The Tories are revolting.
And before Bunny drops me a line ticking me off – I should say that I don’t mean that pejoratively. I mean it literally.
Inspired by the success – or perhaps undeterred by the failure – of the “Turnip Taliban” in Norfolk, the grassroots Conservatives of Beckenham (a Tory seat if ever there was one) are now up in arms. Why? Pretty much for the same reason as the Turnip boys – they clearly don’t like being pushed around by Tory high command. This particular row is – well, it’s about women again. They clearly don’t like their leaders’ edict that there must be at least three women on the shortlist for the seat. Many snorts of derision from the boys from Beckenham – one local Tory stating that the calibre of women candidates was “very poor” (would that be the cancer research scientist or the acclaimed author I wonder?). No, they want Col Bob Stewart DSO – former commander of UN forces in Bosnia. He’s English, white, in his 50’s (ish) and all-round action man. That’ll do nicely.
Goodness only knows how Mr Cameron is going to get women-only shortlists through – which is his declared aim (mumblings of “when hell freezes over” can doubtless be heard across English rural pastures).
But I don’t think this actually about “women”, though doubtless many think we should “know our place”. Over in Orpington another (not so old) Tory duffer – this one a Mr Peter Hobbins – (shortlisted to run in the London Mayoral election no less) threw another grenade at the besieged Tory leader. After failing to reach the local shortlist of local parliamentary candidates, he went on an email rant to his mates complaining about the lack of “normal English names” on the list, and suggesting that he should perhaps change his name to “Petrado Indiano Hobbinso”. He might as well have confessed to completing a “how sexy am i” survey online and then posting his results on facebook.
What does this tell us ? Well sadly it tells us that however hard Mr Cameron might try to convince us the Conservatives have changed, they haven’t. The cracks are definitely showing through the beautifully crafted Osbourne and Little wallpaper. The Tory party of old is still alive and thriving in the English counties – yearning for the good old days when foreigners were things you saw on holiday, women wanted nothing more than to cook you dinner, raise your children and warm your slippers and the poor had a role to play as long as they kept in their place.
One has to feel sorry for David. He must be sitting there pulling out his nicely coloured coiffured hair crying “don’t these bloody people get it ?” The answer would appear to be NO. The assumption that the Tories are so hungry for power that they will bury their differences and show a united front – at least until they get into power – would appear to be an incorrect one. I don’t know if this is madness or arrogance or both.
In spite of the current insurgence however, my suspicion is that the Bullingdon boys will indeed see off the Beckenham boys and any others that stand in their way. But If the trade unions couldn’t stop Tony Blair, I see no reason to believe that grassroots Conservatives will be any more successful. Cameron is (like Mr Blair was prior to waging an illegal war on Iraq) an unstoppable force. He has the media slavering at his feet. It’s his brand of Toryism that millions of voters see on their TV sets every other night. He has the infrastructure, the contacts, the money and well, frankly, the power to push through pretty much anything he wants.
And let me say, liberal Conservatives and the “get out of Europe” Conservatives take heed. Over recent weeks I have been told by articulate supporters of both camps (libo’s and sceptics) that once David Cameron comes to power they will ensure that the party puts into practice their particular standpoints. They will “keep their powder dry for now” ….but come the glorious day……Yeah right. There is every reason to believe that with an adequate majority he will listen to his grassroots and backbench MPs just about as much as Tony Blair did. Yes Mr Cameron might talk about rolling back Labour laws – reinstating our freedoms – but we can see all the small print on that every time Chris Grayling open’s his mouth. As for Europe… well don’t make me laugh.
So my advice to all Conservatives out there right now is to pray for a slim majority or a hung parliament. That way the Tory backbenchers might just have a say. If however, Mr Cameron does “sweep to power” you can forget it. A large majority will give Cameron the mandate and the ability to do what the hell he wants and he shows every sign of doing just that. Yep, I reckon the Bullingdon boys have it pretty much sewn up.