11 May 2010

Welcome to the Democratic Conservative Alliance Party!

So last night I made a gloomy return to blogging after a long absence, but in the last 24 hours the political landscape has improved for those of us who have longed to see the rise of the Democratic Conservative Alliance Party (DCAP) - a new type of government which looks as though it is about to take is in power in the UK.

In many ways, DCAP is the perfect party of government in the UK.  Far from there being an "progressive majority" in this country, the more considered view is that there has always been a moderate conservative majority, the inheritors of the Whig party whose supporters have been found for the last 100 years in the socially liberal wing of the Tory party and the capitalist wing of various other parties, from the old Liberals, through the SDP, and to an extent, New Labour (RIP).

DCAP is the inheritor of One Nation Conservatism and conservative Trade Unionism - a party which believes in society's responsibility for the those in need but also understands that a strong society is not always, if ever, a function of government. DCAP provides support for all those of every political persuasion who understand that social activism can be an end in itself. Although socially liberal, DCAP respects traditional values and seeks political reform through wider consensus rather than by diktat.  

DCAP may be decried as as a return to Butskellism but against the backdrop of the supply side reforms of the 1980s it will be about regrouping our resources for growth and not managing decline.  For sure, there are tensions, perhaps irreconcilable on European policy, but these too could be healthy since it is unlikely that anyone in Britain (or Northern Europe for that matter) will be rushing headlong in closer economic or political union until much of Europe has undergone the same far reaching economic reform we worked through 30 years ago.

Although David Cameron is its perfect leader, DCAP is a construction of my imagination and two parties will continue to co-exist, cohabiting Whitehall.  If the Liberal Democrats have any sense whatsoever (and after the last 5 days that is very much an unresolved question), they will position themselves as the "voice of reason" on the shoulders of the Tory party and when they next face the electorate take credit for being the moderating influence on a successful government and manage to increase their share of the vote and number of seats.

If the Tories are lucky, the Lib Dems will terminate the relationship over an issue which plays badly for them with the electorate and the Tories will return to government alone.

Meanwhile the Labour Party is retreating to lick its wounds, select its third new leader in as many years, and hoping that DCAP will be a disaster riven with division.  However, it clings to the miscalculation that every Lib Dem vote was an anti-Tory vote.  In many Lib Dem / Labour marginals, it may well have been an anti-Labour vote and Lib Dem incumbents will increase their majorities (as they have done against Tories, despite the national swing) as they paint themselves as progressives who can influence the Tories positively.

Many of us in the Tory party thought a "short spell" in opposition would be good for "healthy renewal" - and a fat lot of good that was.  But history shows that Conservative governments are generally long lasting - the only 4 year stretch was in 1974, which was on the heels of a shock victory for Heath - and I sincerely hope and believe that this one will be too.
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