By Nathan Lee, Politics and Finance writer
Conservative politics will grab the headlines, but not for the right reasons.
There’s an old adage about societal structure that works rather well in regards to this year’s political party conference season.
The saying goes that the well off in society strive to preserve their position at the top while the middle class attempt to move up a notch and the working class just want equality.
Conservatives will make the headlines this week because they support organisations and people with a voice. Ed Miliband might not have been revered in the press, but at least he made the headlines for the right reasons.
As the Tory’s end the political party season we can expect a push for status quo from Cameron as the the Lib Dems attempt to extend their stay at the top and Labour bang the drum for equality.
Party conference season
The Lib Dem conference notably lacked buzz this year. Like the proverbial middle class, they played it safe and chose not to alienate allies who might better their standing.
They were hesitant to criticise economic policy and spent most of the conference delivering muted statements feeling lucky Britain hadn’t bombed Syria and they’d (marginally) managed to hang on to Eastleigh in the by-election.
Ed Miliband and Labour were smashed by the press over their three days in Brighton, but they made the headlines and largely for the right reasons.
The problem with attacking large corporates, despite standing up for the majority, is that the former carries more media weight over the latter. As I explained here, promoting equality and standing up for the 99 per cent is fruitless if only 60 per cent (or less) turn out to vote.
So while Labour stand for equality and the Lib Dems attempt to better their own position by quietly siding with whomever will take them, this week’s Conservative conference can be expected to be a defence of the status quo. But before David Cameron unites the electorate behind his party, he must first unite his party.
Party before electorate
For Cameron to preserve the status quo, the right of the political spectrum needs to start singing from the same hymnbook. UKIP take Tory votes over any other political party and there’s growing momentum for an electoral pact between the two parties in the run up to the 2015 election.
More than a dozen Tory donors have defected to UKIP and there’s signs of growing discontent over Cameron’s leadership within the party. The vote against Syria rocked his credibility as leader and divisions within the ranks are growing more prominent, and thus more credible.
Lord Tebbit said UKIP would not exist if Thatcher was still leader, but Cameron is more reminiscent of Thatcher’s late days in power, with the party uniting against him.
Politics is a complex game, but there are election-winning fundamentals which play into the hands of the Conservatives. As long as Cameron supports big business he won’t have to contend with teams of angry PR officials who have kicked up a storm over Miliband’s proposed changes.
The economy (should be) well on the way to a fully-fledged recovery by 2015, and while people have food on the table, they feel more content with the current administration.
Two other big factors that could lead to the Tories retaining power is Angela Merkel’s landslide victory in Germany and the support of Rupert Murdoch and his arsenal of press outlets.
Few incumbent parties have been re-elected in Europe since the credit crunch hit almost exactly five years ago, yet Merkel not only managed to hold on to office but increased her share of the vote.
News Corporation won the election for Tony Blair in ’97 and remains hugely influential on the side of the Cameron today, whose “head is crammed into Rupert Murdoch’s colon “, in the words of Steven Fry.
Cameron met key executives of Murdoch’s News Corporation 26 times to July 2011, and as long as he keeps playing the dirty media game, he has a shot at re-election.
This year’s party conference season has resurfaced class wars of old, albeit in a more subliminal way than we once knew. After Thatcher and Blair pulled mainstream politics into the centre, 2015 could see the old left vs right emerge, as leaders rattle the old feudal drum.
Considerations in the run up to the election won’t be based on the strength of political manifestos, but how well political parties play politics. If Nick Clegg can manage not to piss too many people off he may be able to secure another taste of the top for his bourgeoisie party and if Cameron can bring the disaffected back into the fold without alienating existing supporters he could maintain status quo.
For Ed Miliband, it’s whether he can cause enough of a stir to upset the ranks and generate a working class revolt. His intentions of equality are admirable indeed, but unless he gets an electoral turnout, he may be a victim of his own good intentions.