New polling has lifted the curtain on the Conservative party's membership. What does it mean for Britain?
A new YouGov poll has shone a light on the people who are set to determine the whose fate our country.
To describe it as dramatic would be a gross understatement. As the Independent reported:
“46 per cent of [Tory members] would be happy to see Nigel Farage at the helm of the Conservatives. Sixty-three per cent of members said they would be prepared to accept Scottish independence to get Brexit, while 59 per cent said the same about a united Ireland.
“’Significant damage’ to the UK economy was also no deterrent, with 61 per cent in favour and 29 per cent opposed. Some 54 per cent said the Tory party’s complete destruction would still be a price worth paying for Brexit.”
Think about this. Next month, these 160,000 members will decide who will lead our country. Since all candidates have ruled out a General Election, they will determine the fate of our country for some time to come – including the nature of if/how we leave the EU.
These members (in name only) of the Conservative and Unionist party would see the union destroyed to force through Brexit (Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson’s request for members to ‘take a long hard look at themselves will do little to shift opinion). They would see their party and our economy destroyed to force through Brexit. This isn’t a Tory party leadership election. It’s a kamikaze mission.
It is not a Conservative Party election, because the ‘members’ do not support their own party. Surveys on the European elections offer crucial insights. ConservativeHome‘s pre-election survey found that 61.7 per cent would vote for Farage’s Brexit Party, with another finding 60.5 per cent would do so.
YouGov’s post-election polling of Conservative Party members backed this up, finding that 59 per cent of Conservative members had voted for the Brexit Party.
Let’s be consistent here. Imagine an alternate universe where Tony Blair is once again PM. While leader, his party is usurped by Socialist Workers’ Party supporters. Now, 60% of ostensible Labour members voted for the SWP, and 54% of them would see Labour destroyed in order to secure nationalisation of the FTSE 100.
Blair then steps down and these members-in-name-only elect John McDonnell – without a General Election. He begins to implement his plans, against public opinion.
It would, quite simply, not be allowed to happen. Because it would be undemocratic and constitutionally dangerous.
But here we are. In the current leadership race, the asylum has been taken over, as the staff stand by and watch the ensuing destruction. Indeed, they are cheering them on, as MPs select a man who has refused to rule out shutting down Parliament to push through No Deal.
Then there is the separate but equally worrying point that the people picking our Prime Minister are – like the candidates – grossly unrepresentative of the UK.
According to analysis by the academic Tim Bale, 70% are male, while the majority actively want No Deal with the EU – compared to just 40% of the public. And it’s no surprise their policies fail to reflect public opinion: more than twice as many Tory members earn six figures salaries than those in the other parties.
When a majority of totally unaccountable, unrepresentative party members do not vote for a party, and a majority would rather destroy the party than lose Brexit…should they really pick the leader of that party and our Prime Minister?
Somehow all of this is dismissed as normal or a ‘quirk’ of Tory party dynamics – rather than the constitutional catastrophe it represents. Welcome to the wild world of British politics in 2019.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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