Today the FT reveals the extent of the Tory frontbench’s second… and third… and fourth jobs. Jobs that take their minds off providing a challenging opposition and credible alternative government. It’s a tough issue for Conservatives who have always argued that jobs in the so-called real world keep MPs rooted, so its been left to people like ConservativeHome to quietly complain.
Conservatives are simply not hungry enough for victory and so will not make the necessary sacrifices. And their supporters are not pushing them hard enough either. I thought Nick Cohen would make this point a couple of weeks ago in the Observer, when he argued that Tory voters have never had it so good.
Despite what Cohen does say, all have benefited from a remarkably lengthy period of economic growth and stability, not just Tories. The point Cohen missed was that Labour has simply not hurt natural Tories in the way they hurt natural Labourites. They didn’t like Blair, but they didn’t truly hate him in the way anti-Tories still truly hate Thatcher.
Thatcher ruthlessly and methodically assaulted her enemies, curtailing their rights to organise and protest. The Tories consolidated power in Westminster, while Labour has devolved it to London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and tried to give the English regions voices too. Internationally, Conservative government brought shame on the country, supporting hideous dictators like Pinochet and Saddam Hussein. And to cap it all they were economically incompetent, with the recession of the 1990s deeper than that of the early 1980s. Mass unemployment was tolerated.
Under Labour, Conservatives don’t really have anything much to complain about and so the yen for victory is not yet strong enough.