Monday, July 02, 2012

Tory Troubles

The past few weeks have not shown the British Conservative Party in a very good light. The large numbers of "Enoch was right" articles, to commemorate the centenary of the old devil simply reminded me why he had so few political (and not many other) friends. Pedantic and rigid, his vision of Britain was blinkered. Far from being some iconic lost genius, the rather sad cheerleaders from the right wing press simply reminded me of how often the Tories are wrong- and when they are wrong, how seriously wrong they can be.

The nonsense of Jeremy Hunt's support for Murdoch was another one of those "whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad" moments. The fact is that Murdoch has been a poisonous and probably criminal influence on British politics for decades. Only the completely blind, or those blinded by arrogance, could have failed to see that the return of Murdoch to the Tory fold was hardly likely to be straightforward. Thus the whole-hearted support by the Conservatives for the BSkyB bid was, to say the least, badly timed. In fact is was completely misconceived. At a time when Labour might have yet been tarred more aggressively for their crawling to the Dirty Digger, the Tories managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and portray themselves as even more craven than Labour to the moral vacuum at the heart of the Murdoch Empire. It was was a wholly avoidable blunder- and foolish in the extreme. 

Given that the Liberal Democrats owe Murdoch precisely nothing, you could hardly expect that Nick Clegg would take any blame, and indeed it was obvious that he would actively disassociate himself and the Lib Dems from anything that looked like support for Murdoch. It was not the Lib Dems who hung Hunt out to dry, it was the Tories themselves and the huge blunders they made that left the Culture Secretary so isolated.

And then there is Europe. 

Oh Dear: here we go again. The Conservatives just can not let this lie. They know that withdrawal is not an option- and in an in/out referendum there is every chance that the UK would vote strongly for their own self interest and stay in the EU-  even if, as in the 1970s, there is precious little love for the "Common Market".  The supposed pressure from UKIP is said to be making the Tories nervous, but apart from the Euro elections themselves, the UKIP is likely to remain a marginal force in national British politics: it is invisible both in the House of Commons and across all tiers of local government- and there is no sign that this is going to change.

Yet despite the misteps of the Conservative party, which they themselves are responsible for, the grumbling Tory MPs continue to look to the Lib Dems for scapegoats. "If we cannot get support for Hunt over BSkyB, then there will be no Lords reform" seems to be the message. It is of course cutting off the Tory nose to spite their own face. A breakdown in Lords reform would probably mean the end of the coalition- and it is not just the Lib Dems who are facing pressures in the opinion polls.

The last few weeks have shown the Conservatives at they most intellectually lazy and callously miscalculating. It certainly reminds me why I dislike their attitudes and quite often their personalities too. However, as the weeks pass, I grow happier with the performance of the Liberal Democrat Ministers. Calmly and with no little humour they have performed their duties with dignity and competence. The polls remain awful, but there is a growing sense that things are not getting worse, and we may even see a modest recovery. It is not forgotten that Labour made most of the mistakes that caused the crisis, and that mere apologies are not enough. Ed Miliband does not articulate a particularly coherent or compelling vision, and Ed Balls is widely disliked.

The Conservatives are beginning to get the treatment that the Liberal Democrats had in the first two years of the coalition. We had the moral fibre to cope: I wonder if the Tories do too? 

British politics remains in flux, and although commentators are quick to dismiss the Lib Dems, the fact remains that the people have not yet spoken, and that when they do those who were prepared to sell their souls to Murdoch may yet be punished for their cynicism and their hubris.

I bloody hope so- seeing some genuine contrition on the faces of George Osborne or Ed Balls is something I would give a lot to see.

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