Toeing the Party Line

Chris GraylingIs anyone else getting just a little bored with the endlessly “on-message” Conservatives? The latest by-election results provided yet another occasion for such dull and artless rhetoric on the part of the Conservative candidate and his election agent, who turned out to be the Shadow Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling. Don’t Shadow ministers have anything better to do with their time than campaign in an area which was a cert to vote Tory?

I mean, the Liberal Democrats might win, but that’ll be the year bloody Swindon win the Premier League and the University of Hull win the Henley boat race. Tory Oxfordshire Councillor Mr Howell said the following:

“The British public has sent a message to Gordon Brown to ‘get off our backs, stop the endless tax rises and help us cope with the rising cost of living.’ It’s clear that the New Labour coalition is falling apart and that the Conservatives under David Cameron’s leadership are on the march.

“It is our agenda of giving people more opportunity and control over their own lives, of making families stronger and society more responsible, of making Britain safer and greener that is setting the pace in politics now.”

I had a few things to say to that. Firstly, the British public didn’t have a vote in Henley, which is singularly unrepresentative of the rest of the country. Secondly, of those that did have a vote, some 49% of them sent the message, “We don’t care enough to vote” – turnout for the election dropped to a mere 50% down from 67% in 2005.

If ‘the Conservatives under David Cameron’s leadership’ are on anything, it’s some serious drugs. The other thing to note would be that Oxford City Council bucked the national trend at the council elections in May, so that Oxfordshire councillor should be put back into the box he came in.

The hyperbole of the Tories doesn’t end there: Chris Grayling declared that it was ‘a very bad night’ for Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Fair enough, Labour got beaten into fifth place but the Lib Dems managed to narrow the Conservative majority – hardly a terrible feat. On the other hand, Clegg’s own brand of rhetoric is even less amusing than the Tory brand.

“Labour’s days are well and truly over and it is the Liberal Democrats who are challenging the Conservatives in the south and Labour in the north.”

What Clegg probably should have said was something along the lines of, “No one really cares what I have to say so I have to make it really bombastic to hide the reality that my Party are in bed with the Conservatives in the south and Labour in the north, representing no alternative whatsoever.”

I don’t like the current Labour government but I despise hypocrisy and sheer ignorant jingoism even more and both the Tories and Lib Dems qualify completely.

  1. June 27, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Surely staying on message is the purpose of the whipping system? To stick to party lines through thick and thin,I thought Labour would surely know this in their current situation?

    And whilst Henley might not have been sending a message, it can definitely be argued that Crewe and Nantwich was… and the local elections… and the London mayor.

    Finally, surely Labour need to start looking at themselves and trying to come up with a strong alternative to, well, themselves! Beaten into fifth by the Greens and the BNP, it’s not looking good for Gordon!

  2. June 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    “my Party are in bed with the Conservatives in the south and Labour in the north,”

    Surely the other way round?

  3. June 27, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Probably Tom – but I think what I was highlighting is that in the south, the LD’s appeal to Tory sentiment, in the north to defecting Labourite sentiment.

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