Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

I must be a swivel-eyed loon then!


Swivel-eyed: Tory leadership attacks own party members

Swivel-eyed: Tory leadership attacks own party members

When I heard on Saturday morning a “senior figure, who has strong social connections to the Prime Minister and close links to the party machine” had called me a swivel-eyed loon for still having the Thatcherite values of family, enterprise and aspiration, which attracted me to the Conservative Party in the first place, I was not surprised.

Since 2005, the Tory Toffs have recaptured the leadership of the Conservative Party, where they see their natural home and indeed they have led the Conservative Party for most of its history. It was only in 1975 the Toffs got pushed aside by a handbag waving grocer’s daughter called Margaret Thatcher, who then went on to win three General Elections in a row, not achieved by any of the Tory Toffs who led the Party before her. It demonstrates the vast achievements of Mrs Thatcher that she not only saved the country but ensured the Conservative Party attracted people into its ranks from all walks of life by her no nonsense rhetoric and straightforward leadership. Lord Lawson puts it well in his memoirs:

‘At a more down-to-earth level, Margaret [Thatcher] was unusual, for a Tory leader, in actually warming to the Conservative Party – that is to say, the party in the country rather than its Members of Parliament. Certainly, that had not occurred for many years. Harold Macmillan had a contempt for the party, Alec Home tolerated it, Ted Heath loathed it. Margaret genuinely liked it.’

However, in 1990, the Toffs had had enough and decided to take their Party back from the peasants swivel-eyed loons and knifed Mrs Thatcher in the front. Apart from the short interlude of John Major’s premiership, we are now, unfortunately, back in an era where the leadership has overt contempt for the ordinary party member and activist.

Chum: Conservative Co-Chairman Lord Feldman

Chum: Conservative Co-Chairman Lord Feldman

By 2005, the Toffs had not only taken their Party back (as they saw it) but had also wrestled back control of the leadership. The metropolitan liberal elite were back in charge. As with any elite, meritocracy is the first thing to go out of the window and instead in comes nepotism. Hence why David Cameron has stuffed his inner circle with fellow Etonians and Oxford men. Andrew Feldman was one of Mr Cameron’s chums and tennis partner at Oxford University so Dave made him Chairman of the Conservative Party when he became Prime Minister in 2010. And for good measure he made him a Lord too.

The unnamed senior figure close to the Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader who, when questioned by three journalists in a Westminster restaurant about the Party’s internal arguments over the Government’s gay marriage bill and Party’s perennial difficulties with the EU said:

“There’s really no problem. The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad swivel-eyed loons.”

The three journalists – James Kirkup, Sam Coates and James Lyons – who spoke with the Conservative Party “senior figure” have Palace of Westminster Lobby passes, which means they can have little tête-à-têtes with MPs in Members’ only areas in the Houses of Parliament – but they cannot reveal their sources under “Lobby rules”. However, it has been alluded across the mainstream and social media the source of the damning quote was Lord Feldman. Lord Feldman has strenuously denied he made the comments and has threatened to sue the three journalists. At the present time, no writ has been issued.

Frankly, the suspicion the leadership detest ordinary party members and volunteers is not news. The evidence has been around for some time. Before the Coalition with the Yellow Peril was formed the high command tried to ban party members from a say in electing their leader, they imposed “enlightened” metropolitan liberal candidates on Tory Associations in the shires and market towns of England and for many years ordinary members have no say at Party Conference and are merely there as a “rent-a-crowd” for the TV pictures. Once David Cameron became Prime Minister he went further in his disdain for the values of true Tories by concentrating Government time on gay marriage and wind farms rather than fixing the crashed economy.

Even before the “swivel-eyed loon” comment the damage had been done. The first rule of party management is to lock in your base then branch out to people who would not normally support you. Without people to stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets and knock on doors, you don’t have a political party. David Cameron and his Eton and Oxford chums have done the complete opposite: offending the base and desperately trying to win over people who will never vote Tory. As a result, there will be severe consequences: by May 2015 the Conservative Party will lose a fifth General Election in a row, David Cameron will retreat to a consultancy in the Cotswolds and it will be left to the voluntary party (those that are left) to pick up the pieces. Aren’t our leaders just charming, eh?

Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

6 thoughts on “I must be a swivel-eyed loon then!

  1. Gavin are you really suggesting that there is nobody in the Ipswich Conservative Association who fits the description of “swivel-eyed loon”?

    The desire to take away the leadership vote stems from those in the hierarchy who believe that the voluntary party should never have voted in Iain Duncan Smith back in 2001 – those same hierarchy who removed him as leader in a Coup d’Etat. At the time I seem to remember some, possibly including you, felt it was clearly the right thing to do as IDS was leading the Tory party down a blind alley.

    IDS was leader when “metropolitan elites” were imposed on the local associations – Iain Dale was selected for North Norfolk, for instance, and it upset a lot of members when they realised he was gay. At the time I seem to remember some, possibly including you, thinking how backward these people were.

    Ordinary members lost the right to “have their say” at Conference in the 1980’s. So that’s something you can lay at the door of the Sainted Margaret.

    I don’t know about you, maybe I was speaking to the wrong people, but I found that most Tories I’ve spoken to this weekend felt that they could identify “swivel-eyed loons” amongst their ranks – and amongst the ranks of other parties as well. There was also a certain mistrust of what newspapers report that Conservatives have supposedly said.

    One person I spoke to, who knows Lord Feldman very well indeed, told me that he would be very very surprised if he had said what is alleged to have been said by him. Maybe your anger at the leadership (for not gaining more seats than the party has ever gained before and winning from a long way behind) is clouding your judgment.

  2. Quite, Ben. Who else as leader would have seen us gain an unprecedented hundred net seats and land only twenty short in 2010? One more push.

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  6. Great content, thanks for sharing !!

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