The Conservative Party has been desperately trying to rebrand itself. It’s a modern ‘caring’ party. This isn’t the party that fucked over half the country during the 1980s, oh no! It’s not the party of Section 28 any more.
At a first glance, you could believe it. David Cameron has spent a lot of time talking about green issues and social inclusion. The New Labour project managed to turn around the Labour Party from being completely unelectable to being the party of government for the last 13 years. If Labour could do it, why not the Conservatives?
And if you’re in favour of smaller government, smaller taxes, then the New Conservative Party might seem like a good choice.
Except it’s not. The New Labour project worked because of the nature of the Labour Party and the Labour movement. The centralised collectivist nature of the party meant that they could more easily direct the fundamental changes required to move away from being business-antagonistic to business- (and voter-) friendly.
The Conservative Party can’t enforce those same kind of changes on their constituencies. The individual constituencies have a great deal more power and mostly they’re still run by ‘old Conservatives’. They’re not interested in hugging a hoodie. They’re not interested in equality and diversity. They don’t care about ‘green’ issues – they’re not a bunch of hippies!
The leadership debates have, in many ways, worked in the Conservative Party’s favour, by presenting the most broadly acceptable face of the party: David Cameron. It helps to reinforce the idea that a British General Election is like an American Presidential Election, where you’re voting for the person you believe will lead the country best.
You’re not. Unless you happen to live in Witney, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, or Sheffield Hallam you don’t get to vote for any of the people in that debate. The Prime Minister is not chosen by you – it’s chosen by whatever internal party leader election system the party in government has. You’re voting for a local candidate, who may or may not have anything to do with the message being pushed by the party central office.
Maybe you live in Sutton and Cheam and you’re thinking of voting for a Compassionate Conservative. But your local candidate for the Conservative Party is Philippa Stroud, who hates gay people. (And believe me: anyone who claims to ‘cure’ homosexuality hates gay people. Ignore anything they say about ‘loving the sinner’ – it’s all hate.) Is that who you want to vote for? Look at the record of the existing Conservative MPs on LGBT issues. Does that reflect David Cameron’s sudden conversion to supporting Gay Rights?
Make no mistake: if you think you’re voting for David Cameron, it’s more likely that you’re voting for Philippa Stroud. If you want a Parliament that thinks gay people (along with anyone else who doesn’t fit the template of ‘normal’) are possessed by demons, that probably suits you just fine. But it does mean that you’re a bit of a cunt.