Melanie Phillips

11 April 2010

Rebranded Tories a pale imitation of Labour

Published in: Miscellaneous

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Britain has embarked this week on one of the oddest general election campaigns in memory.

The Labour government under Gordon Brown could hardly have a more catastrophic record to defend. It has bankrupted Britain with astronomical levels of debt. Standards of public services have deteriorated while the number of bureaucrats has soared. Brown's government itself has become synonymous with bullying, corruption and deceit.

Yet despite all this, opinion polls suggest the election result is wide open. David Cameron's Conservative Party is only about seven points ahead of Labour -- scarcely enough to gain an overall majority. The buzz is of a hung parliament, maybe even with Labour gaining the largest number of seats.

With such a discredited government in office, Cameron should be streets ahead. Yet he has still not 'sealed the deal' with the British public. Even after a recent biography of Brown revealed how he flies into violent rages and does not relate to people in a normal way, Cameron's ratings still refused to budge.

Partly, this is because of a widespread mood of 'a plague on all your houses'. But it's mainly because of Cameron himself. People don't generally trust him.

Cameron's election pitch is that the Tories stand for change. But as a poll this week confirmed, voters don't believe Cameron's Conservatives offer a change from Labour. This is ironic, since Cameron has made 'change' his mantra. But what he has sought to change is the Tory party so that it would appear more modern and sympathetic.

He did this by espousing social liberalism and environmentalism. That is because Cameron and his inner circle believe as an article of faith that the reason the Tories have been out of power these past 13 years is that they were not left-wing enough. And so far from offering a change from Labour, the Tories have in fact become more like them.

What has happened to demoralise the British Tories in this way? Remarkable as this may seem, Cameron and his 'modernising' circle remain thoroughly spooked by the party's Thatcherite past. This may seem more than a little perverse, since Margaret Thatcher is one of the most successful Conservative politicians.

But the Cameroons were also mesmerised by the achievement of Tony Blair in keeping the Tories out of power for so long. They thought (wrongly) this was because Blair showed himself so much in tune with non-judgmental, multicultural Britain which wore its heart on its sleeve.

By contrast, the Tories were painted by the media as heartless, racist and selfish -- 'the nasty party'. So to rebrand the Tories as 'nice', the Cameroons espoused gay rights, let their hearts bleed for criminals and imposed radio silence over Britain's uncontrolled rates of immigration.

The result has been that millions of conservative voters have been brutally abandoned. This great swathe of Middle Britain wants a halt to immigration, the restoration of the powers of self-government ceded to the EU (on which Cameron is seen to have broken a promise), and an end to the onslaught on British national identity and morality through 'politically correct reverse discrimination against majority values.

But in today's Conservative Party they find merely a pale-blue imitation of Labour. Not only do such voters feel betrayed; worse still, they don't even trust the Tories to be true to the image they are now projecting.

For because the focus-group-driven Cameroons are aware of the disapproval of core conservative voters, they are tacking to both right and left simultaneously -- saying, for example, that they will take stern measures to reduce the financial deficit and safeguard all social programs -- and so are coming across as incoherent and unprincipled.

They have thus fallen into the greatest of contemporary political elephant traps. For what voters today prize above all is authenticity -- the perception that a politician is utterly true to himself, and that what you see is what you get.

In Australia, that is precisely why Tony Abbott is scoring so well. People can see he is true to his own principles, which he will courageously assert even at risk to his own popularity. Which is why politicians like John Howard and Margaret Thatcher were so successful.

And which is why even Gordon Brown's reputedly violent rages are viewed as evidence that he has passionate and genuine convictions. By contrast, Cameron is regarded as an opportunist -- and one recent eye-opening development shows just how shallow he is.

For the Tories announced that they would create a 'neighbourhood army' of 5000 community organisers directly based on the movement established by Saul Alinsky in the US - and which had employed one Barack Obama.

This was simply astounding. Alinsky was a 'transformational Marxist' from Chicago who believed that the revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. So he invented the 'community organiser' as an apparently centrist figure but who would actually mobilise direct action by the downtrodden masses against their capitalist oppressors.

Why is the British Conservative Party starry-eyed about the most far-Left President ever elected to the White House? Why on earth is it endorsing a revolutionary subversive?

The Cameroons are transfixed by Obama just as they were by Blair for the simple reason that Obama won big. Moreover, the 'community organiser' theme doubtless seemed superficially to dovetail with a key aspect of Cameron's repositioning of the party around the agenda of 'broken Britain'.

Loudly trumpeting the Tories' commitment to tackle Britain's epidemic problems of family breakdown, teenage pregnancy, drug-taking, alcohol abuse and the like has been a way of showing that they are no longer 'nasty' but now sport a social conscience.

But they are so opportunistic and shallow that they don't grasp they have now endorsed a Marxist radical whose agenda was the covert destruction of the West. Then people wonder why voters aren't falling over themselves to vote for David Obameron.

Of course, everything is still to play for. Labour has not had a sure-footed start to the campaign. TV debates between the leaders being held for the first time may change everything.

But at present the real victor in the British general election looks like being 'none of the above'.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography

Books

  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie