists - which included at least one senior Tory figure - about so-called ‘white van man’; he could be dismissed anyway, it was said, because he was ’demographically in decline.’   

Since then, the top of the party has indeed seemed more scared by its own supporters than angry at those it should be fighting. As both Douglas and Gerald say, it has kept at arm’s length those who would naturally support it. Cameron at least started as he meant to go on; when he declared ‘I like Britain the way it is now’ he might have been ‘detoxifying’ the ‘brand’ but in the process he permenantly damaged relationships with the supporters who, rightly, were looking about themselves and seeing a country falling apart.

So here we are. Last night I was at a party in London, nothing to do with politics. Six friends, all of them traditionally on the conservative side to differing degrees though not especially political. None of them blue-rinsed, all between 30 and 50. How were they going to vote? Two UKIP, one Labour (for the first time), one not voting at all, one probably leaving the country. One Tory. Go figure.   

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