Friday, July 15, 2005

Facing up to the 21st century

Responding to the news that Craig Mackinlay, one of the founding members of UKIP (and originally an Anti-Federalist League parliamentary candidate in 1992), has decided to join the Conservative Party, Francis Maude, the Party Chairman said that this move underlined the
“… growing conviction that the Conservatives are the only party properly equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century”.
Well, if so, it is not showing its equipment to its best advantage. They have just lost at Cheadle, a by-election they were reasonably confident about and they have not won a single by-election seat for twenty-one years.

While they were in power there was some excuse as people routinely vote against the government in by-elections. But, in case Mr Maude has not noticed this, the Conservatives have not been in power since 1997.

They have lost catastrophically three elections, getting about 1 million votes fewer in the third one of these than in the first, at a time when the government remains highly unpopular.

What has Mr Maude said that would make one believe him that under his chairmanship the party is “properly equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century”?

Have we heard anything sensible on the question of the London bombs and the identity of the bombers? I think not.

Do they know how to deal with the ever more insistent issue of Britain and the European Union?

Have the Conservatives uttered a single word (apart from Ann Winterton’s questions) on the subject of defence procurement, which, as my colleague has shown, is spinning out of control?

Come to think of it, have they said anything as to the role of Britain in the twenty-first century and its complex conflicts? Not that I recall.

All we get is endless speeches and presentations about how the Conservative Party must be facing/is facing/will be facing the twenty-first century. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the century is with us and its problems are already multiplying. How about actually facing up to them instead of talking about it?

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