As I wait to tuck into my Roast Turkey at my parents' in Essex, I have been having a flick through a number of other Blogs and have just read this little masterpiece from the Adam Smith Blog, written by the excellent Madsen Pirie. I hope he's right.
For UK Conservatives the most devastating finding of the last election was that even voters who liked their policies, subsequently rejected those policies once they knew them to be Conservative ones. The name carried such negative loading that it tarnished every policy it touched. That, as the PR men say, constitutes an image problem.New Tory leader David Cameron is not bothering to spell out details of policy yet. What would be the point if electors would promptly reject them? What he and his group are trying to do is to project a different look and feel to the party so they can shed that negative loading. The pruning of the present candidates list, and the insistence on more women and ethnic minority candidates is part of that. Overtures to the Liberal Democrats come under this heading, as does the symbolic gesture of urging us all to spend a 'green' Christmas.He has to project to the public at large that the Tories are not an alien crowd of unpleasant zealots, unrelated to the lives of ordinary people, but a more relaxed and easy-going bunch rather like themselves. They have to look moderate; not necessarily occupying the centre ground, but coming across as a decent, tolerant crowd, putting people and their needs ahead of ideology.The Tories will address the needs of those on welfare and on inner city estates, not because they seriously expect to win over their votes, but because that is what other electors want to see. Ordinary voters want to support a party that has a humane outlook and a concern at the plight of those who fall behind.Is this pure spin? In the limited sense that all image projection is spin, it is. But it is more. Part of it is aimed at his own party, at making them soften up and lighten up, and at making them be what they want to seem. Another part is aimed at the country, at having people associate their best values with those of the Conservatives, at seeing them embody a sense of fair play, respect for others, and the basic decency and civility which people show toward each other.