The “Nasty Party” Stigma Returns

Alex Massie worries that most Brits now see the relatively moderate Tory party as “pretty right-wing”:

tumblr_mgdtu6dVxJ1qg8c5yo1_500The people may be wrong but that’s what they think. And why wouldn’t they? The Tories have been very good at telling the country what they don’t like but rather less good at telling us what they do like. … They’re against foreign judges, foreign workers and foreign students. They’re against people on benefits or in receipt of tax credits and they’re against “free” university education. Worst of all, perhaps, they’re against taxing millionaires and remain blind to the damage cutting the top rate of tax for the very richest Britons has done them. Then, though a little unfairly, they’re seen as being against gay people’s desire to marry each other and, more generally, they’re seen as being against (or at least uncomfortable with) much of modern British life.

And he believes these positions are obscuring the party’s accomplishments:

[T]he government has some good stories to tell. Recent setbacks notwithstanding, there’s a good story to be told about education reform. The same is true of employment growth and even, if the framing is done properly, of welfare reform. But we don’t hear very much of these things and nor do we hear much talk of what the government is actually doing. Instead the party bangs on and on and on about what it is against but only rarely about what it is for.

The Economist pegs the party’s recent rightward shift as a strategy to win a crucial election in a battleground borough:

[David Cameron] would be well advised to consider the party’s dark night of the soul in the early 2000s. In the eminently winnable 2005 election (a time when, polling suggests, Britons were both more exercised about Europe and less socially liberal than they are now), the Conservative Party ran an UKIPish campaign under the slogan “are you thinking what we’re thinking?” Back then the answer from electorally-decisive voters was: “err, no”. The same, it seems, was true in Eastleigh yesterday. The party should be wary of making the same mistake in 2015.

(Image from the tumblr of English teenager Rachel Dawn, who titles it “British politics in a nutshell”)