Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 6 August 2012

Now perhaps the Tories will consult their members before writing their manifestos

One aspect of today's final confirmation that Lords reform is being dropped for this parliament that has not generated much comment is that just such a policy was part of the Conservative manifesto in 2010.

Given this, it is surely quite strange that nearly 100 of the party's MPs were willing to vote against it? It seems clear also that if things had progressed further, more Tories would have lined up against the measure. And when you include ministers who were likely supporting the measures under sufferance it wouldn't at all surprise me if less than half of the Parliamentary Conservative Party in the Commons actually supported this bill.

How has this come about? Surely a manifesto should reflect the view of the members of the party it purports to represent?

In the case of the Conservatives though they have always been a fairly top-down party. The manifesto was written by senior people within the shadow cabinet and their advisers and then essentially presented as a fait accompli. If their MPs and PPCs didn't like parts of it, essentially it is tough luck. They could of course have refused to stand as a Conservative candidate if they felt strongly enough but given the FPTP system that is never very likely to happen as an "Independent Conservative" candidate would just split the vote and probably let one of their opponents in. Far better from the perspective of an aspiring Tory parliamentarian to stand anyway but then oppose once in the Commons from a position of representing the "real Tory" view within the country. The problem is it leaves everyone else wondering where on earth we stand with respect to future manifesto commitments.

I hope that this episode makes the Conservative leadership think again about how their policy-making is formulated. It's all very well being clever-clever, trying to "triangulate" and appear to be "progressive". But if your MPs are not willing to vote for the measures then it just becomes an exercise in obfuscation and ultimately futility. Far better for everyone all round, including the voters to ensure that any future manifesto contains measures that are likely to achieve support within the body of MPs from their party that form the voting bloc within parliament?

Then we will all know what we are likely to be getting, rather than commitments that are then viscerally opposed by the very people who stood for election on the platform formed by them.

1 comment:

WeTheCommunists said...

Let's be honest. It's not the Tories, but the Lib Dems who need to consult their members before getting in to alliance with conservatives. Nick Clegg cried foul during AV referendum. Has he still not learnt the lesson? Have no doubt - Tories are in Government to help their rich pals. They are not here for Lords reforms.
Why is Lib Dems supporting conservatives? Do the honest and respectable thing - get out of the government and try to be a constructive opposition. That will be much much better for this country, rather than supporting this atrocious Government.