The Tories must be magnanimous in victory

EDITOR'S BLOG: The Conservative win will surprise them as much as anyone else. Handling it well will call for more judgment and less data-crunching.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 04 Jun 2015

Well, hands up who saw that one coming. I’ve always worried about market research and its bastard 21st century offspring Big Data. It would have us believe it foresees the future like The Oracle at Delphi and its powerful ‘insight’ has the answer to everything. That is such BS. The look on Peter Kelner of YouGov’s face was almost as memorable as when Michael Portillo got the chop. It’s not the numbers, dummy. It’s the nouse. The judgement. Tesco had Dunnhumby’s clever clever numbers. Look where that got them.

I’ve had 1.5 hours sleep and made the bad decision to have two fingers of J&B - in memory of The Union - at 4 Am so here are a few disorganized thoughts.

1) Dealing properly and maturely with victory can be harder than coping with defeat. The first thing the Tories will need to address is how to deal carefully with this unexpected triumph. They do not have a great reputation for magnanimity in victory. Osborne and his weird smile looked like a male version of Cruella de Ville about to start skinning Dalmatian puppies this morning. He is going to have watch it now. What is positive and One Nation about his party’s plan apart from fiscal and economic rectitude?  Where is the vision thing? He is loathed now even more by a larger proportion of the population than he has been for the last five years.   

David Cameron knows very well that a second term is likely to be even tougher than the first. That’s why - being a laid back kinda guy - he has already announced he has no stomach for  a full five years of it. The cuts coming down the line - whether vital or not - are going to be quite hideous. Our recovery has been delicate and there are grave doubts about whether it's of the correct sort.

2) Politics is, as I’m sure Alan Partridge once said, a cruel mistress. What the Liberal Democrats have done to deserve that comprehensive a rejection goodness only knows. Take Danny Alexander, for example. Five years of being a decent, tempering force in the government. Having the guts to go on Newsnight to defend hard decisions when his boss at the Treasury didn’t have the stomach for it. Cable was a sulky miseryguts and did very little at BIS but he stuck it out. I’ve never been sure what Lib Dems stand for. They hardly have an idea themselves. But it was somehow reassuring to have them around. Now they look like history.  

3) Foxtons shares may have sky-rocketed this morning but this isn’t all great news for business. The next two years are now going to be dominated by a vicious battle about our EU membership. Bar a few fruit loops and late middle aged white losers from Clacton most business people one encounters treat the possibility of Brexit with little short of horror. Anyone who kids themselves the Germans are going to see us right will soon note that Frau Merkel has bigger fish to fry. We’re a semi-detached nuisance but a relatively minor one at the moment.

4) The ‘roaring Scottish lion.’  Enough already. It’s going to be insufferable. What is going to be enough to appease  this unwholesome nationalist rant? What do they mean by saying No last September and Yes now? You can’t have it both ways. I’m not convinced we’ll be that great at a federal system. We’re absolute beginners when it comes to properly devolved power . Look at the ghastly pork barrel politics it creates in the States.   

5) There are good bits. The rabble of UKIP have been routed. Where on earth they go now is anybody’s guess. Back to moaning bitterly about sponging Poles and Romanians over their pints.

Remember Thatcher’s Francis of Assisi stuff about bringing us all, together? ‘Where there is division….’ etc She didn’t mean it. Cameron probably does mean it when he talks of ‘rediscovering one nation Conservatism’, but sadly he entirely lacks Thatcher’s courage to stand by his convictions and seems only too willing to be pushed around by those with much narrower agendas.

So this result feels like one of pure division. Tory countryside vs Labour cities - many of them outside London in a parlous state.  Scotland vs England. UK vs EU. All a bit nastily binary. Like how those geniuses of Big Data the pollsters see the world.

Our new government has a monumental task on its hands and must be careful that crowing over victory today doesn’t jeopardise its chances of success in the longer term.

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