Friday, 4 May 2012

Local Council Elections: Why only conservative policies will win back Conservative voters

Local election results are a harrowing punishment for the Coalition’s last couple of turbulent months in Government. An ineffective Labour Party under weak leadership have claimed council 713 seats, whilst the Tories have made a dramatic loss of 378 seats and surrendered the control of 12 Councils. These results are completely unacceptable for the Conservatives and such a substantial loss could have been avoided.

Those on the Left will exploit this defeat and explain it, incorrectly and misleadingly, as being allusive to the countries anger at austerity measures. This is simply not true. Every indication and poll reveals that the public do accept the need for cuts.

Rewind to this time last year in the Local council elections, despite high unemployment, hard-felt cuts and protests, The Conservatives actually made significant gains of 86 seats and 4 councils, an outstanding achievement for a party of government wielding painful cuts. This is reflective of how competent the Conservatives appeared at the time. Fast forward to this year and it’s a completely different story.

Of course the underlying reason behind this embarrassing defeat is the perceived sheer incompetence and corruption from the leadership in the national party. This all started with the poorly handled Budget in March. Alone this would probably not have proved so costly come elections, but the event was not one in isolation. This has been followed up but bleak economic forecasts and political scandal which has highlighted poor leadership. In short, the elections couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Coalition.

The Conservatives have lost touch and appeal to their traditional voters. The Tories attack on the elderly through the ‘Granny tax’, a product of a poorly presented Budget, is a betrayal of our loyal supporters.  No real Conservative government fails to look after our elderly. The truth is that many, and far too many to be politically forgiving, are disillusioned by a government that tries desperately to appease everyone and succeeds in looking after nobody whilst taking the concerns of our core voters for granted,  because this isn’t a government of principle, it has become a Government of apologists.

The support of House of Lord’s reform is a classic area over which Cameron has led the Tories into the pockets of liberals. Too conscious to appear ‘modern’, Cameron is supporting reform that will see our Upper Chamber taken control over by a bunch of career politicians, under the thumb of their leaders in the Lower Chamber. What’s more is that he and Nick Clegg want to do this without putting it to the public in a referendum. If Cameron wants to claim back our supporters then he must climb down over this policy, which conservative voters feel threatens our parliamentary democracy. This is not a Conservative policy.

Cameron and Osborne must too ease the tax burden of our supporters. The Coalition has failed to do anything to this extent. Those who earn in excess of £25,000 are substantially burdened by high tax demands. Those that earn an income of £50,000 pay a massive £15,000 of hard earned money in tax.  Under no interpretation is this a Conservative tax system. Especially during times of austerity, these policies are an unforgiving attack on our aspirational and hard-working Middle England. To ensure we don’t lose these votes to Labour again, we must not exploit them through unreasonable taxation.  

But the issue that directly affects everyone is the economy. It’s only through Ed Miliband’s weakness and Labour’s serious lack of any credibility over the economy that has seen Cameron and Osborne get off so lightly. When compared to Labour, The Coalition appears business friendly, but in reality they are not pro-business and inadequately Conservative. Osborne’s failure to see through an even lower corporation tax, as well as the top rate of income tax is sheer weakness. This is a party that got elected on a mandate that it will make the tough decisions necessary to recover the economy, yet caved in over the budget out of fear of being branded a ‘Party of millionaires’, which those who they feared would say this, did anyway.

The only threatening opposition to this Government is coming from their own Conservative back benchers and voters. Labour are up to nothing, yet are being rewarded for the Coalition’s own failure. This must be addressed before going into General election in 2015. The only small chance of Labour winning will come from Cameron throwing it away through turning away the genuine conservative vote.

Cameron has to give up the idea that he can appease the left with anything short of socialism. Third-Way social democratic policies only succeed in putting off Conservative voters and the aspirational. Desperate stunts to appear ‘modern’ are work of a party in opposition. Cameron is not in opposition anymore, he is leader of a Conservative Party in government. These Local Council results one would hope can only remind him of this. The only bit of good news is the imminent re-election of Boris as London Mayor. Whilst Boris has retained his supporters, Cameron is leading the national party away from his. This could prove very significant if Cameron’s leadership comes under threat. And it is only by listening to his voters that he will avoid a leadership challenge.