Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 17 January 2005

Tories need to decide whether they want to win ...

... and to start taking the [hard] decisions which may allow this to happen four or five years from now. As I've written before, the idea that the Party might win the coming election is highly unlikely. That's the reality.

Rachel Sylvester has a very timely article in today's Telegraph in which she contends that the defection of Robert Jackson to Labour a few days ago has "all the hallmarks of an Alstair Campbell operation"; as I wrote in the article immediately preceding this one, the timing and circumstances of Jackson's move are certainly curious, so her glimpse into what may have been behind it seems to have, at the very least, a grain of authenticity.

She goes on to analyse why, in her opinion (and in mine - it's uncanny how her article mirrors much of my own thinking and sporadic writing here over the past year or two), the Conservative Party still has so far to go before it is likely to win at a General Election. Of course, the quotations I included in the previous article speak to the same problem - the almost complete refusal of the Tories "to accept the scale of the problems they face", sentiments attributed to Lynton Crosbie (a political strategist brought in from Australia by Michael Howard) in Rachel Sylvester's article. One paragraph of her article reads:

"There is a space on the electoral landscape for a modern centre-Right party, but my guess is that it will be one which is avowedly liberal, both socially and economically. The commitment to ID cards would have to go. Tax cuts would fit into that agenda - but matched by an equal emphasis on reforming public services. Those blue-rinses who are forcing out women candidates would have to be taken on and beaten. There would be no more space for ambiguity over gay rights and family values."

and she goes on to make the [probably valid] point that Michael Howard "as an instinctive authoritarian" is not really suited to lead such a Party. You can read the whole article here. Jackson's prospective replacement at Westminster, Ed Vaisey, is perhaps amongst those who might help the Conservative Party make the radical changes in policy necessary to succeed. This is a trick the Party has managed several times before in its long history as a way of renewing its relevance to British society. It must make a decisive break with the dead-end policies that have led it to its current downward spiral; it will be painful, no doubt about it, but the alternative is oblivion. I have said more or less the same thing many times before and I begin to wonder why I still care - the simple truth is that I continue to believe that the Conservative Party, suitably refreshed in policy terms, is the best group to govern this country and to replace the 'charlatans' we currently have to deal with.

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