We are all conservative now, say the polls. But the Tories and Labour are still neck-and-neck.
While under Labour the economy was in the doldrums, it now grows faster than anywhere else. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Tory efforts to rein in public spending are hugely popular. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Tory attempts to reform the welfare state are warmly welcomed by most. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Three in four back the Tory-promoted benefits cap. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Most people are comfortable with university tuition fees, and they don’t think the NHS is doing all that badly. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Only 10 per cent have problems with Tory plans to limit the availability of benefits for immigrants. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
Dave’s personal popularity is much higher than Ed’s. But the two parties are still neck-and-neck.
How can one make sense of this paradox on wheels? My normal tendency is to question the underlying assumptions if they are contradicted by facts.
One such assumption is that the British are conservative. They aren’t. Decades of socialist policies, whoever was in charge, haven’t just undermined the economy. They have corrupted the people.
In parallel, decades of socialist education have produced a generally dumbed-down populace unable to think logically and connect cause with effect.
Incapable of understanding the shambolic nature of an economy financed by the printing press, the people are prepared to accept that the economy is a success – even if they themselves aren’t doing fabulously well.
Still, since they themselves aren’t doing too badly, they claim they are in favour of conservative-sounding policies. But this is strictly an ad hoc reaction, one not springing from any deeply felt beliefs or strongly held convictions.
Underneath it all, the Brits have been Pavlovially conditioned to love the culture of care, share and be aware that has been methodically shoved down their throats for several generations.
Out of sheer politeness they may curtsey towards the Tories and, in a catastrophic situation, such as the one that existed in the 1970s, they may even vote them in. But, while the Tories have to pay for their votes with irrefutable arguments, Labour socialists get theirs for free.
Hence it’s entirely possible for a comprehensively ‘educated’ chap brainwashed by Tay-Vay propaganda to profess affection for every plank of the Tory platform and yet vote Labour on 7 May.
The Tories only ever win elections when they demonstrate a clear difference between themselves and Labour, and when the circumstances are such that people are temporarily prepared to accept that this difference is what’s needed.
Only then is the electorate prepared to put its innately socialist instincts on hold. But make no mistake about it: their instincts are indeed innately socialist.
I am generalising here, but the very term ‘general public’ suggests the intellectual validity of such a blanket approach. Generalising about individuals is always wrong; generalising about the mob seldom is.
Yet undeniably many people stick out from under the blanket generalisation. They are the intuitive conservatives, whose number is still large, if nowhere near the size suggested by the polls.
It is from this group that the Tories have traditionally drawn their core support, which brings me to another premise that the pollsters have got wrong.
Such intuitive conservatives no longer feel that the Tory party is on their side. And, to dispel another underlying assumption, this feeling may have little to do with the party’s economic ideas or even performance.
“It’s the economy, stupid,” pronounced James Carville, Clinton’s strategist, and in the American context he was right. Yet this maxim doesn’t apply to Britain unequivocally, if at all.
Such economic givens as free trade, small state, open markets, free enterprise and entrepreneurship are traditionally Whig, not Tory. The Conservative Party only began to espouse these virtues, somewhat reluctantly, in the 1970s, when it was taken over by an out-and-out Whig Margaret Thatcher.
Until then the Tories had practised a sort of paternalistic socialism, often to the detriment of economic performance. The party felt that it wasn’t just, or even primarily, the economy, stupid.
Other things mattered more: social and political order to be preserved, traditional morality to be upheld, cultural cohesion to be fostered, historical religion to be built on, the realm to be defended.
In the last 40 years or so, intuitive British Tories have added to their principles some of those espoused by Margaret Thatcher, largely because of her electoral success.
Similarly, fire-eating Labourites accepted Blair’s shift, more in word than in deed, towards some of the terrain previously occupied by the Tories. But their heart wasn’t really in it, and neither, I venture to guess, are the Tories unreservedly committed to economic Whiggery.
Those other things I mentioned count for much more, and it’s there that they feel betrayed by Dave’s take on Toryism.
Dave is, to be sure, facilely intelligent, in a PR sort of way. But he lacks wisdom and a real capacity for serious political thought.
Otherwise he would have realised how deeply, possibly irreversibly, he damaged his party’s chances by introducing his cherished homomarriage legislation, along with other measures springing from the box of historically anti-Tory tricks.
Social and political order: he has done nothing to undo the damage done by Blair, for example to the House of Lords.
Traditional morality: see above.
Cultural cohesion: nothing has been done to stem the torrential in-flow of immigrants coming from cultures not just different from ours but often hostile to it.
Religion: it is during Dave’s tenure that the first female bishop was consecrated, a measure that ripped the heart out of the Christian tradition. Soon we’ll be blessed by the sight of two bishops married to each other. They aren’t the same sex for the time being, but another couple of years and who knows?
Defence of the realm: under Dave our armed forces are being downgraded to a point where they become a police force at best. Add to this the on-going destruction of our sovereignty, proceeding apace despite Dave’s pathetic attempts to pretend otherwise.
In short, real Tories don’t see Dave as one of them. That undermines the depth of the Tories’ appeal, while the breadth suffers from the natural inclinations of the rest of the British public.
It is for these reasons that last time around the Tories didn’t manage to score an outright victory against the worst government in British history. And it is for exactly the same reasons that this time they may let in an even worse one.