Alex Hilton: Cameron's plan is unravelling

Great efforts have been made to unpick the strategy behind the series of policy announcements made by the Conservatives since Christmas.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton

The difficulty with identifying a strategy is not derived from a lack of consistency. The proposals are almost all either unworkable or too small to have any real impact, and they are uniformly saturated in right-wing rhetoric.

We have learned that a Tory government would cap immigration, turn teaching into a 'noble' profession (most teachers thought it already was), revivify the married person's tax allowance and put the Ministry of Defence in charge of international development.

In terms of strategy, it's difficult to understand why Team Cameron has taken this approach, when the softer, 'cuddly' Conservative line has taken them to 40 per cent in the polls. At 40 per cent, they were pretty much taking the middle ground of politics and looking at a small majority after the election. Taking a tip from the Tony Blair playbook, they should have kept the tanks rolling through the centre ground and to the left in the same way New Labour took the centre ground and then the territory approaching the Daily Mail.

'Core vote' must be the mantra Cameron is hearing from his advisers, but they haven't worked out that, under our electoral system, the core vote only matters when you're losing. It's OK to lose a thousand swivel-eyed loons to UKIP in a given seat if it results in the capture of 2,000 votes from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The strategy the Tories are stuck on seems better tailored to their members and their MPs, rather than the public. They are pursuing a finite number of right wing voters in order to keep their MPs and candidates on side, deemed necessary after Cameron's refusal to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Such a strategy would cap Tory support at around 40 per cent, ruling out a large majority. More crucially, when it comes to whipping his MPs in Parliament, he won't be able to demand they respect a centrist mandate if he refuses to run a centrist campaign.

- Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey.

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