I thought it such a good idea to have a six-part blog on the political parties and their election prospects. Yet, now as I come to write the one on the Conservatives I’m realising my shortcomings, in knowledge, insight, and frankly, value. Therefore, I’ll be keeping my words mercifully brief.
The Conservatives, should they be miles ahead in the election polls? Why is David Cameron criticised for being good at presentation, when Tony Blair was not? Do the Conservatives have the talent for government? All questions being asked by the media punditocracy.
So, here goes. Firstly and surprisingly much of the media is hostile to the Tories. Never mind what you hear about the predominance of the ‘righ-wing’ press, it’s a myth. Consider the media lined up against the Tories, the Guardian, Independent, Mirror, BBC, Financial Times, and even the Daily Telegraph can’t be relied on for support. Ok, so there’s The Times – just, Daily Mail, Daily Express, and the Sun as supporters, although the Sun is a notable late convert. Not straight forward is it. Getting your political message through to the public through the press is vitally important. The mainstream press still set the topical agenda.
One area where the Conservatives have built a solid lead over opposition parties is in the use of new media – the blogosphere, the web, and social media. It’s vibrancy is driven by the desire of conservative-leaning people to have their views heard, counteracting the negativity of press coverage to ideas opposite to those of Liberal-Labour London-centric intelligentsia. How much this will affect the election result is unknown by me. It’s sure to have an effect, it engages the activists, like me, so to that extent it’s valuable. No opposition party has anything like the strength and potency of sites like, ConservativeHome, Guido Fawkes, or Iain Dale.
The talent in the conservative team, is it as good as Labour’s? Far more so. I heard quite a few over the past few years, and consider there’s energy, talent and dynamism in the team. I’d pick out, Michael Gove, obviously, William Hague, George Osborne, Philip Hammond, and David Cameron. Have they the strength of will and determination to win power from Gordon Brown? The media is unconvinced, and also, it seems the public are testing the Conservatives too, by not committing to them too early.
The value of incumbency is far greater now than in the past, so the Conservatives have had to plan for a long battle. Even now the contest is not yet called. It could be that Gordon Brown hangs on until early June before calling an election, that’s three months away. The danger for the Conservatives is to use all their ammunition too soon, and yet they need to be using some now, time is short. That cynicism in the electorate and media, I mentioned in Part2, isn’t giving Cameron and his top team any credit for revitalising the Conservative Party, and is making them fight hard for power. Finally, I believe that marginal constituencies will turn Conservative, producing a majority of 35’ish.