Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Loser Speaks

Yowser! 82% of the public support the Conservative Party's proposed immigration reforms. Normally, you can't get that much agreement on whether the Sun will rise in the East. Amusingly enough though, support falls when people are told that these are Tory policies. Who'd have thunk that associating an idea with a cesspit of sleazy, vile, corrupt, amoral, perverted, snobbish, treasonous, lazy, deadbeats would tarnish it ?

You may be able to guess which aspect of this the ever-unbiased Beeb emphasises. Equally, experienced Beeb watchers should be able to guess who they went to for a quotation on this situation. Yep - if you guessed Stephen Norris, you are a WINNER. .. Oops best make that 'Leading Tory Steve Norris'. Leading what exactly ? The 'Association of Media-Friendly Potemkin Conservatives' ?
Anyway, Norris sez what the Conservatives really need is a fat, fatuous Northern Uncle Tom to show that they're "different from the party of the past". Considering that the Party of the past won elections, it seems like they're already doing a pretty good job of differentiating themselves.

Needless to say, the not-so-great man's prescriptions are equally asinine. "I worry that some of the issues prioritised so far, like immigration and tax cuts, are designed to appeal to our loyal supporters and won't be enough to persuade the unconvinced." I mean, excuse me Fat Boy, but 82%! Either Tory core support is a lot larger than you'd think, or Norris defines an 'unconvinced voter' as a pot-smoking social worker in Lambeth. Or possibly Norris's talking garbage. Again.

How exactly is Norris qualified to talk about winning over voters anyway ? Norris is the living embodiment of the media/human divide, he's feted in the press as the very model of what the Conservative Party should be, but every time actual, real people get a chance to give their verdict on him, they give him a good kicking. The Conservatives are the biggest party in the London Assembly and they have MEPs in London, so there's no reason why a Conservative can't win, yet every time Norris goes for it, he gets annihilated. Those little sermons about electability would have a lot more credibility if he could ever get, y'know, elected.

Amusing though it is to consider the Grand Canyon size chasm between Norris's posturing and his actual achievements, we shouldn't let the epic scale of his failures blind us to the absurdity of his actual points. Norris would have us believe that we live in a post-ideological world, where the public is turned off by conviction politicians, in favour of politics as therapy and managerialism. Hey - there's not much you can say in favour of Ken Livingstone, but at least he's no Tony Blair. Not only is Livingstone an unabashed moonbat, but his most significant (nay, only) achievement in his first term was to introduce a whole new tax on commuters. If you wanted to test the hypothesis that the public prefers touchy-feely managers over angry and divisive ideologues, then you couldn't do better than a match-up between Norris and Livingstone. So far, the experiment been carried out twice, and both times Norris has been exposed as a flatulent babbler.

Here's the bottom line: Conservatism is popular, Conservatives aren't, so Norris has decided that the answer is to throw ideas overboard and base strategy on charm and personality. Doubtless some would dispute this characterisation, but what else is left after Norris's 'Everything Must Go' modernisation ? A Norris Conservative Party wouldn't argue on the basis of policy, they'd argue on the basis that they would the same stuff as Labour but, y'know, differently. But, again, we should not let the absurdity of the specific position blind us to the moronic nature of the underlying thesis.

Compare and contrast the most successful Conservative leader of the past fifty years with the most successful Labour leader. No one doubts Mr Blair's thespian talents, nor his ability to read the nation's mood, but when it comes to areas such as public sector reform, what exactly has been achieved in the last eight years ? Liberalism has no answer to the failings of, say, the NHS, other than more of the same. Conservatism, on the other hand, really does has something meaningful to say about how to improve public services, yet the modernisers would disavow all that. That's the irony here, for all their supposed devil-may-care radicalism the modernisers shrink away from engaging with the realities of politics. Want to know how to improve schools ? Don't ask Norris. Improving cancer care ? Sorry, he's on his coffeee break. Slag off Baroness Thatcher ? Now you're talking. Then again, Baroness Thatcher was almost a mirror-image of Norris: unabashedly ideological, genuinely radical and straightforward….oh yes, one other thing - she actually won elections.

No comments: