Captains of the Titanic….
David Cameron and Nick Clegg looked like joint Captains of the Titanic today; loud and proud they proclaimed their doomed ship’s unsinkability while hoping nobody notices them scrambling for the life rafts. The future of this Coalition was never the Liberal Democrats to decide, from the moment they entered it their fate was sealed by a massive collapse in the polls, the ongoing decimation of their activist/councillor base and finally, as has been pointed out to them, the fact that they are a vastly overwhelmed junior partner. The right-wing of the Conservative Party though has a strong numerical base in the Parliamentary Party, amoung the admittedly dwindling Conservative grassroots and finally, strong and potent allies in the media. Following on from the Lords Reform vote it is also clear it has its own independent organisation to rival that of the main Party machine and its lacklustre whipping operation. It has survived the colonisation of bastions like the 1922 committee and come back stronger, leaner and meaner.
Up to this point, it was content to shout from the sidelines and wield the considerable influence it had through pressure alone. Now it has seen the promised land, it is rapidly gathering strength, all in preparation to take it all, to rid the Party of the pesky Liberal Democrats and it is more than prepared to sink Mr Cameron, an increasingly damaged Prime Minister, to get what it wants, outright state power. Cameron and Clegg hug so tightly to each other because their fates are inextricably linked but they are locked in a downward spiral, a death embrace, if the Coalition is destroyed so will they both be, they will lose everything they staked on their union.
It is tempting, from a Labour perspective, to sit back and enjoy the show, however, that would be the wrong, complacent response. Sadly, the Labour Party is riven with complacency. It can’t see beyond its own emotional need to believe it is only a hairs breadth away from power and the end of Cameron and Co. It rarely enters the Party’s hive mind that there are other outcomes to a Ed Miliband premiership. This is especially true when public support for Labour maybe broad but is also obviously brittle. If the Conservative Party were to reinvent itself, to present a radical-rightist agenda then it is well within the bounds of possibility that the country would vote for that because more than ever it needs clarity, a clear sense of purpose and direction and Labour offers none of these at the moment. Also, on several issues, it is clear public sentiment is more in tune with the kind of agenda the Conservative right is capable of espousing, on welfare, immigration, Europe etc, for example. Ed Miliband has treated public sentiment on these issues as being fixed and rather than attempt to change it he has offered timid adaptation and left himself and the Party exposed on several flanks. On the central issue, the economy, the electorate doesn’t like austerity but neither are they convinced by our offered alternative because it’s so hesitantly and timidly offered, so its possible and indeed probable they could be convinced by a ‘blue in tooth and claw’ Conservatism espoused not by an old-Etonian but by a figurehead whose background allows him to put on a more convincing show of empathy.
The IMF projections today show that something fundamental is changing, the old ways no longer work, and the only way to return this country to prosperity and its citizens are actually red in tooth and claw politics and economics. The fall of David Cameron and the Coalition could well turn into a empty, pyrrhic victory, if what replaces it is 10 times worse as the programme for government put forward by the Conservative right will be. Ed Miliband take note……