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November 07, 2006

Watlington asks, is a new Conservative Coalition emerging in the UK?

Posted by Watlington

Bit by bit, the Conservative infrastructure continues to be built. Not only have Conservatives taken over the internet (witness Conservative Home, Iain Dale, Tory Radio and 18 Doughty Street), but alliances are being formed with organisations campaigning for Conservative type causes.

Under the new Conservative coalition, organisations like Vote OK (part of the Countryside Alliance) are working with key Conservative target seats to deliver leaflets and canvas. The Conservative Christian Fellowship also is carrying out a major campaign to get its members to turn up to the new Primary elections which are being held in some constituency associations to select Parliamentary candidates. Conservative Home is thought to have thousands of email addresses providing a potent weapon during both national elections and selection of the party leadership and candidates. The Taxpayers' Alliance also has tens of thousands of individuals on its database and at a stroke can help persuade key voters to support the Conservatives. The corollary to all this is that no one knows what will happen when the Tories get into Government and how the new Conservative infrastructure will work- or how influential it will be.

Nevertheless, after years of decline, there now is a huge new Conservative infrastructure - a loose alliance of organisations, focused on a number of Conservative issues, being built across the UK.

This is a marked contrast to what happened even when the Conservatives were in opposition pre-1979. At that time the main Conservative infrastructure were the right wing think tanks like the Institute of Economic Affairs and Centre for Policy Studies. These organisations formulated policy but were not politically active. By contrast - central to the new Conservative infrastructure is a campaigning base. The new Conservative coalition chooses issues and organises campaigns to get them into the public policy arena.

After years in Government, the moderate left infrastructure is in disarray with very little new campaigning or even intellectual infrastructure to build on.

Inevitably, this vacuum is being filled by extremist organisations like Respect and Stop the War etc. which are expert at invigorating the far left coalition.

If the right have finally got their act together - partly influenced by American politics - and build a Conservative infrastructure that is fit to last, then Conservatives may begin to be a real political force once again.

To read more by Watlington, see Watlington.

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So, is Cameron pledging to cut taxes? Or does he want carbon emissions priced at 100 Euros a ton? Does he strike you as a family-values Christian with conservative views on social issues? Or a silver-spoon sucker with a wild youth behind him and bohemian values.

Come back John Major, all is forgiven.

Posted by: Peter Nolan at November 7, 2006 07:09 PM

I'm sure the author will get a mention in the various blogs he has mentioned in his article, which is no doubt his prime intention. But yet again he seems to have over-blown the role of the so-called 'Conservative Coalition'. Perhaps it's part of a strategy by some Conservative supporters such as Iain Dale if they keep mentioning there self importance people will actually start to believe it. Are Iain Dale blog, Conservative Home, Tory Radio and 18 Doughty Street really that influential? I would argue the vast majority of these sites are read by traditional Tory members or supporters or political junkies. Are they attracting new supporters? The Tax Payers' Alliance has been around for years - did it have much impact on the Tory campaign in 2005, despite the fact there was a unpopular war? Also where exactly is the 'right's intellectual infrastructure'? If you think Cameron's favourite policy think thank is intellectual stuff, then god help this country.

Posted by: Manjit at November 9, 2006 05:41 PM
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