As we continue to face the fallout of the 2017 General Election, the inquest proceeds in the Conservative Party. After a disastrous campaign, heads rolled in CCHQ after the Conservatives failed to deliver a winning message to the country. Yet, the lessons that may be learned from the election are far more obvious than some Conservatives can see.
The Conservatives failed in their efforts due to two fundamental misunderstandings; the continued importance of economic well-being in the eyes of the electorate and their place in the electorates’ hearts and minds.
To begin, the Conservatives failed to comprehend that they will always be seen as the party that is needed, but never the party that is loved. Consider the following:
A child will always choose the ‘fun’ parent over the ‘strict’ parent, because the treats are more common and the pains of reality are soothed by gifts and enjoyment. In comparison, the stricter parent will be second choice, with the gifts and treats less, medicine often harsh, but ultimately the better choice to raise the child. Lessons of responsibility and competence are necessity for one to grow as an individual.
The Conservatives failed to realise that they will never be loved. They believed that the new-found popularity of Theresa May would lead them into a new era with the political scales rebalanced, where the public had truly become drawn to them and their ideas.
The case for Conservatism must be made again to each generation in their time and in their turn; the ideas of fiscal responsibility, a minimised reliance on the state and freedom of the individual. Equally, returning to the parenting analogy, it is not to say that one cannot be fun and also a good parent, obviously they can, but a degree of both fun and authority is needed for the best combination.
The Conservatives, if they are to survive this fresh wave socialist populism, must demonstrate why their way, however at times harsh and uneasy on the eye, is the right way. For the sacrifices we make now, create a better tomorrow.
Secondly, the Conservatives failed because they failed to demonstrate why they are needed on the economy. As we have already established, it is for each Conservative Party leader, at each election, to pledge and fight the case for conservatism.
In a stunning break from the tactic of the 2015 General Election, where ‘long term economic plan’ may have been tattooed across the forehead of every Tory MP to save repetition, Theresa May and her team barely mentioned the economy.
Even now, as unemployment reaches levels at their lowest since 1975, the Conservatives seem timid to preach of the remarkable economic success they have delivered since 2010.
The Tories clearly forgot that the economy is their trump card over Labour and a winning card at that. Since 1979, every election has been won in a majority or first-place finish by the party that was trusted the most by the electorate on the economy. It is the key to electoral success.
Whilst the Conservatives embark on a mission to reinvent themselves in the post-Brexit era, they must not ignore their best attributes. By giving in to the populist gimmicks of Jeremy Corbyn, they demonstrate to the electorate that they are no better.
That is not to say that the Conservatives can ignore the message sent to them by the electorate in 2015. Relaxations on some policies must be made, but one cannot help but wonder if the Conservatives had sufficiently made the case for their necessity and fiscal conservatism, if these messages would have been the same.