Tuesday, April 11, 2006
La plus ca change
No matter what way you look at them the Tories are still the same
Are all Tories racist? I doubt it. Are Labour and the Lib Dems totally non-racist zones? I doubt that too. So when 'Dave' was elected Tory leader it looked as if here was a new man to lead the Blues on a new path. And sure he's young(ish), green(ish) - if you discard the private jet and I welcomed his attack on UKIP as 'closet racists'. I have never voted Tory and doubt I ever will, but for Cameron to make this attack was important.
For Conservatism to move into the 21st century it must shed its racist tendencies and the Tories can change easier than most as it has always been unique as being an inherently pragmatic party.
So Cameron attacks and UKIP try to fight back. And at Tory Spring conference Chairman, Francis Maude launches Operation New Tory: "We now need to convince them that the whole party has changed...In the last three elections we only attracted around one third of the voters...So people need to see that the party we are asking them to support now has changed from the party they decided not to support only last May." Surely this point would be stronger if the current leader wasn't the guy who co-concocted last May's Tory manifesto and if the current leader's policy advisor wasn't the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (and Flying Pig) at last May's General Election.
Nevertheless, Maude discusses the importance of having a mixed and varied list of candidates: "We can and we will provide a priority list of outstanding candidates to choose from. It'll be balanced between men and women and it'll include many extremely talented black and minority ethnic candidates. That part we can do from the centre. The rest is up to you, the Party in the constituencies. It's for all of us to show that we're changing." It just sticks in the throat to read this tosh (Maude's speech rather than my blog...), All Women Shortlists and Ethnic Minority candidates are political hot potatoes so the Tories prattle on. What about gay candidates? I bet Cameron would be centre-fold in Attitude if gay candidates became an issue. Adam Rickitt doesn't count (only a gay icon and not a candidate yet) and Alan Duncan only came out years after becoming a Tory frontbench spokesman - the chances of an openly gay candidate being selected by the Tories would be far less than in comparison to Labour and the Lib Dems.
But the Tory Party renewal is put into some context when it is announced 3 days after Maude's fist-pumping morale boost that two Conservative councillors in Preston (Councillors Sharon Riley and Marie Milne) have defected to the Liberal Democrats. I don't like these Benedict Arnolds who shift from party to party whether they be David Owen, Ray Chishti, Shaun Woodward or these two ladies but it doesn't reflect well on the new Tories. One reason given by the now Liberal Democrat Cllrs was the case of the Tory candidate in the upcoming local elections (Joan Howarth) who said she would not want an ethnic minority colleague standing for Parliament. Cameron immediately criticises her by saying "she is in the wrong party", Howarth apologises and retracts her comments and she remains on the Tory list.
Even if 'Dave' is a new breed his party remains choc-a-bloc with all the same racists, homophobes and sexists (to varying degrees) as ever. The Tories have got to realise that it takes more than not wearing a tie to be a new party.
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