Most of those registered to vote do not want a Conservative Government, yet they keep getting elected! How does this happen? Democracy campaigner and author of The Tory Winning Machine, Adam Herriott, explores more reasons why this may be the case.
Part two of a two-part blog Part one
The Tory Party may be tearing itself apart at the moment, but history shows that they always make a comeback. To stop them from dominating in the future, we need to understand why they have been so successful in the past. It is possible to end this destructive cycle and chart a new path for the country, one which serves the interests of ordinary people instead of the rich. To collectively beat the Tories and limit the damage they can do in the future, we need to understand them.
Building on my first blog, I have identified three more reasons for the Tories’ election success:
- Protecting the interests of the wealthy attracts wealthy donors: the Tory Party is the political organisation of the rich and operates to protect their interests. It’s well-funded by corporations and wealthy individuals, so it can outspend its opponents, helping the party to win more elections. The picture is now changing as Tory donors fall away and businesses turn to Labour because it looks more likely to win the next election.
- Positioning as the natural party of government: the Tory Party’s electoral dominance results in a self-reinforcing perception that it is seen as the ‘natural’ party of government. During the 20th century, the Tories developed a broad appeal to voters through their ‘one nation’ tradition and came to be viewed as a party with mass appeal, with membership peaking at 2.8 million in the 1950s. The Tories have claimed for themselves the appearance of ‘common sense’ – arguing ‘that their policies are practical, reasonable and measured because they are aligned with public opinion. Many voters see the party as standing for stability and continuity, the defender of tradition and Britain’s ‘proud’ history. The Tories have also effectively identified themselves with the British nation. This ‘patriotism and support for national greatness through rose-tinted nostalgia for the British Empire, and institutions such as the Commonwealth, the monarchy, the military and winning wars is very popular with ‘swing’ voters and voters on the right and centre ground.
- Right-wing media bias: there is a direct relationship between the Tories’ success at winning elections and staying in power and the right-wing media bias in their favour. There are significantly more Tory-supporting newspapers, so over the long term, the Tory-supporting papers are read by many more voters than Labour-supporting papers. The Tory press sets the public agenda, both during election periods and between elections. These papers also influence the broadcasting and online news reporting by the BBC. During election campaigns the Tory-supporting media become a unified, coordinated, sophisticated, ruthless machine, funded by a small number of billionaires with multiple press and broadcasting outlets to appeal to a broad range of people.
To stop the Tories long term, we need constitutional reform. The political system helps the Tories win more elections. Electoral reform is the key to bringing in the changes we need to make more reforms possible and weaken the Tories. We need proportional representation Introducing PR would improve our politics, with more progressive governments and fewer Tory governments.
The other political reforms we need are extending voting to 16 year olds, House of Lords reform and new laws to hold governments to account and we need all these reforms included in a written, codified constitution.
Adam Herriott is a democracy campaigner and the author of The Tory Winning Machine: Why the Conservative Party keeps winning elections and what we can do to stop them.