By Sara Scarlett
After years of being told to ‘join the Tories,’ last year, I did! Here are a few thoughts…
I am still glad that Cameron is still Prime Minister despite his cowardice and “wetness.” I would rather have him in charge than any of the other Party Leaders who were around on May 2015 and any of the Leaders who are in charge now. Tim Farron strikes me as a nice man but ultimately he’s a charisma-free zone. Whilst I will admit the same could be said of Cameron, the Liberal Democrats need someone really special to decontaminate their brand and I don’t think Farron’s up to it. Cameron to his credit did decontaminate the Tory party brand.
The Labour party appears to have elected the cross between the President of a Polytechnic student union and a tramp. UKIP would be in a really strong position right now if they had changed their Leader and Douglas Carswell knows it… But the talent in UKIP may simply not be there. It could easily be the case that Farage is the best they’ve got. There are also other parties, I believe.
I’ve always been disappointed with Conservative party policy, a feeling shared by most of the classical liberals in the Tories, and I still feel disappointed with a great deal of it. Cameron hasn’t really brought in anything resembling sweeping reforms. To deal with the big issues like the deficit, health care, education, welfare, pensions and housing, there needs to be big structural change and if I have to make a predictation, I would confidently bet that the type of reform that’s needed is not going to happen under Cameron. He’s an okay caretaker but someone else is going to have to fix inherent problems in the system. Issues like a shortage of school places could be very easily with things like vouchers and profit…
I find myself, however, less angry at the Tories than the LibDems. The Conservatives are not Liberals and that’s okay because they’ve never claimed to be, or called themselves, liberal/Liberal. Conservatism as an ideology has always struck me as rather thin and unengaging but then someone in the LibDems will advocate sending smokers to prison and it will enrage me.
Unlike the left, the Conservatives are good when it comes to self-awareness. They are less good at framing the debate on their terms largely because the ‘unelected state’ – e.g. the BBC, the Arts, Academia – have a heafty left-wing bias and often define the terms of the debate before any political party gets a look in. Compassion should not be defined by how much money you throw at public services regardless of their effectiveness and outcomes. The Foreign Aid budget is a perfect example of this.
The LibDems are in bigger trouble than they realise. They’re not well placed to deal with a moderate Tory government. A lot of LibDem policy is surprisingly under-developed considering how long they’ve been around. The party caters almost exclusively to people working in the public sector and education with very little to offer those of us in the private sector.
More pertinently – I’ve also never heard a Tory say to anyone: “Why don’t you go join the Labour party?” Not ever. Not even once. The Tories will take your direct debit and cooly welcome you to tea and biscuits with the local council. There’s something inherently superior about about a political party that doesn’t alienate the very people who are giving it the money it needs to survive. What defines a Tory is whether or not you’re a member of the Conservative party not some arbritrary purity test. Despite finding myself drinking with a small subset of classical liberals and libertarians wondering why the party isn’t more into freedom – just like I did in the LibDems – the Tories are just so much more *together* with each other. The left-leaning Christian socialist wing of the party won’t try to expunge the neocons and vis-a-vis. In British politics broader churches are stronger churches and the LibDems inherent inability to manage that has been their downfall.
How many seats will the LibDems get next election? I’m going to go with four. Guesses in the comments section, please…