By Tim Montgomerie
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Today I introduce a new chapter in ConservativeHome's development. I'm launching a manifesto for a Conservative majority with an assessment of the Conservative Party's underlying electoral weakness. I argue that the Tory opinion polling position is flattered by the weakness of our opponents and that the Conservative Party still has a long way to go to prove that it is the party of ordinary voters, rather than the rich. I summarise my arguments in today's Times (£). One of the weaknesses of Cameron's Tory party is that it has little support amongst the old right-wing newspapers. These newspapers, like many traditional Conservative voters, sense that there is something not quite right about the Cameron project. It's not committed enough to growth. It's flaky on crime. In its environmental policies it has followed fashion rather than common sense. Stephen Glover analyses this phenomenon today, noting how once papers like The Telegraph would have rallied to the support of an embattled Conservative minister but now they rush to stick the knife in. There are few areas where there is a bigger gap between Team Cameron and Tory voters, MPs and the right-wing press than Europe. That gap looks even bigger this morning.
The Mail, Sun, Telegraph and Express all report that George Osborne is again prepared to increase Britain's contribution to the IMF in order to save the €urozone. Osborne feels he has no choice. On Saturday evening he explained that there was real momentum towards a deal to save the €urozone from calamitous collapse and if a deal could be struck then that would be the best possible news for the UK economy.
So – although an end to bailouts was the policy Tory members would most like to see – we are about to get another one. And a very big one.
The Sun is angry:
"Britain is broke, unemployment soaring and families fearful of another harsh winter and the crippling bills they will face. Yet the Government stands ready to throw billions more at the IMF to bail out the Eurozone's squanderers. Yes, the Eurozone we were wise enough to steer clear of, but which we subsidise anyway. For years The Sun and others warned of the insanity of the single currency, as the Europhiles sneered. They're silent now. Yet still it falls to us all to bail out their grand folly to the tune of £20billion and rising. The only comfort is it could be worse. We could be the ones holding the begging bowl."
And the FT (£) quotes three unhappy Tory MPs:
- Peter Bone: “[The bail-out package] should be done entirely by the eurozone countries. This is nothing to do with us and we should let them get on with it.”
- Bernard Jenkin: “This is throwing good money after bad. There is no bail-out that can address the fundamental flaws of the euro.”
- Mark Field: “It is pretty inconceivable that we won’t be making some form of contribution. Osborne and [David] Cameron probably think they are strong enough to get this through, but it does run counter to the promises they have made.”
If the €uro is to be saved I can't see an alternative to some kind of bailout but, of course, the best policy for Europe's long-term is a break up of what remains a fatally flawed single currency zone. Sadly – albeit understandably – neither Osborne nor Cameron will countenance that.