Robert Tyler argues that the Right’s recent electoral successes really are attributable to right-shifting opinion, and not mere anti-incumbency
Before the German elections I wrote about my concerns about whether recent trends in elections were to do with anti-incumbency, more than an ideological swing to the Right. Well, a few weeks have passed, and I can now safely, and gladly, say I was wrong.
It does seem that recent elections have seen the ‘Rise of the Right’, as people turn to principles of Austerity and Sound Money over High Borrowing and Higher Taxes. However, I don’t believe that the Conservative Party here in Britain can replicate the results, for several reasons.
Firstly is that, in most cases, the Right’s leadership has been strong. Tony Abbott in Australia became a household name for his tough leadership and equally tough policies. His harsh criticism of the sitting Government helped him a lot and, instead of blaming their legacies, he assassinated politically the two characters he was up against.
The same is true of Frau Merkel’s re-election. She proved herself to be a strong leader and even managed to create a quasi-cult of personality with her now famous “A Safe Pair of Hands” poster in central Berlin. She also managed to prove herself to be a strong leader throughout her first term. Something that Cameron has yet to do.
The second thing that allowed these parties to succeed was unity. In Germany people turned to the CDU and the AfD when they realised that the other centre-right party (the FDP) was disorganised and un-unified. Many core supporters couldn’t support the leadership (of the FDP), and so turned to the truly unified CDU.
Same story in Norway, where the Left could not get unified, yet the Right managed to create an opposition electoral pact out of four right-wing parties. Which, as it turned out, was far more than they needed, as the proposed coalition is between only two of those parties.
In the UK, the Conservatives are, at the moment, far from unified. UKIP aren’t helping either. As a result the UK’s right-wing parties could end up causing a situation similar to that in Canada, or even similar to that of the infighting that caused the GOP to suffer during the 2012 Presidential Elections.
A third and final common trait that these successful conservative parties had, which the Tories lack, are conservative or at the least libertarian principles. In Iceland the Independence Party promised to introduce tax cuts and to abandon any ambitions of joining the EU, and people voted them in. In Australia, Abbott also stood on solidly right-wing policies that appeal to the general population. Although I disagree with his stances on same sex marriage and immigration, I also understand that it’s about pleasing the electorate, not the academics. And if the electorate want a social conservatism, then the public will vote for it.
It’s these three traits that the Conservative Party in the UK lacks: these three traits that have enabled the recent ‘Rise of the Right’. If the Tory party wants to win in 2015, it’s time to take a few pages out of the big book of global politics by going back to the grassroots and listening to them. By making the effort to conclude a workable pact with other like-minded parties. And by showing that it has a leadership that is both strong, and supported. Once these three things have been achieved, we know that we on the Right can get back our majority and maybe finally free up the economy the way it should be.
Robert Tyler is a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party and a libertarian. He is the current editor of Bogpaper.com, a free market, laissez-faire blog set up by James Delingpole. His interesting include F1, Northern European and American Politics, and political activism. He tweets as @RGTyler