The main problem with the current Conservative Party, and the reason why it is where it is in the polls, can be summed up in two words - "David Cameron".
As a retired engineer, there are a number of phrases that I could use about him (without resorting to foul language), but the one at this time which seems most appropriate is that he should "learn to put his brain into gear before opening his mouth".
Only this morning, we are told that he has dropped his proposal for a "per unit" tax on alcohol, apparently under pressure from some members of the Cabinet. One might ask why on earth did he put forward the proposal without first discussing it with his colleagues? It seems to me that he heard about the idea, decided "That's great" without even the slightest thought that there could be problems in implementation. In any case, a subject like this is surely for a junior minister to consider, not the Prime Minister personally. Next on the PM's agenda - Plastic bags!. We'd have never won the war if Churchill had worried about such trivia rather than fighting the war!
Another problem with Cameron is that in issues that matter to the electorate, all we get are promises but no action. "If" (a very big "if") he wins the next election, and "when" he has held negotiations with the EU, we are then promised a referendum on our membership. But he has said that he will campaign to stay in which hardly indicates much enthusiasm for real change.
He is loosing votes to UKIP because they make their position very, very clear; they want out of the EU. No "ifs" or "buts", they just want to get out. If by some miracle they were elected, no referendum would be needed as it is part of their manifesto, and they would simply be doing what they said that they would.
In my view, if Cameron wants to stop the erosion of votes to UKIP, he needs to do one thing, table the necessary legislation before Parliament for a referendum at the earliest possible date. We know the LibDems would oppose this (although in doing so they oppose democracy) but what would Labour do? Milliband has said that he opposes a referendum, and if he does, at least the public will know where Labour stands come the General Election.
Theresa May could also follow the same approach with the European Human Rights legislation. Put forward changes to our own laws to allow our Supreme Court to be the highest court of appeal. If Labour opposes this, the Tories would be in a far stronger position to blame Labour for all the difficulties in deporting illegal immigrants who manage to argue their right to family life under European law.
Meanwhile I am confident that UKIP's position in the polls will steadily rise followed by a big boost early next year as the Romanians and Bulgarians start to arrive here.
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