Just as Lord Tebbit was telling me last night that the Conservative Party chairmanship was being mishandled… the Conservative Party chairmanship was being mishandled.
The reactions to Grant Shapps and Tory HQ’s patronising post-budget graphic have covered all the satirical ground that needs covering. The question Tory activists, voters, and strategists should be asking is: how did this happen? It wasn’t an innocent or clumsy mistake that’s for sure.
Less than a month ago, I warned that the party was moving in a direction at the behest of those more concerned with their own local electoral fortunes than conservatism itself. I’ve heard the responses to this: “In order to govern in a conservative manner, we must first be elected to a majority”.
This defeatist tendency ‘admits’ that conservatism is not electorally appealing, and insists that the Tory party should again move to the Left, embrace trades unions, chuck in some ethnics, ‘wimmin’, and other things people might think are good, and soften a bit on Europe and immigration too just for good measure.
The ‘Beer and Bingo’ poster comes as no surprise when you consider who exactly is running Tory HQ and Conservative strategy nowadays. It’s not the ‘hardworking people’ come good as Conservative Party operatives would have you believe. For the most part, those in positions to take and influence decisions in the Conservative Party are ‘liberal elites': privately schooled, who spent their 20s in newly-gentrified areas of London, and who were either political lobbyists or parliamentary staffers for their entire professional careers.
I should know. Besides the liberal and the parliamentary staffer part I’m basically one of them. Their mindsets are collateral damage of the Thatcher years. They’re not old money, but their parents did alright. And for that they think they can look down their noses at the rest of this country. Maggie would have loathed them.
And now they’re trying to pull the rug out from under Farage (who’s hardly a white van man himself).
But its just embarrassing. On all counts. And Lord Tebbit was right to say what he did last night: the Conservative Party urgently needs to move back to its grassroots, back to the doorsteps, and back to reality.
Cameron may well get another shot at government in 2015 due to economic circumstances, but the future of the party is at stake unless conservatives take back CCHQ.