Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 12 January 2005

The Party with the death-wish; it's the Conservative party, of course

The Conservative Party seems to limp from one debacle to another, unfortunately. This fills me with genuine sadness. Today I read in the Telegraph that one of the very few female Conservative PPCs has been deselected by her constituency association. Sue Catling has been turfed out by Calder Valley Conservative Association, after having reduced the Labour majority by half to only 3,000 at the last General Election. Of course, there are two sides to every story and I don't have personal knowledge so can only go by what I read. However, Telegraph columnist Alice Thomson (a generally reliable commentator on Conservative politics, in my experience) seems to have no doubts about what is going on, when she refers to the deterioration of the situation over the last 30+ years, from the time Margaret Thatcher was making her way in politics, by ending her article thus:

"If the Tories do not put more women in the Commons soon, the voters might not return more Tory men."

The right of Associations to choose their PPCs has always been sacrosanct, and I generally think this is a good thing, but it becomes a liability when local grassroots membership is so out of step with trends in wider British society. I've talked about this before in another context (ad nauseam, mine, in fact), but it is a problem that the Party will somehow have to solve if it is to re-engage with a larger segment of the electorate.

Even on a day when Tony Blair was wrong-footed by Michael Howard at PMQs, because of the apparent fratricidal conflict between Blair and Gordon Brown, the inability of the Tories to improve their poll ratings serves to confirm the increasing irrelevance of the Party in British politics. Unless something dramatic happens, and soon, I fear that the long-forecast meltdown may not be far away. And it is Blair, and he alone, who will choose the date of the General Election.

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