In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Only Party In Town

I must confess to more than a degree of “surprise” and despair (to put it mildly), as to how one of the oldest (in historical terms) political parties in the UK can put so much public effort into consigning itself to the dustbin of history.

The recent party conference, instead of being used to showcase intelligent new policies that would form the skeleton of the future manifesto, degenerated into a well publicised “whispering” campaign about the poor leadership of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS).

This disarray was further compounded by the squalid and nasty “Betsygate” affair, whereby a journalist has submitted a dossier to the parliamentary watchdog about the alleged misuse of public money to pay for IDS’s wife to work for him in the Conservative Party. The allegation being, that she did not work as hard as she should have done to justify the salary she was paid.

Whatever the truth in this particularly personal and unpleasant allegation; it is clear to me, and the electorate, that the Party has lost the will to fight and win a general election. Much like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, I fear that the Party has “ceased to be”.

I can personally attest to this lack of “life force”. Some months ago I wrote an open letter to Croydon Council (my local authority, Labour controlled); castigating them for the 26% rise in council tax that they imposed upon the hapless residents of Croydon. I posted this to the “Worse Than Worthless” section of my website, and emailed a copy to my local Conservative Association.

I naively assumed that my local Association might be able to use this, in some form or other, to raise public awareness of the council tax issue; and to improve their own standing in the polls. How wrong I was, they did nothing:

 No leaflet drops
 No letters to the local paper
 No evidence of life stirring within the local Conservative Association bunker at all.

They did not even have the courtesy to acknowledge receipt, or thank me for my interest in the Party.

Note to my local Party: “When something is handed to you on a plate, you do at least say thank you!”

Note to the national Party, using the vernacular of the under 60’s; “sorry guys, but what the hell are you doing?

Here, is my prescription for restoring the body of the Party to some form of health:

 Decide now, not tomorrow or next week, as to whether you intend IDS to lead you through the next general election. If you want him to go, then for God’s sake put him and the rest of us out of our misery. If you want him to stay, then unite or die!

 Change the rules for electing the leader, the current situation whereby the constituency parties have a say does not work. The leader has to lead the MP’s, without their respect and loyalty he/she will be isolated and impotent. The constituency parties are a hindrance, not a help, in the selection process.

 Change the rules for selecting parliamentary candidates, at the moment the constituency parties hold the whip hand. This is evidenced by the debacle of the recent selection in Windsor; whereby a man of Malcolm Rifkind’s experience did not even make the short list, because the local party went into a sulk about an interview he gave (see my article “The Sulking Conservatives”).

 For goodness sake try to encourage people under the age of 60 to join the Party. At the moment the demographic skew in the Party is so heavily weighted to the over 60’s, that the “connectivity” between the Party and the real population of the UK is non existent.

 When people try to help you, even if that help cannot be used, at least show them the courtesy of thanking them. You won’t get votes, or members, unless people feel that you listen to them.

In my opinion, until these remedies are effectuated vigorously, and without mercy, Tony Blair’s recent comment will stand; namely:

“The Labour Party is the only party in town”.

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