Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Emergence of the Real Conservative Party?

Yesterday Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home launched a massive broadside on David Cameron calling for the National Health Service bill to be 'killed'. Today, rather than dropping his bombshell and retreating as many would have expected, Tim has taken things further.

This morning Tim has delivered another savage attack with a piece headlined 'Defeat is the defining experience of Cameron's political career', which refers to yet another piece he has written for the Daily Mail titled 'Cameron thinks voters view the Tories as too Right-wing, too male, too white... but they're really seen as people who've never had to worry about money.'


In the past Tim has often challenged the prevailing thinking of the Conservative leadership but he has done it far more subtly and in a far less divisive way. The methods he has used in the past have never really overstepped an invisible line of loyalty..

This is no longer the case.

Whereas in the past, Tim has challenged Cameron and implored him to do things in the future, in my memory he has never attacked him for really defining things he has done in the past - in other words, things that Cameron can't change even if he wanted to..

But now he has. In the Mail piece, Tim not only attacks Cameron but also attacks his approach for finding Parliamentary candidates while in opposition - and therefore also criticises the existence of many current Conservative MPs who won their seats at the last election!

So.Why the change of approach? What is Tim trying to achieve?

Does he really want Cameron to capitulate and drop the NHS bill? Or is he simply trying to force a real debate that will properly explore exactly what this bill is all about and what exactly it's purpose and potential benefits are?

Or is it less coherent than that? Is this just Tim expressing some personal frustration and hitting out wildly?

Or is it actually more serious? Has Tim reached a point of such complete dissatisfaction with Cameron Conservativism that he has chosen this moment to start an onslaught designed to eventually unseat him?

Here's a question. What is it that makes Conservatives, Conservatives? In other words who defines the agenda that others identify with and therefore support and vote for the Conservative party?

It's not a simple answer. It's partly the Conservative Leadership, partly the Conservative membership and the constituency organisations but it's also largely Conservative Home because they, more than anything else, represent and have built the grass-roots of Conservative activism and support.

Tim Montgomerie's efforts of the last few days signal great danger for David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

Tim's message boils down to this - David Cameron is out of touch. Worse, he has surrounded himself with people the broader electorate can't identify with and he is conducting himself in a way that will make the Conservative party fail and become unelectable in the future.

What I suspect Tim is also saying is that unless Dave wakes up and stops destroying what Tim built then he will have no choice but to do it himself... think about it.

'What Tim built"?

Yes. Conservative membership declined massively in the period of opposition preceding the last General  election yet the Conservatives were still able to form a coalition government. This was largely because the support base was built, not by the party machine, but by a parallel organisation - Tim Montgomerie's Conservative Home.

The Conservative party still has the major problem that it is lead by the Prime Minister but it has an entirely independent support base lead by Tim Montgomerie.

Ultimately, unless they can work together, a split is inevitable and then the question is simply, which is the Real Conservative Party?

Time for a cosy weekend for the two fellas at Chequers, or perhaps at Tim's house at Salisbury, I would suggest..

P.S. I cannot disagree with a single thing Tim has said.


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