9 March 2015

Tory projection therapy...

It must be a frustrating thing, being a Conservative. Between 1997 and 2010, you were consigned to thirteen long years in the doldrums of opposition, after the internal ructions, divisions, and scandals of John Major’s dying half decade in No. 10. Expelled from Scotland, drubbed in Wales, knocked out of contention in great swathes of England north of the Wash, during these stale decades, you have seen your core support grey and die off, and won few new friends in the intervening years. 

While there have been bright spots and incidental victories during the rotting of Gordon Brown’s trouble-prone, listless and disloyal government, even facing down a Prime Minister sagging under the weight of his demons and his personal unpopularity, even then, featherweights Cameron and Osborne still could not win their majority. Votaries may continue to be laid at the Thatcherite shrine, but the Iron Lady’s electoral success continues to elude her true blue heirs and successors. Today, Cameron would give his eye teeth for Major’s 1992 numbers, taking 336 seats to Kinnock’s 271. Even the most optimistic polling current projections put the Conservatives short of the 326 required for a working majority. 

And while the destruction of the Liberal Democrats may bring a glad twinkle to the Tory eye, without Nick Clegg’s support, the party is without viable friends and allies. Comrades of the past, the Ulster Unionists, have had their own substance devoured by the DUP. The Greens, the SNP, and Plaid Cymru, will not touch David Cameron’s party with a bargepole.

UKIP is the viper nestled in the Tories’ own bosom, laid by the Thatcherite indictment of the European Union, and incubated by the divisive years of internal conflict between "the bastards" and John Major. While prominent party figures have attempted publicly to repent of their past backwardness, racism, villainy, and social illiberalism, even broadly sympathetic fellow travellers like Hugo Rifkind maintain that the nasty party has not "modernised", to shed its habits of mind, and skin. 

Frustration in response to these setbacks and failures is an understandable reaction, but the Tory party and its cheerleaders in the media seem incapable of self analysis. In the Daily Mail, Max Hastings inveighs against the "Stalinist" SNP.  Nicola, he suggests, is "red in tooth and claw", and that "the terrifying prospect of the Scots ruling England is all too real." Conveniently absent from his tirade is any recognition that English MPs constitute a whopping 86% of the House of Commons. 

If Hastings’ beloved band of reactionaries, bigots, merchant adventurers, and conscienceless asset strippers cannot command the support to form a majority government, that is not attributable to "Scots ruling England", but to the failure of the Conservative Party to convince more than a third of the English electorate to support them. Notice that Hastings, slyly and with deftness, associates "England" with Tory successes.

It may be helpful to remember than in the 2010 election, the party won only 39.6% of the vote in English constituencies and 298 of the 533 seats contested. If the current polling is to be believed, David Cameron will have to be content with an even smaller share of the vote in May. Forgive me if I fail to regard that as a decisive mandate and an injustice to the Plain People of England for the Nats to have any say in the future direction of the United Kingdom.

Instead of engaging in self analysis of the failures of the once dominant Conservative party, the neurotic British right always find a convenient sacrificial victim for the wicker man, be it a Lib Dem MP refusing to vote for some madcap Tory scheme, or European politician or bureaucrat or judge, who prevents the mandateless, majorityless Conservative party from swaggering around like a party with a thumping endorsement from the whole people of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

If you want an explanation for that missing majority, Mr Hastings, look to yourself and to your fellow travellers. It is tempting to see these victim fantasies and outbursts in terms of Freudian transference. Addressing the underlying source of frustration is too tricky -- a scapegoat relieves the frustration, but leaves the underlying source of anxiety unaddressed. For the grousing Tory, bereft at the idea that a majority if beyond them, it is always someone else’s fault, and the nasty party is always being hard done by. So much for the Tory tradition of taking responsibility for your actions...


  1. Frankly, as I have said elsewhere, the tory media are neofascists. Perhaps not so much neo...

  2. Disgusted with the Guardian, Steve Bell and the Guardian moderators today.

  3. What they have done is far worse. They have painted Scotland into a corner, that no matter how it votes, it will be seen has having undue influence. They did it without thinking about the consequences, they did it, not because they need Scotland vote, but they desperately need to re-engage with the English electorate. They have chosen to do this by scaring them shitless that the Scots are coming.

    But they lost the English vote because they have literally given them nothing to vote for, but a binary choice between team evil and team stupid. They have garnished this insanity by declaring the the nasty Scots are either A: going to impose team evil on you or B: they are going to impose team stupid on you. Scotland must be stopped at all costs. All the while the derailed train wreck that is Scottish labour, is still witlessly going around claiming only a vote for them can keep Cameron out. Sort trying to put out a fire by pouring petrol on it.

    This could be the death throes of a sclerotic system that has only ever seen Scotland as a piggy bank to be raided. As a paragon of Better togethers quaint "roll and sausage, best of both worlds happy clappy union" well - the term Epic Fail springs to mind.

    It is easy to look back at the last four years and get incredibly angry at what was said and done. Whatever made them think they could lie so brazenly and never be called out on it?

  4. Andrew: 'It may be helpful to remember than in the 2010 election, the party won only 39.6% of the vote in English constituencies and 298 of the 533 seats contested.'

    In Scotland the percentage was 16.7% to gain 1 of the 59 seats contested. For just 3% more, the SNP got 6 seats. While for 1% less than the SNP, the Libdems got 11 seats.

    Politics is often like life, no’ fair.


    Andrew quoting Max Hastings: "the terrifying prospect of the Scots ruling England is all too real.” Max is quite Mad these days but would not have been out of place in Jacobean London. In some Elysian field (behind the Catholic fence) Guy Fawkes is doubtless nodding his head and remembering his confessed desire to Jamie Saxt, ’ ‘Our intention was to blow back the beggarly Scots to their native mountains.’

  5. I like this bit: "Notice that Hastings, slyly and with deftness, associates "England" with Tory successes." Dead right. The Tory Party is not England.

    By the same token, the SNP is not Scotland and attacking the SNP's failings (and they are many) is not "talking Scotland down".

    Perhaps your next blog could be on the propensity of right wing (small n and large N) nationalist parties to claim an overlapping identity with the motherland - and the potential consequences thereof?

    1. What about the propensities of left wing national parties?

    2. Don't see any in this election, but nice to see you agree with me about the SNP/Tory nexus.

    3. SNP/Tory nexus?

      There is no nexus. Take a look at the media, particularly the English media. Who is being regularly attacked for being in the SNPs pocket? The tories? No. Its labour. Who is literally being shown in the pocket of the SNP. Its Miliband. Have you seen that disgraceful story in the UK version of the SUN. It's not Cameron getting his nuts crushed in that one. The commentators & pundits aren't talking about an SNP/Tory alliance - they're talking about an SNP/Labour alliance.

      The tone of the last few weeks have become more disturbing. Now they are demonising the Scottish electorate, for wanting undue influence on parliament. They are attacking the Scots directly now, not the SNP. Between the two of you, you have painted the Scots into a corner that regardless of how they vote, they will be seen as imposing a labour government on the UK.

      The only party heading for possible defeat in may that seems utterly clueless about this, is labour. And then there is Scottish labour chanting "Vote labour keep oot the Tories" like it was a magic chant - all its doing is reinforcing the view that Scots are going to be the kingmakers this time round and it won't be the Tories that benefit, it will be labour. This is being sold as a bad thing, in case you have not been paying attention.

      You people are so convinced there is a secret deal to let the Tories in, you can't even see that Cameron has stitched you up. There is now the very real danger that your support in Scotland, whether it comes from the SNP or a strong turn out for labour is killing your prospects in England.

      This means Cameron has already won, on the back of that fear of Scotland's influence. Or your boss will form an alliance with Cameron to keep the SNP out.

  6. This is absolute nonsense created by the gerrymandering of seats in a completely biased FPTP system.

    In 2005 Labour pulled in 9.55m votes, representing 35.2% of votes counted* and got 355 seats.
    In 2010 the Conservatives got 10.7m votes, 36.1% of votes counted* and got 306 seats.

    It seems to me the problem here is not the lack of appeal of Conservative views (although it bloody well should be) it's the electoral system that is fixed to bias cities and other places where there slight majority swing seats and not rural areas where one party may dominate.

    1. * I say "counted" because your 'none of the above' spoiling of ballot papers (the only one I'd go for) are tallied but never used in any meaningful way, e.g. to reduce the apparent percentages of winning parties.