Daily Archives: May 20, 2010

The ‘voice’ of the Tory grassroots

The last few days have seen the rise of something that I find a little distasteful; and that’s grandstanding by a few high profile conservative bloggers who don’t feel the coalition is right – Iain Dale commented only a few days ago that the requests for media appearances rather dried up after he came out in favour of a coalition – for other commentators however there just seem to be a never ending stream of invites, especially from the BBC and the Guardian, neither of which could be considered bastions of conservatism in any form in recent years.

I of course don’t have a problem with people having opinions – I’m full of them, and I’d fight to the death to defend people’s rights to have their own. No, my problem is the way opinions are being construed as fact, and facts that represent us all. Commentators like Tim Montgomerie for instance who keeps being introduced as the ‘voice’ of Tory Grassroots. Now, let me put this in perspective – I like Tim, I respect many of his views, even if some baffle me, but surely he must see that he’s being played? Not once have I heard a rebuttel that he’s not the defacto voice because of his editorship of ConHome, not once… it should be his opening gambit, he provides a platform for debate and has opinions that are his own, period.

It’s almost as if someone needs to explain to him and others – the media don’t like you, they appreciate that you’re eloquent yes, but moreso they appreciate that you’re willing to say what they want to say, when they want to say it. Coming from a background in broadcast journalism, you really don’t ever invite guests simply because they make noise, you want them to make noise that will draw the conclusions for the article you’re working on. And let’s be honest, the Conservatives have got enough problems with swivel-eyed backward looking politician like Tebbit still rattling his sabre as if he’s just stepped out of the cabinet office, without further commentary from you or others on BBC News seemingly supporting his position: believe me, he’s more than capable of making his views heard in a damaging enough way as it is.

If you believe some broadcast news from the past couple of weeks, you’d be led to believe that ConHome is representative – and it’s simply not. Nothing could be further from the truth – ConHome is representative of the people that write on it: it’s not the voice of conservatism I recognise a lot of the time. Many of the article comments regularly descend into personal abuse, games of I’m more conservative than you are, and it’s a home for Little-Englanders, UKIPers in denial and those that simply wish that Thatcher’s reign had never ended: and that’s all fine with me – it’s good that there’s a valve for discussion for those on that side of the Conservative party, but it’s not representative of the party, or many of the people in the party, or many people (like me) who aren’t members of the party but are at heart Liberally Conservative.

It’s certainly not representative of many centre right,  liberal, conservative, pro-european, pro-choice, pro-change people, and again, that’s fine – it doesn’t have to be, but let’s not let the media turn ConHome, and other blogs like it, into defacto ‘wholly-representative voices’… this game has been played before, it brought the Major government to it’s knees with Europe as the killer issue, and then after Blair’s landslide it kept the party and the whole idea of conservatism (of any sort) entirely toxic.

Conservatives strive to be personal, unique and self-determining, so debate is great – we need debate: but please, let these conversations be driven by us: not by the media – and not by a gross misrepresentation of a few online discussion places as the definitive voice that defines what everyone in the centre right must think and feel.