Operation Meteor and the continuing Tory disdain for the grassroots

Home Affairs
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Ben Harris-Quinney

Read the original article @trendingcentral.com here.

A spate of recent articles have reported on David Cameron’s behind the scenes mea culpa on the issue of gay marriage.

Now full of hindsight and regret, Cameron has acknowledged (behind closed doors) his catastrophic mistake on forcing same-sex marriage (SSM) on a party that should be by definition diametrically opposed to cultural marxism.

The stealthily placed apologies will have done little to ease the pain for those like me who consistently advised of the damage the nature and practice of such a bill would cause to the party. If the apology was genuine, it would however have suggested that the leadership of the Conservative Party had begun to recognise that a narrow circle of liberal metropolitan advisors are neither representative of Party members or Conservative voters.

If it were not for the issue of the attempt to deselect Crispin Blunt by his local Tory Association, some may have been forgiven for trusting that the Crosby effect had knocked some sense into Cameron and Conservative Party Headquarters (CCHQ), and that the party was headed back to core principles of conservatism and democracy in the run-up to 2015.

A vote to deselect Blunt in Surrey’s Reigate constituency had been called due to a continuing cycle of declining relations with local members following his support of the SSM bill, absence from constituency duties, and prior announcement in 2010 that his marriage was ending.

It remains unclear whether Blunt’s recently revealed homosexuality played a role in the decision to call a vote of no confidence in his candidacy, or his own vote on the SSM bill. The local association cites a catalogue of failures relating to his performance as a constituency MP as the factors behind the challenge. Certainly divorce does not play well in rural Conservative seats, particularly with homosexual infidelity as an aggravating factor, but the minor issues behind the vote should be largely immaterial.

The association independently called for a vote of no confidence. If David Cameron and CCHQ had learned anything from the SSM debacle and the current membership crisis, the local members should have been free to vote without hindrance from the central party.

It was however seized upon by CCHQ, who in a typically ham-fisted fit of pique dubbed their plan to overturn the vote “Operation Meteor” – in reference to the catalyst that is believed to have killed off the dinosaurs. A star studded rally of support from the Prime Minister and senior members of Cabinet were rolled out to support Blunt, and association members were leaned on to vote the measure down.

After the failure of the vote, senior members of the association were advised to step down from their executive positions. A number have already resigned their party membership.

The black box of exactly what went wrong in Reigate remains unclear, though clearly for a vote to remove Blunt as the candidate to be called, a severe split in the local party must have been allowed to reach an insurmountable crisis.

What should be certain is that at a time when the Conservative Party is haemorrhaging numbers, the answer is not to view the core of the remaining membership as dinosaurs requiring the heavy hand of extinction to be gleefully laid upon them from a skyscraper in Westminster.

Of course it is likely that any vote would not have succeeded anyway. A deselection is a relative rarity, but it should be left up to the constituency members who they want to represent them and why, absent of interference. Indeed it boggles the mind that Cameron and his cohorts should have been so active in this process, bearing in mind how unlikely deselection was.

I have spent a decade involved in various levels of British and international politics, and have never witnessed the disdain and vitriol reserved for members of the Conservative Party by its own leaders and central administrators. “Swivel-eyed loons” is the least of the insult.

Those still puzzling as to why an Ed Miliband-led Labour Party remain a solid eight points ahead in the polls should consider that for too long the tail of the Conservative Party has been wagging the dog. Unless there is a shift away from the top down structure and attitude with which the Conservative Party is run, it will swiftly become apparent how little it offers its members. Come election time, they will see how little the members will be willing to offer in return.

Read the original article @trendingcentral.com here.