A musing on the death of the Tory Party ...
Does the Tory Party still exist? Is it still the political voice of nice people living in the nicest parts of England and Wales or is it just a figment of our imagination?
I suspect that when Tory MPs return home to their constituencies on a Friday evening they wish it didn’t exist. Tory activists like Tory voters are not happy bunnies. They share the frustration increasingly being voiced by the righty-wing media. What has happened to the Tory Party? Where has it gone? Why is the coalition government not pursuing a Tory agenda?
Take Baroness Warsi who is supposed to be the Chairman of the Tory Party. In a disappearing act worthy of the great Harry Houdini she has quite simply vanished. Has she become shy? Has she got a very bad dose of tonsillitis? It is more than just counter-intuitive to have a Tory Party Chairman who is never seen or heard. I will buy lunch or dinner for the first person who can prove to me that Baroness Warsi still exists.
At a time of coalition government (and I remain a fan) it is all the more important that the Tory Party has a voice. Our values are important values. We believe in the family but embrace diversity. We believe in a small state and empowered citizens. We believe in strong defence and we support the police. We believe in low taxes and choice. I could go on …
There is part of me which believes that the PM and his key aides aren’t that bothered about the Tory Party. He is clearly a Whig and puts pragmatism before conviction or ideology. I am not even sure that he cares very much about the Tory Party and its quaint ways. I was brought up in Putney Conservative Association. The local branch structure. The formidable Women’s Committee. Executive Committee Meetings. Jumble Sales. Political Suppers. These are what make (or rather made) the Tory Party so special. Like Tony Blair I think that the PM doesn’t have much time for any of it.
When God created the world he spent a whole (coffee) morning creating a creature called ‘Tory Woman.’ There is nothing quite like them in the whole animal kingdom. Perhaps David Attenborough should do a series about a species that was created to organise coffee mornings, political suppers, Tory Balls and run committee rooms on polling days. I do not mock Tory Woman. Over the years I have grown very fond of them. I love them dearly. They must be despairing about what is happening to the party they have devoted their lives to serving.
If we aren’t careful the Tory Party will wither on the vine and then die. In many parts of the country it is already the case that Tory activists are, to quote W S Gilbert, in the autumn of their lives. There are far too few young activists. This situation will only get worse if there is not a cogent, populist and compelling Tory case being made to the public. We are witnessing the slow painful death of the Tory Party.
Why is the Tory case not being made? Does anybody really care? When will Baroness Warsi be replaced by somebody who actually exists? Is the Tory Party finished?