Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Quote of the day Wednesday 4th November 2015

"The evidence from my post-vote poll is that Conservative voters in 2015 valued competence and leadership. The economy was their priority but they were by no means indifferent to public services. They wanted the government to continue with its economic plan, from which they expected to benefit if they had not done so already. They accepted the need for further austerity (or, perhaps, were in a position where they could afford to be sanguine about it). They were positive and optimistic about Britain and their own prospects."

Keeping this coalition together means that the government must first and foremost do the job it was elected to do: to deliver, as the Conservative manifesto put it,
‘strong leadership; a clear economic plan; a brighter, more secure future’.

That is the job the Conservatives have the mandate to finish. Naturally, the economy will not be the only item on the agenda. The EU referendum, to choose only the most obvious example, could easily dominate proceedings. It is a vital question and the debate will be vigorous; negotiations with other member states will inevitably absorb much government energy, and much of the Prime Minister’s own time.

But perceived priorities matter. Tories must bear in mind that the whole issue of Europe fascinates them to a much greater degree than it does the voters. While the referendum will inevitably divide the party, they must at all costs keep it civil.

What did wavering 1992 voters who plumped for John Major’s promise of opportunity for all and feared Labour’s ‘double whammy’ think when, a year later, the Conservative Party tore itself to shreds over the Maastricht Treaty?

And what would happen if the coalition of voters that elected the Tories in 2015, expecting competence and leadership and steady progress on the economy, were treated to a repeat performance?

The Conservative majority gives the party an unexpected opportunity to connect with those who still think the Tories are not for people like them. There will be plenty of tests too, like remaining focused on voters’ priorities, conducting the EU referendum debate in a civilised manner, and going about welfare reform and further spending cuts in a way that does not seem gratuitous.

Cameron began on the right note the morning after the election, promising on the steps of No. 10 to govern ‘as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom’, and to ensure the recovery ‘reaches all parts of our country, from North to South, East to West’.

(Lord Michael Ashcroft, writing in his analysis of the results of the 2015 General Election, The Unexpected Mandate.)

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