This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

REAL Tory policy views !

The Conservative.Home / 'The Independent' survey of Tory grassroots makes interesting reading. Included in it's principal findings are the following nuggets :

Right-wingers are most popular members of shadow cabinet: The members of the shadow cabinet who would traditionally be seen as right-wingers - David Davis (72%), William Hague (56%) and Liam Fox (44%) - generally produce much higher levels of 'net satisfaction' from members than those who could be categorised as 'modernisers' - Francis Maude (2%), Theresa May (3%) and Oliver Letwin (10%).

On Cameron : 27% are either quite or very dissatisfied with Cameron

The authoritarian John Reid is the most feared would-be Labour leader, no doubt as his agenda chimes well with the core Tory impulses. Remember too how the term 'liberal conservative' was met with an embarassing response from the Tory grassroots during a Cameron speech earlier this week !

The A-list : A paltry 6% of Tory members believe that the A-list includes "the most talented candidates in the party" ....More than half of members (54%) thought it "a politically correct list that has excluded many of the party’s most experienced male and local candidates and it is a backward step."

Tax - and the only figures you're going to get from the Tories this week ! : 91% want personal tax cuts with 30% wanting a promise of a substantial tax cut before the General Election. Most members are disappointed with the modest Tory opinion lead: 65% of respondents thought that the 4.8% lead in ConservativeHome's poll of polls (as the lead was last week) should be larger given Labour's difficulties.

And beyond this poll we can see fissures on tax all too apparent within the Tory party. The Thatcherite 'No Turning Back Group', chaired by the 'much-loved' but strangely gone missing these last few months, John Redwood, has produced a pamphlet on taxation. In it; Lord Blackwell, who ran the Downing Street policy unit in John Major's government, said he thought taxes could be cut by between £20bn and £30bn over the next Parliament.

He said ensuring that public spending rose 1% slower than the growth of the economy would leave room for those tax cuts - and still see spending on public services increase by £40bn. What could be easier, everyone a winner - as if !

Edward Leigh, Conservative chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, claimed that at least 100 Tory MPs wanted plans for tax cuts set out immediately. He warned: "If the Conservative Party does not promise tax cuts then it's nothing."

Mr Leigh said the Conservatives would be "torn apart" by Chancellor Gordon Brown, the most likely next Labour leader, if they were "all spin". This is the same Mr. Leigh from the socially conservative 'Cornerstone Group' whose traditional views on family, welfare and immigration make chilling reading. Take a look at their website, the reactionary Conservative elements are alive and well and influential in that party.

Redwood points to the low tax regime of the Irish Republic and it's levels of economic growth, but typical of the Tories says nothing of the huge increase in inequalities in Ireland and the attendent social problems that have resulted.

It seems 'The Vulcan' wants to return to a retro 1980s Toryism, as do most of the members. This is the real Conservative party of today. Just like NuLab, they will tolerate Cameron as long as there is any possibility of winning the next election, but his platitudes hide the right wing sentiments of his membership.

Another word of warning. The last Tory leader to offer a threadbare policy programme to replace a discredited Labour government resulted in Thatcher and her ideological onslought and a very disunited Kingdom. Anyone for more of the same (potentially) ? Thought not !

On the plus side, I think the veneer of a new moderate conservatism is being exposed this week and, indeed, many commentators are taking issue with the total absence of concrete policy on ANYTHING.


Blogger eatdrinksouthdevon said...

The paradox of politics is that even though you're voting for your MP you're really kinda making a statement about national politics. Sure. When we do that we're painting with a broad brush, and that brush doesn't take into account Shadow Cabinets. It's more 'Labour bad - war and bitch fight over leadership'; 'Tories kinda untrustworthy (but tax!)'; and Lib Dems, sorry, but you guys are worse off than with Chuck - what have you been doing (especially seeing as you could really step into the void)? Also, it is less damaging for the Tories to be rightwing than it is for Labour to be leftwing. Go figa! Anyway, Lib Dems should be planning to make a swathe of yellow cut across the county from Trobay up through North Devon to the sea come next election. And that can only be done by facing up to local issues - although the county council aint done you any favours.

1:28 am BST


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