Mired in its own infighting, the Tories are failing to capitalise on the Momentum pogroms tearing the Labour Party in two, says Peter Divey.
Momentum is tightening the stranglehold it has on the Labour party. Members with insufficient zeal are being replaced on the NEC. Power to the People is much more than a slogan as the threat of deselection presses down on MP’s, with Jeremy Corbyn’s comments about reselection only further weighting that sword of Damocles. A Party of the People, by the People, for the People, but only if your face fits. Overtly, and no longer in slow motion, the Labour party is morphing into a far left reality as the power of MP’s is drained away. A much more pro-European Brexit position is likely when the musical chairs stop. To be moderate is no longer tolerable even if it is useful.
The response of the Tory party has been akin to continental drift, in that it hasn’t been obviously visible at all. They are far too busy tripping over their own feet. Everything is reactive, with crisis management the only name of the game. I have spent many a day pondering the purpose and strategy of the reshuffle. It has not revealed itself. If a strategy is too ambitious a quality for this non-event then it must be a tactic? Nope, still no help. As an advert for ineptitude, it was top notch, an embarrassing own goal.
The Tories are once again seen as the nasty party and their response is classic incoherence. The notion that left-wing tit-bits and green anti-plastic novelties will win votes from the young or those stranded in the political centre is silly. There is a real bona fide alternative blooming before their eyes, as Momentum pushes ahead with its social and cultural experiment. Government policy as a knee-jerk response to Blue Planet only shows how bare the ideas pantry really is. It is deserving of cynicism. Now, if Sir David Attenborough stood as Labour leader he would of course sweep into power, and he would instantly be the most liked leader in the world. Hell, I would probably vote for him. 91 years young would make no difference in this case. The Tory party must immediately stop with pointless offers to others that can never succeed. It was this nonsense that diminished the last manifesto to irrelevance, and not a vote would have been gained.
The Conservatives need to go back to being Conservatives. Economic competence, smaller government, fiscal discipline. Yet all of these are at risk, sacrificed on that friendly altar of social justice. Deficit reduction is on the back burner, to show how nice they are. Carillion collapsing challenges the whole premise of private/public inter-working. The Tories are reckless in business, all too eager to use public funds to bail out millionaires says Labour. Never mind that the Labour party, with bonkers PFI contracting, did more to burden public spending and privatise the NHS than Cameron or May could even conceive of. The Tories need to fight back and shout down these long-held misconceptions. When the opposition is setting the narrative and determining the agenda something is drastically amiss. The best way to eliminate the deficit is to promote growth and business. Success and profit are not dirty words. Be proud of what you stand for. You are not trusted if you are not authentic. Do something that will be lauded and useful, not just posturing to gain points. Divert money from Foreign Aid into the NHS, Ignore the howls and help the British people. Be brave. This Government is far too timid. In power, but seemingly too afraid to use it, too determined to always be conciliatory and fair. Constantly stymied and hesitant, more worried about how you are perceived and judged. Go for results.
Brexit is a case in point. Brexit is only worthwhile if you are all in. Convergence with EU rules and values strips all the life out of it, but Theresa May, in trying to offend no one pleases no one. Macron came, he saw, he took our money and our military help, and rebuked us on the way out. This seems to be the norm now. This Tory government needs the courage of its convictions and an unrelenting focus on Conservative values. As Theresa May is finding you cannot buy friendship with favours and concessions. There is just the whiff of weakness, a fruit tree ripe for the picking. Stand up for what you really believe and you will earn respect. On Question Time the Tory MP was called a liar, the only time she shifted out of bottom gear and showed a hint of passion. The NHS of course. Labour has established the myth of Tory indifference towards the NHS, of a real and concerted creeping privatisation. And all too easily because the Tories have not disputed it with venom. Loud and often is the only way, keep beating that drum until the tide turns, no matter how long it takes.
Venezuela via Momentum is coming here unless things change, which will make all the angst of Brexit seem like a picnic. UK plc will need a miracle… or David Attenborough.