The media are obsessed with a Tory crisis. And why not? It’s a good story. The Telegraph is cheerleading the circus. It gave exhaustive coverage to the absurd hen-fight in Westminster North; on Monday it reported on more ‘rumblings and grumblings’ in the shires; yesterday, their subject was David Cameron’s heavy handed response to the ‘backwoodsmen’; and today Simon Heffer collates these events into the conclusion that ‘even if Mr Cameron doesn’t see how disenchanted the public is by its lack of lack of choice and his lack of definition, many of his MPs do. The ride is about to get rocky.’
By accident or design, the Telegraph’s analysis is consistent. If there is such a thing as ‘Cameronism’ it is conflicted. British institutions will be decentralised by a governing party whose organisation verges on the autocratic. Correctly, the Telegraph criticises the leadership’s singular disregard for agenda other than its own, which insists on anti-meritocratic A-lists – a contrivance held predominantly in contempt beyond the chichi enclave of Notting Hill.
As James argued in the magazine recently, CCHQ’s arrogance may have engendered the slow gestation of a backbench revolt, but that remains some way off. A Tory crisis in the present is an illusion; the party is resurgent.
The sudden devastation wrought on Labour by the Tories’ co-operative policy is evident in James Purnell’s waffling riposte. The validation of Tory economic policy, such as it is, from 20 leading economists and Sir Richard Branson provides a substantive alternative to the voluble, brilliant but wrong incantations of David Blanchflower. Cameron has returned to form at PMQs and Gordon Brown is reduced to giving lachrymose interviews to his friend, Piers Morgan. Resigned to defeat and ideologically exhausted, ministers hurl bland invective at Conservatives via Twitter. And even a Com Res poll indicates that the Tories are on the up, polling at 40 percent with an 11 point lead. The Conservatives were truly awful in January. They awoke to the New Year as staggering drunks; it’s mid-morning now and their hands have stopped shaking.