Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Edward Leigh on the core Tory vote

Rightwing Tory Edward Leigh - pictured left - reckons that Cameron’s determination to New Labourise the Conservative Party will cost votes, if not the next election itself:

‘"Going too far to attract the floaters is a very high-risk strategy," Mr Leigh said.

‘He bluntly told Mr Cameron that "freezing out" the Tory right wing and the core vote could lead voters to think there was no difference between the main parties.’

It’s probably too late already, mate. But go on:

‘Writing in the parliamentary House Magazine, Mr Leigh said the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election in June, in which the Tory majority of 13,342 was slashed to 633 by the Liberal Democrats, was a warning to those "who in their understandable enthusiasm to reach out to the margins, think we can ride roughshod over the core" …

‘If the 633 voters who enabled the Tories to win in Bromley were persuaded to switch to a fringe party, or simply abstain, then the 'big suburban yawn' will become the yawning jaws of a fourth electoral defeat."’

Leigh is effectively admitting that the Conservatives are still basically Nasty Party of the provincial petty bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, his fears are probably overdone.

Consider New Labour's experience of well over a decade’s sojourn in traditional Tory territory. In England, anyway, most of the disaffected ‘heartland vote’ – the awful euphemism dreamed up by Blairites unable to utter the words ‘working class’ – notably has not gone for the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Alliance or Respect, even when it has had the chance. Alienation breeds abstention. Voters stay at home.

The relative success of the Scottish Socialist Party aside, the best efforts of the far left have cost Labour perhaps a handful of seats. There is no reason to suspect that UKIP will have any more success.


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