Yesterday the Tories looked strong – today they look desperate

January 24, 2013 2:35 pm

Yesterday it felt like the Tories were in control. They were united behind Cameron on Europe (for now) and both Cameroons and Fox-ites could look each other in the eye and feel rather pleased with themselves. Ed Miliband’s bungled response to the PM at PMQs will only have increased their pleasure.

Yet only a day later – and the Tory Party is looking rather desperate.

This morning their economic plans – austerity or bust – were slammed by the IMF’s Chief Economist on the Today Programme. Blanchard’s intervention could only have been more damaging for Osborne if he had outed Osborne as a stubborn-minded economic illiterate.

Then last night’s Tory PPB (which they must have been rather pleased with, considering the timing) came under fire after Cameron’s manifestly false claim (or “lie” as they’re otherwise known) that the government is cutting the debt was referred to the head of the UK stats authority and then contradicted by Cameron’s own spokesperson.

But perhaps most desperate of all are the Tory attempts to try and squeeze through changes to parliamentary boundaries (and slash the number of MPs) despite the Lib Dems vowing to vote against them. After all of the bluster yesterday and claims of renewed confidence over the Tory electoral position, their desperation to make boundary changes happen against all odds shows how reliant they are on such gerrymandering to achieve an absolute majority. Apart from anything else, for the vote to pass through the Commons wouldl require several Tory MPs to vote in favour of abolishing their own constituencies. The massed ranks of the “awkward squad” may have been cheered by yesterday’s speech – but it’s hard to imagine any of them voting to make themselves redundant. But Cameron must try anyway – because he feels he has no choice.

From the Euro-high of yesterday the Tory Party has woken up with a hangover to the grubby reality of government – mistakes, criticism and the difficulty of winning re-election in an inhospitable political climate.

And in the cold light of day – they don’t look that strong anymore, do they?

  • Amber_Star

    And in the cold light of day – they [the Tories] don’t look that strong anymore, do they?
    Whereas Ed M looked strong & decisive giving an emphatic ‘No’ to having a EU in/out referendum announced in 2013 as part of a 2015 manifesto. Isn’t it only your opinion that it was a “bungled” response? Douglas Alexander’s ‘never say never’ is the only (very slight) rowing back that I’ve seen. Has there been an updated position statement from the shadow cabinet which I’ve missed?

  • volcanopete

    Why the Tories keep banging on about Europe beats me.Like the rest of the general public I am far more interested in equal/gay/same sex marriage-you get what I mean-which it was announced today will be on the 6th february.A live blog would help myself and other interested people.There are many people of my age who think it is all a step too far.The Defence Secretary has corresponded to a constituent his concerns,if not outright opposition.A good turn out for Labour,especially those who perhaps understand the views of nannas and grandads who perhaps haven’t kept up with social trends-for obvious reasons.There are many of a more conservative-very small c-nature who vote Labour.It is about having decent standards.
    6th February should be a corker.

  • Gabrielle

    I didn’t think they looked ‘strong’ yesterday, despite the best efforts of Nick Robinson and co.

    A perusal yesterday of the comments section in Mail Online – which gives a fair idea of what Cameron’s target audience think – show that they weren’t impressed either. Two particular observations tended to keep popping up. Firstly, that Cameron had made a ‘cast iron’ promise once before which he didn’t keep so why would anyone trust him with this one, and secondly, Cameron was promising the referendum after an election he was likely to lose.

    To further rain on Cameron’s parade, Blair broke his usual silence on British politics to comment on Dave’s big speech:

    “It reminds me a bit of the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles where the sheriff… holds a gun to his own head and says ‘If you don’t do what I want I’ll blow my brains out’.

    That must have genuinely stung Cameron, given his creepy veneration of Blair.

    The likes of Peter Bone and Liam Fox, despite the rebellious noises they make, are still basically tribalists who are desperately willing to swallow any old codswallop from Cameron – although they’re not completely stupid and now probably feel they’ve been ‘had’.

  • Gabrielle

    Apart from anything else, for the vote to pass through the Commons would require several Tory MPs to vote in favour of abolishing their own constituencies. The massed ranks of the “awkward squad” may have been cheered by yesterday’s speech – but it’s hard to imagine any of them voting to make themselves redundant. But Cameron must try anyway – because he feels he has no choice.

    Interesting. I think this difficulty for Cameron also has a lot to do with his rather haughty treatment of his backbenchers. Apparently it’s resented that he rarely makes appearances in the HoC tea rooms to be matey with his foot soldiers. They must feel a bit used and under-appreciated.

    Supposing you’re a Tory backbencher, faced with losing your constituency. Unlike a minister you probably can’t expect to walk into a few lucrative directorships, you’ll just be an unemployed MP who might well struggle to find a job that would keep them in the style to which they’d become accustomed.

    Compare that scenario with retaining your seat but with the Tories losing the election: they won’t be thrilled but at least they’ve still got their job. Perhaps if Cameron had been a bit nicer to them, less of the *arrogant posh boy* (as Nads, whose Mid Beds constituency is up for the chop, memorably put it), they might have taken a hit for the team. But why would they? Good old Tory self-interest would tell them that Cameron never did anything for them, so why try and save his worthless skin? And wasn’t he always a bit too keen on getting into bed with the LibDems? Perhaps he was always a bit of a closet lefty? (We know that last bit’s ridiculous, but that’s the sort of bonkers thing Tory backbenchers think.) Perhaps, they wonder, losing the election would help them get a *real* Tory like Boris as leader?

    All in all, Cameron’s nefarious plans seem to be unravelling – and he’s only himself to blame.

  • aracataca

    How the hell is caving in to the BNP in blazers (namely UKIP) ‘strong’?

    • JoeDM

      The BNP is far closer to ‘old’ Labour than UKIP or the Tories. Just look at their economic policies – nationalisation, high state spending, more progressive income tax, etc….. It is basically a socialist party with added racism and nasty version of nationalism.

  • Monkey_Bach

    All Cameron has to do to persuade some Tory old duffers to vote for their own abolition is to promise them a knighthood, or some similar pointless honour, provided hat they have clocked up enough years as a token MP to end up with a generous pension. If Cameron promises to make everybody call them “Sir” until they die they’ll happily put their empty useless heads on the block, metaphorically, you mark my words.



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