The Conservative Party is known for many things – for being the party traditionally associated with the elite and upper class, for being opposed to the British welfare state, and for policies aimed at stripping back public spending in favour of privatisation. What they are definitely not known for is being nice.
Under Cameron’s leadership, the Conservatives have definitely tried to put on a thin veneer of likability They have attempted to make the party appear nice, caring, and to express the idea that ‘we’re all in this together.’ However, this veneer has been torn apart over the past month, as UKIP’s rise at the conservative party’s expense has shattered the vision of strong leadership from the government, and revealed just how out of control David Cameron is.
So far as conservatives go, David Cameron is not the worst possible choice for leader. Despite his economic policies, he has voiced support for the NHS, and is socially rather liberal, as demonstrated through his support for equal marriage and UK membership of the European Union. However, vocal support for an issue means very little in politics, and his actions have often betrayed a darker side, as he tries to save Conservative votes from UKIP and the party lurches to the right.
This also does not count for the Conservative Party itself, who appear to have reverted to their roots, many of whom are in open rebellion against the route that Cameron appears to wish to take the party. This is particularly evident in the recent debate over equal marriage, in which Cameron was forced to rely on Labour support in order to pass legislation as his own MPs attempted to derail it through an amendment designed to allow civil partnerships for heterosexual couples, which, although admirable, would likely have been used as a reason to delay the equal marriage bill or to trash it completely by many Conservative back benchers.
David Cameron is now being seen as a lame duck, and prominent Conservative figures have been coming out of the woodwork, making comments about debates and developments outside of their areas of government. To me, these are obviously attempts at generating exposure, as the Conservative Party begins its game of thrones to discover who will be taking the leadership spot following Cameron’s downfall. Michael Gove has made speeches declaring himself a ‘compassionate Tory,’ and Theresa May has been backed by many as a future Conservative leader.
The recent challenge from UKIP has definitely been the catalyst for these developments, along with growing discontent with the politics of austerity and the UK’s constant failure to meet its economic targets. Those who support the Conservative Party on economic grounds are finding them to be lacking, and those who support on social policy are finding that UKIP is a much more welcoming home for them, being far more vocally opposed to the comparatively progressive policies held by Cameron’s government. The Conservative Party is right to be panicking, but this visual panic is completely tearing apart any illusion that the party has changed from its cutthroat roots. The Nasty party never left us, and has just been in hiding for all these years.