The Tories are being unbelievably crap.
In the days Before Blair, I probably would have been a natural soft Tory, if I was old enough to vote. I voted for the first time in 1997. I probably would have voted Labour whoever the leader was, because the Conservative party had completely self-destructed at that point, but Blair taking Labour to the right certainly made it easier.
But if you’d told me then that by 2005, the Tories would still be in such a state that I wouldn’t even consider voting for them, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Picking Hague was daft*, and picking IDS was so suicidal that even Michael Howard, one of the most unpopular politicians of the past 20 years, looked like an improvement. But Howard has looked incredibly awkward and artificial during the campaign. He might almost have done better to be the old nasty Howard rather than trying to present himself as soft and fluffy – at least that way he had some presence.
And the policies! What kind of party, choosing only five priorities for a campaign, includes school discipline and cleaner hospitals? Yes those things are important, but they’re not exactly a visionary manifesto for a new national government. And then there’s the paranoid yammering about immigration, which just serves to alienate people like me, and reinforce the party’s extremist image. And the final two issues – more police and lower taxes – aren’t exactly staggeringly insightful either. The whole package just shouts out nasty-minded paranoia, band-wagon jumping, and knee-jerk bar-room politics. And if I wanted that I could vote for Veritas. Or Respect.
Of course it’s normal for the Tories to be to the right of the Labour party. But a mainstream politic party has to have a foothold in the centre, for people like me. Democracy is no fun if the choice offered isn’t a genuine one.
*I actually think William Hague has a good chance of being PM some time a few years hence and doing a good job of it, but it was a stupid decision at the time.