Tories don’t like opposition. That much was made plain in 1986 with the passing of the Local Government Act. This act abolished the metropolitan county councils – all of which were Labour-controlled – and effectively left large areas of the country without any form of unified administration. The Act also contained the notorious Section 28, which forbade councils from “promoting” homosexuality. Abolishing local authorities because of their political complexion is the sort of thing that we have come to expect in countries where the rule of law comes from the barrel of a gun. Not here. Not in Britain?
When the Tories went into coalition with the Lib Dems, they announced that they were going to impose boundary changes on the country. Why? Well, they don’t like losing in the inner cities. Their rationale – such as it is – is that it’s simply unfair and beastly that Labour continue to win in the inner cities and they cannot. Rather than accept that they will never be popular in such areas, they resort to crooked means to get what they want.
However, the issue isn’t so much the boundary changes but the reduction in the number of Commons seats. Under the proposed changes, the Tories would gain 12 seats and Labour would lose 25. This idea for a reduced number of seats comes straight from the pages of Hannan and Carswell’s The Plan, from which the majority of the Tories craziest policies have originated. “We want to get rid of safe seats”, declare the book’s authors. What they really meant was “we want to abolish safe seats that are controlled by other parties”. Be assured that the ideas laid out in The Plan have little or nothing at all to do with democracy (as we know it) and has more to do with refashioning this country in the image of the United States but, more importantly, creating a system that rewards the Tories with governmental power for eternity.
What the Tories fail to grasp is the fact that they are by far, the least popular party in the country. Since the 1979 General Election, more people have voted for Labour or other parties than the Tories who, under the present electoral system, are allowed to govern with a lower percentage of votes than the opposition parties combined. For example, in the 1987 General Election the total percentage of votes for the opposition when added up was 50.7%, the Tories won the election on a paltry 43.9%. Under a proportional system, the Tories would have been in opposition. Indeed after the Murdoch-rigged 1992 election, the Conservatives would have found themselves on the opposition benches for a generation or two.
No one should believe the excuses that come from Lord Snooty and his pals that these changes will result in more ‘balance’ in the Commons. When Tories talk about “balance” and “fairness” they really mean a playing field that is skewed in their favour.
In the last couple of weeks, Cameron has been talking about what his party is going to do after the next General Election. This is revealing because it completely exposes the lack of ideas that I’ve been talking about on this blog for the better part of two years. Bereft of intellectual gravitas and a philosophical anchor, the Tories can only fantasize about what might happen in years to come. Lord Snooty has talked about moving even further to the right after 2015 but he wilfully ignores the fact that no one, except those in his own party, has the stomach for any more public sector cuts and privatizations.
Lord Snooty knows that his backbenchers are restless and so he offers the Europhobes a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU on the same day as the election. To hear them talk, anyone would think that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is more important than any discussion about the lack of housing or jobs. Moreover, we get a referendum on this issue but what about the issues that really matter? Did any of us get a say as to whether or not we wanted the wholesale privatization of our national assets or whether we wanted ‘free’ schools? No.
The Tories failed to win an outright majority in 2010 (they won 36.1% of the vote while Labour won 29% and the Lib Dems were on 23%). They believed that this was because Labour continues to win in the much-coveted inner cities, not because they are seen (and rightly so) as the party of the rich and the privileged. Furthermore they cannot see themselves winning the next election without resorting to some kind of ‘fix’. When all else fails, cheat.
Finally, from The New Statesman,
The awkward fact for Conservative strategists remains that Cameron and Osborne struggled to beat Gordon Brown, a reviled incumbent, in an election when the left vote was split by disillusioned Labour voters backing Nick Clegg. For all Ed Miliband’s weaknesses as a candidate, he has acquired a higher, plumper cushion of a core vote from Lib Dem refugees. Cameron, meanwhile, hasn’t made much progress in the north or Scotland or among swing voters who considered backing the Tories last time but weren’t quite persuaded.