What else could go wrong for the Tories?

7 October 2012

Beyond being implicated in the Jimmy Savile scandal it’s hard to imagine how last week could have been worse for the Tories. The build up to their conference in Birmingham has been marked by about as catastrophic an example of incompetence as it is possible to imagine at the Department for Transport. The cancellation of the West Coast rail franchise competition is plain embarrassing and has led to the usual response of this government: blame someone else. Three civil servants have been suspended while Justine Greening, who was Secretary of State at the time of the fiasco, remains in the Cabinet. You had to feel for her successor, Patrick McLoughlin, who was left to apologise on the Today programme for failings in the department he inherited.

Mark Hoban, who succeeded Chris Grayling as employment minister, took a less conciliatory approach when the National Council for Voluntary Organisations revealed that the much-vaunted Work Programme was driving charities to the wall. But he at least followed the consistent Coalition “blame-someone-else” line by holding charities responsible. I don’t know whether McLoughlin and Hoban will turn out to be any good. It’s early days to pass judgement and they were both put
in the tricky position of defending the record of projects for which they had no responsibility.

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But it does strike me that this is a government with very little strength in depth. Tony Blair reshuffled too often and in some positions (prisons minister, for example) there was no consistency whatsoever. However, he at least had the luxury of being able to bring on new talent, much of which now sits on the shadow front bench. Beyond the top jobs, it is difficult to identify any real stars in this administration at all. In his search to break the reshuffle mania of the New Labour years, Cameron has remained loyal to ministers for too long, he has created resentment in the ranks. Too many good younger backbenchers have turned dissident in the process.

As delegates gather in Birmingham it will be interesting to see how many of the younger generation have chosen to stay away.

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Show comments
  • truthsayer

    What could be worse?
    A picture of David Cameron palling up with convicted paedophile and sadist, the Liberal Democrat candidate and Common Purpose local leader, Matthew Byrne !

  • sir_graphus

    What else could go wrong: their Scottish leader could alienate the entire nation, or 88% of it.

  • philip sayers

    they could promote a expenses cheat to the cabinet. oops!

  • David Barnett

    Things aren’t that bad.

  • Roy

    David Cameron got it wrong from the start. It is hard to generate any sympathy for him. Some of us imagined a new era, a new Britain with a new conservative administration. No such luck. It certainly will not be forthcoming with a Labour government, more likely a new dark age. It seems only the small inconsequential political parties have the ideas that could bring the country into life. Unless the Tories can get a grip and sack their leader and put in place someone like Daniel Hannan they are destined for a period not to their liking. If DH can write a book warning America of the road to serfdom, he certainly can see the same road back home, and knows it’s on the cards if we don’t pull our finger out.

  • Colonel Mustard

    What else could go wrong for the Tories? Well, since you are already writing for the Spectator probably not much.

  • Ron Todd

    The worst thing that could go wrong for them is that they fail to get id of Cameron and replace him with a Tory.

  • Bluesman

    “the usual response of this government: blame someone else.”

    Where the last lot were paragons of selflessness in this regard -ha, ha, chuffing ha.

    “Tony Blair reshuffled too often”

    Except where it actually mattered.

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