Building a new right-wing constituency
I thought that this article in yesterday's Telegraph was chillingly interesting. I do think it is a viable scenario, that Labour is so invigorated it can destroy the remnants of 'Tory Britain'. When you think about it where or what are the traditional bastions of Tory support? The more you think about it the more clear the challenge facing the Tories becomes.
Britain is changing - partly naturally and partly forcibly as a result of Labour interference and massacring of the constitution which has served us well. [When I hear talk of Gordon Brown wanting to talk about codifying the constitution as Prime Minister then I begin to get even more scared. Not because I have a phobia of codification, but because we all have seen how Labour will try to influence elections through electoral procedures (just look at postal voting) so why wouldn't they try to skew the playing field through the constitution?] As it changes traditional centres of Conservative power are dying, weakening or becoming openly sneered at. I even felt slightly embarassed over Christmas when someone was staring at me buying the Telegraph! As George Trefgarne says, business is becoming disinterested in politics and suits, who won't fele the pinch, have been partially mesmerised by Blair, the traditional Tory working class vote seems to have crumbled in the cities, fractious sorts who would have propped up moderate Toryism have been enchanted by the permatan glow of UKIP and traditional British 'institutions' are either sneered at or have bought into Blair's big tent. It's not even as if Britain has a religious right it can fall back on like in the US.
Labour is cementing its core constituency of support (despite shakes over Iraq and Blair's rightward march) whilst Blairism has attracted new constituencies and made them suddenly seem Labourite. This just reinforces my view that Conservatism has to re-engage with politics in a new way - it has to seem like it has a new application in Britain today. We have to accept that Blairism's one lasting achievement has been to move the political playing field. As such, we have to accept that the game has changed and that we can't mould things and develop new constituencies of support until he has been beaten on his own terms - the public's terms. Blair's Labour vision needs to be something we distance ourselves from to offer a choice. To do this Conservatives need to strengthen constituencies which are failed by Labour - which to be fair they are trying to do - to build a new vote base for power, as at the moment they just don't have it. The problem is that this focus does not fit within a new narrative to make the Party look like a real alternative. As such, it just looks like cynical Tories desperate for power. We need a new language and a new cause for a new politics and a changed Britain. A Britain in which we allow business to flourish on its own terms so it can compete with the world, and in which we promise people the freedom to prosper. This also means the freedom to make mistakes allied with the duty to accept the consequences of your actions. This could be Conservative territory and a vocabulary with which large swathes of the country agree. We need to develop the new vocabulary and then push it to the groups who are to become the new Tory vote base.