It is curious that of the three major parliamentary party leaders, the most pressure has thus far been on Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband who, despite their poor performance, nevertheless remain on steady course to form a “Progressive Coalition” in 2015.
Of course much can change in a year, but the party in greatest and most urgent need of that change is the Conservatives, who have placed third in a national election for the first time in their history, and haven’t won a general election for almost 25 years.
Lord Aschroft’s polls released yesterday show that 82 Conservative MPs in key marginals are likely to lose their seats in 2015, if current trends continue.
We have heard the usual “we will learn the lessons” soundbites from Cameron and Shapps, but they won’t, because they can’t. They have been raised in the Blairite tradition of the modern political classes, and they know no other way.
It has already led them to arrogantly dismiss any pact with UKIP because the Conservative Party doesn’t do deals (the Coalition?) and give new marching orders to their beleaguered troops who owe their defeat only to their blind national strategy.
So what needs to change?
At the Bow Group we have been arguing for some time that conservative policy was never the root of the “nasty party” problem. The people in Westminster were and are the problem, and it is no bad thing that the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative leaders are all under pressure in that vein.
What UKIP has crystallised is not a frustration with political ideas, or even the system, but our politicians themselves.
The notion that London knows best has been soundly defeated tonight, in politics and the media, and if nothing else it must be the final nail in the coffin of Cameron’s disastrous “modernisation project”. The best thing the Conservative Party can do is therefore give itself back to its members up and down the country, often far more loyal in years and ideology than their remote feudal masters at Conservative Central Office in Westminster.
That is why the Bow Group have called for the allowance of local pacts with UKIP, an elected Chairman of the Conservative Party by the members within 6 months and the abolition of the Coalition Government, followed by 10 further practical measures to democratise the Conservative Party and reinvigorate the membership and activist base.
There is much more to do of course beyond that; to set out our stall as a Party of minority government over the next 12 months to cut taxes, welfare, immigration, sort out the mess that the Same Sex Marriage Bill has done to both marriage and civil partnership, pay down the deficit and deal with the European question, but if the Conservative Party is given back to its members all that will follow, they know what to do, because they are unlike their current masters in touch with the country and actually conservative.