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calendar   Saturday - March 02, 2013

Conservative leadership has never been so divorced from its supporters

There isn’t any reason I can think of, that an article about a Brit by-election would be of any interest to anyone outside the UK.  (I don’t know why I continue to use the term UK when they might not be any more united than the US. Hmm. Old habits I guess.)
Anyway .... there was an important election yesterday in our area, and what interested me was not so much that, as this piece in today’s paper.

Substitute Republican (USA) for the Brit word Tory, who are supposed to be the conservatives over here, and you’ll soon see what I mean. 
While the Lib/Dems sadly won, with the help of lefty labour voters angered by their own party, as well as very good organization by the Libs, which seem to be their forte’, the party of some very serious conservatives fed up with the Tory party and their conservative lite agenda, made a very good showing.  They in turn had lots of support from disgruntled members of the Tory party. In fact, they received more votes then the party in power.

Nothing really new I guess.  Just a different locale with the same kind of problem due to inattention. Among other things better covered by Drew here at bmews yesterday.


The hapless Tories were doomed from the start

By Andrew Pierce

SATURDAY MAIL

The omens were not good for the Tories from the first day of the campaign. An advance guard of four MPs arrived in Eastleigh buoyed by opinion polls which showed they could recapture the seat from the Lib Dems making it the first by-election victory of its kind for a governing party since 1982.
The MPs rang the intercom buzzer at campaign HQ to get into the first-floor office. And waited...and waited. There was no one in. So they walked into the town centre and passed the Lib Dem HQ on Eastleigh High Street.

The building was festooned with balloons, windows were plastered with posters of their candidate, and a constant procession of people was going in and out.
During the three-week campaign the Lib Dems ruthlessly exploited the fact that they hold every council ward in the constituency.
Armed with local knowledge and canvassing records, the Lib Dem volunteers ran a disciplined operation which focused on issues relevant to each neighbourhood.

Their strength mirrored the Tories’ weakness. The Tory association is moribund.
The leader of the four-strong Tory group on Eastleigh council (the Lib Dems have 42 councillors), Godfrey Olson, is 83.

Telephone calls to the Eastleigh association HQ go through to an automated voicemail message which makes no reference to the Tory Party or the by-election. Since winning by-elections depends on getting your vote out, the Tories were fatally wounded by the disintegration of their activists’ base.

The campaign team, led by Stephen Gilbert, who is Mr Cameron’s political secretary, also made a serious error of judgment in the way they deployed their candidate, Maria Hutchings. 

She was effectively gagged by her London media minders who feared she would stray off message.
Yet Mrs Hutchings was a candidate with a rare quality: authenticity.

Her outspoken opposition to gay marriage and hardline views on immigration and Europe may have jarred with the metropolitan cabal of advisers that surround the Prime Minister, but they would have played well on the Eastleigh doorstep and helped neuter Ukip. 

There were practical problems too. The Tory computer system – the vital link between local associations, their electoral registers, their known supporters, and Tory HQ in London – crashed in the first week. At the Lib Dem HQ money flooded in every day with donors given a name check on the party website.
While Eastleigh was fleetingly mentioned on the main page of the Tory HQ website there was no by-election donations’ button. Every Tory MP was ordered to the constituency at least twice but they were ignorant of local issues.

All the early signs suggested a Tory victory was possible. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Chris Huhne, a serial liar and philanderer. In the last ten days Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, has been engulfed by criticism of response to scandal surrounding Lord Rennard.

And, at the start of the week the Lib Dems slumped to a record low of eight points in a national opinion poll. Yet still the Tories could not win.

The inquest is already under way with one senior strategist saying: ‘For two years we knew that Huhne might have to resign so we… should have been crawling all over the constituency to make our presence felt. But we did nothing.’

The real significance of the result is the fact many more local Tory associations are in the same state as Eastleigh.

Party membership is plummeting but instead of trying to reconnect with his grassroots Mr Cameron antagonises them. By continuing to support higher spending on aid, threatening to build on the Green Belt and, most of all, by backing gay marriage, he is ensuring membership falls still further.

Eastleigh is the most graphic evidence to date that the Tory leadership has never been so divorced from its supporters.

-30-


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/02/2013 at 10:20 AM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsUK •  
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