How the wheels are coming off the Tory bandwagon

On a number of key policies, no one in the government seems quite sure what's going on


We can now confidently conclude that the Conservative manifesto was written in the expectation that David Cameron would have it watered down by a coalition, or some other loose arrangement with the Liberal Democrats.

Because now the Tories are governing alone, it is startling just how quickly the wheels are coming off on a number of flagship policies.

Here are some of the difficulties they’ve run into so far:

Human Rights Act

“The next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.”

That was the confident assertion made on page 60 of the party’s manifesto. In the Queen’s Speech last week it was watered down so that ministers now plan merely to ‘bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights’.

On the left of the party, the former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve has argued that scrapping the Human Rights Act would have ‘very considerable’ consequences for Britain’s place in the world. On the right, the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell has declared that he is ‘extremely sceptical about the government proposals’, stating conclusively that he is ‘concerned about withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights.’

Things are made even messier by the possibility that pulling the Human Rights Act would unravel the devolution settlement; the latest from Michael Gove is a suggestion that somehow the devolved nations could retain the Human Rights Act even if it was scrapped in England.

David Cameron is now reported to be at loggerheads with both Gove and Theresa May over withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

European Union

The prime minister, his team confidently predicts, will secure some great victory over the EU, achieving reform that will make the UK’s place in it far more palatable to voters.

The only problem is that that no one has a clue what success will look like. Number 10 seems reluctant to let either parliament or voters hold David Cameron accountable for his ambitions, which will either not go far enough for the right of his party; or go too far for EU leaders.

And then came the reality check. Although on the pro-EU wing of the party, big beast Ken Clarke yesterday told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show that the prime minister is not seeking to repatriate any powers from Brussels back to the UK. Rather, Clarke argued, he’s looking simply for economic reforms – whatever they might be.

Welfare Reform

Throughout the election campaign Conservative spokespeople repeatedly refused to explain to the country how it would make the £12 billion of further savings it was proposing to the welfare budget, urging the country simply to trust Iain Duncan Smith.

Now however, it seems the Work and Pensions secretary was surprised when the figure emerged in January. According to one of his allies, ministers ‘did not expect to have to implement such heavy hits on welfare spending, assuming the pledge could be watered down during coalition negotiations with the Liberal Democrats’.

Right to Buy

No sooner had the Queen delivered her speech than Boris Johnson argued that it would be the ‘height of insanity’ to use the proceeds from Right To Buy to build more homes outside London when the capital has a housing crisis.wheeze coming

And for good measure, the former permanent secretary to the Department for Communities and Local Government Bob Kerslake will tomorrow use his maiden speech in the House of Lords to attack the policy.

“I will raise my serious concerns about the policy in its current form”, he told the Observer yesterday.

“I think it’s wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won’t help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country, particularly in London.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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23 Responses to “How the wheels are coming off the Tory bandwagon”

  1. Rowdie111

    ” How the wheels are coming off the Tory bandwagon ” ! ????
    First YouGov poll after the GE…Con 41. Lab 30. LibDem 7. UKIP 13. GRB 4.
    Something doesn’t seem to add up does it?….Is Ed Jacobs ‘out of touch’ ?

  2. Dave Murphy

    Might help if you read past the headline …

  3. Selohesra

    Can’t rely on polls – GE 2015 confirmed that – they always understate Tory support 🙂

  4. Chris Kitcher

    Seems like an omnishambles all over again. Hooray show the lying, cheating Tories posh boys for what they really are.

  5. madasafish

    Meanwhile Labour has potential Labour leaders saying Ed was crap, his policies were crap ,,,, three weeks after Ed was great and his policies were designed to save the world…

    Funny you don’t mention that…

    This site is just risible..

  6. Rowdie111

    read through them all….they still don’t reflect what is happening in the polls.

  7. Torybushhug

    Surely not this beacon of evidence!

  8. AlanGiles

    I certainly don’t agree with harsh welfare cuts – not do I believe the vile Duncan-Smith was surprised or disappointed. I suspect that the right to buy housing association stock will be challenged in the courts, but as for the wheels coming off – Labour have launched two enquiries into why they lost – one by the great thinker Jon Cruddas the other by ageing ex minister Margaret Beckett – they will no doubt spend a lot of money bumping into each other. Instead of looking back Labour needs to find a set of wheels.

  9. Dark_Heart_of_Toryland

    Why, then, do you spend so much of your time commenting on it?

  10. Dark_Heart_of_Toryland

    These would be the same polls that so accurately predicted the result of the election?

  11. gedw23

    David Cameron has a choice over this parliament- to alienate his party or the rest of the country. My guess is that in the hubris generated by the election win he bought he’ll manage to do both.

  12. gedw23

    It doesn’t follow that just because Labour are running around like headless chickens that these looming icebergs should be ignored.

  13. Harold

    I was always told be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. I agree the policies may well have been put forward with the thought that they look good to the core vote and the press will support, but little detail, now they have to fill in the detail. I also think it will be difficult to satisfy everyone and this time no one to blame! Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  14. Denise Lewis

    Oh for goodness sake, get a grip…the two parties in the coalition, before the run up to the election, shaking hands and best of mates, were slagging each other off pre election…as if they wouldn’t touch each other with a bargepole…yet no doubt would have been kissing arses if they had to form another coalition. This is politics, when was there ever integrity and honesty.

  15. Denise Lewis

    Oh for goodness sake, get a grip…the two parties in the coalition, before the run up to the election, shaking hands and best of mates, were slagging each other off pre election…as if they wouldn’t touch each other with a bargepole…yet no doubt would have been kissing arses if they had to form another coalition. This is politics, when was there ever integrity and honesty.

  16. NekoRock

    They don’t understate Tory support – they understate the desperation of some of the countries voters.

    I didn’t want a Tory Government because I simply cannot trust them, nor did I want a Labour Government led by weakest-willed Party Leader in recent history.
    most of the other Parties didn’t suit the needs of the people, and the ones that did, just cannot get enough seats.

    So people were forced to make a choice, a weak-willed Labour Leader too close to the centre… or a Strong-willed Tory Leader trying to reduce the population of the countries.poorest and most vulnerable by any means necessary.
    (Yes I trust Left-Wing Parties more than Right)

    They chose murder over door-mat…

    Can’t say I blame them, but it shows the state of the countries voting system when 1/3 of the people somehow are considered the ‘Majority’… leaving the other 2/3 to wonder why.

    I am interested to see how the Tories deal with these pledges that they made when they couldn’t manage to stick to the previous ones.

    I just hope that I’m not screwed over once again by the system that is supposed to protect me from poverty whilst I am recovering from serious health issues.

  17. ihateuk40

    I think you mean a set of balls

  18. ihateuk40

    We are obviously missing the elephant In the room with our current state of politics. It Is our electoral system that give one UKIP MP for 4 million votes, and 56 scottish MP’s for 1.8million votes.

    We live In a truly undemocratic democracy. This has been the most ludicrous outcome In Brtish political history.

  19. DanFilson

    Right now the wagon is rumbling along safely. The first time a Tory MP has the misfortune and indecency to die and for the Conservatives to lose the subsequent by-election, the vultures will assemble fairly quickly on the 10 Downing Street lawn; even more so after the second by-election loss. At each Cabinet meeting Cameron will spot them out of the corner of his eye, and then wonder how many are now in the room. It only takes 6 rebels to vote against the government to – in theory – deprive it of a majority, and 12 to abstain. History tells us that Chamberlain had not lost his Parliamentary majority when 80 or so government MPs abstained on the Norway debate. He was out within days. Cameron will win the Stay In referendum Yes vote with ease, but with Labour support. There are many issues when such support won’t be there. All political lives end in failure, as he will discover.

  20. Richard Honey

    Doors that mean we’re doomed to have another male leader? 🙂 Or two even?

  21. Evelyn Ashford

    And it gets worse…..£12bn cuts not even taking effect on the most vulnerable in society and they want to throw away another £13bn!!

  22. casual agent

    Sickening to think that proud British People would stand for this Tin Pot Tory Regime as if it were the norm in a so called civilised society. .How our forefathers have been let down,, Laying down their precious lives against foreign tyranny, Just to have it Home Grown here in “Great Britain”..I feel ashamed to be British! !!

  23. Patrick Nelson

    Yes it is truly bizarre when you think about it like that.

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