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Tories in trouble

Such is the failure of Labour that one would have expected that the Conservatives would have been firmly set to win the next election. That the opinion polls show such a narrow lead is an indication of the Tories’ own inadequacy. When all they can offer is a vote for change, one must conclude that Britain’s political classes are utterly failing the country. “Vote for change”? Change to what, exactly? But a vague catch-word is the most that anyone is offering. The Greens promise “Fairness” – an equally woolly concept. The LibDems offer nothing of coherence, whilst the NuLab project is entirely discredited If the Tories win the next election, it will not be because people have chosen them, but out of desperation with Labour.

The Conservatives have had thirteen years to get a set of policies together but have wasted their opportunity. This should come as no surprise because the party has always aspired to representing two interest groups who are naturally in conflict – the business interest and the landowning interest, to whom they are, as tenants, perpetually in thrall.

In the early part of the twentieth century politics had a closer mapping to economic reality. The Conservatives represented the landed interest as rent collectors, at that time mostly the old aristocratic families, who have not gone away but have been joined by corporate interests including the banks. Business and labour, who share a common interest as wealth producers, were united in the Liberal Party, with a policy to break the power of the landowning interest, through the taxation of land values. This led to the constitutional crisis of 1909-1910.

The rise of the Labour Party, and the first world war, broke the Liberals and drove the business community towards the Conservatives. The association has always been artificial. The Liberals lost their identity and became another socialist party when they merged with the Social Democrats. Since then they have been unable to cobble together a coherent policy.

One of the things that is needed is a political regrouping. Another is to break the stranglehold of the private and corporate landed interest through the policy which you can sign up to on the Number 10 web site

But what does all this say about the country? It is too much to suggest that political culture is now operating in an intellectual and moral vacuum? And what happens to a vacuum? In the end it gets filled up with anything that happens to be available. That is dangerous.