LibLink: Chris Rennard – David Cameron wants nothing less than Tory hegemony

On the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Chris Rennard warns that Libdems should beware becoming part of a grand plan to secure permanent Conservative domination:

Thirteen years of opposition were especially painful for those Tories who formed their political opinions in the years when Margaret Thatcher appeared to reign supreme. Opposition from 1997 was humiliating and served to increase the fiercely competitive instincts of the Cameron circle. Time in opposition helped them to plan to try and ensure that, if Labour let them win back power, they would never lose again – even with historically low levels of support for the party. Their strategy is based on attempting to ensure an overall Conservative majority in the future – even if they fail to win a single extra vote. But they need time to get these plans in place.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • My partner, who was a politics student, never tires of reminding me of an interview of Edward Heath following his time as PM. When asked what the ultimate purpose of the Tories was, he drew a sharp contrast between Labour and Lib Dems – who have clearly defined objectives that could in theory be achieved out of power – and his own party, who we all know would never put it in writing in a constitution but whose single aim he saw was “to rule. In perpetuity.”

    In that light, policy in education and health in particular looks remarkably like stripping out democratic control and passing it to the natural allies of the Tories. It is a great shame that this warning from so high up didn’t come in May 2010.

  • Keith Browning 27th Feb '12 - 1:59pm

    I think Kenneth Clarke made a similar remark on one of the late night discussion shows during the last election. ‘The purpose of the Tory party is to rule’. Perhaps the French did the correct thing for once and chopped a few heads off. Its about time we had our revolution, 1000 years overdue, or is that not very Liberal??

  • That’s interesting. Rennard seems to be suggesting that the Lib Dems should pull out of the coalition before 2015, doesn’t he?

  • From the full piece…

    “The effect of the current parliamentary boundary review process (which uniquely disallowed the old rule about minimising disruption to the previous constituencies) is thought likely on most estimates to give the Conservatives 50% of the seats for the same votes that gave them 47% in 2010.”

    “But the effect will be greater than these estimates because a very disruptive review is bound to disproportionately damage the prospects for Lib Dem MPs”

    Interesting article particularly in light of his refusal to address the genuine concerns regarding the boundary changes when they were pushed through Parliament.. At the time his position appeared to me to be that Labour were wrong to oppose the boundary changes and were doing so only to avoid the AV referendum. That may have been the case, but whatever the reason the changes were being opposed there was a chance to push for change.

    Was the referendum on AV really worth the cost???

  • @ Steve Way,

    The boundary changes were, of course, bundled up with the AV referendum and sold to the LDs as a package deal. Once we had bought the package, the Tories took care to disable the feature which sold it to us, while retaining the feature we didn’t want. A classic confidence technique. Methinks Chris Rennard has resolved not to get fooled again.

    Rennard is right to recognise more dangers ahead. The Conservative party was marginalised for many years by the electoral success of New Labour. When Cameron managed to come in slightly ahead of Labour after thirteen long years, thanks only to an exceptionally poor Labour leader who would clearly soon be dumped, he knew he had to seize his chance.

    That he has achieved, with skill and aplomb. In everything he has done, he has concentrated on deep-seated structural changes which are designed to be practically irreversible – in dismantling State services, entrenching private competition, and as Rennard points out, in emasculating and gerrymandering our electoral system. And our leadership has been crucial in helping him to do it.

  • derek jacobs 28th Feb '12 - 9:07am

    i dont disagree with reduction to 600 seats and stricter tolerance levels…during the blair/brown years-disregarding PR-lab had an advantage over the tories in seat allocations—2005 lab secured comfortable win on 36% of vote…
    tories in 2010 for same share did not….why? because over periods of time-as people move out from the cities–tory seats become much larger than the average until the next review…basically scotland-the north and especially wales are over represented-the south under represented(number of tory seats with over 80,000 electorate)….PR is not on the horizon any time soon-but let us make it unlikely to secure a victory with less than 40% of total vote—derek jacobs

  • Chris Rennard 2nd Mar '12 - 1:02pm

    A good piece on this general subject by Mark Gettleson here:

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