Monday, June 18, 2007

The Conservative party's policy shambles

James Graham, Stephen Tall on LibDem Voice and Freethink blog have highlighted the Populus poll that shows Conservative MPs surprisingly divided and decidedly unprogressive.

In many ways, Hugo Swire has done us a remarkable public service. He has again reminded us that Cameron is not actually leading the Tory party in the normal sense of "leading". One normally regards "leading" a group of people as the act of coaxing a group of people in a direction where they, broadly speaking, want to go.

Cameron is not doing that. He is constantly stating a public tone and direction which is completely at odds with the group of people he is nominally leading - the Conservative party.

The Hugo Swire debacle about museums is glaringly emblematic of this. Poor old Hugo. He seemed to have a chat with a journalist and flagged up the likely outcome of a policy review. Within a few minutes the "leadership" had pounced on him and told him to shut up. What was his crime? Saying what he thought was a Conservative position. Indeed, I suspect it is a view agreed with by most Conservative members. Allow museums and galleries to charge so they can improve their exhibits. It is a very Conservative position and no one is surprised by it.

But of course....Naughty Hugo. Tut Tut Tut. You mustn't act like a Tory in the modern Cameron"-led" Conservative party. Naughty naughty.

But there is the process issue here also. Say what you like about the LibDems, but at least we have a tried and tested method (albeit with small hiccoughs occasionally) to agree policy internally before going forward with it publicly as a firm party policy.

But the Conservatives seem to make policy by hauling a flag up the flag post and seeing if it gets shot at. If it does, they rapidly haul it down again and deny that the flag was ever raised in the first place.

It really is no way to run a whelk stall, let alone a political party.

Stephen Tall pointedly observes:

Given the currently febrile state of the Tory party, political opponents might be forgiven for relishing the forthcoming spate of policy reviews commissioned by Mr Cameron, and which are due soon to report.

Relishing?! Moi? Of course, not! (White Rabbits)

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