When one talks of the party listening one is referring largely to those at the top, the local party chairmen are, in the main, listening, but seemingly those at the top are not listening to them. Part of the problem is that the top Tories have been listening to the wrong people, mainly so-called "Business leaders" along with minority groups which make a noise which is disproportionate to their size.
The business leaders invariably come from big business and favour immigration as not only does it give them cheap labour and save them the problem of staff training, but also, in the case of the construction industry, provides them with an increasing population which requires additional homes, schools, hospitals, etc. And one must not forget that the pressure for HS2 also comes from the same source.
Then there are the "one issue" pressure groups, of which two come immediately to mind, each of which, in reality, probably doesn't have more than maybe a thousand or so active supporters. These are firstly "Hacked Off", a group comprising mainly celebrities who want to prevent the media reporting other than favourable news about their activities. They don't in any way represent the public at large, who may favour some restraint on the press, but certainly don't want the North Korean type of press censorship which these celebraties would seem to favour. The other pressure group is Stonewall which has been pressing for "Gay Marriage". There was no public pressure for this, even from Gays, many of whom haven't even taken up the option of a Civil Partnership.
But whilst the top Tories are listening, and pandering to, these organisations and focus groups, they are not listening to the vast majority of the public who have no vocal organisations to make their views known. The following issues seem to be of concern to this majority, regardless of their party affiliations.
- The economic situation, usually doing too little too late with the word "cuts" meaning a smaller increase than anticipated.
- Immigration, both from within and outside the EU. Associated with this is the emigration of some of our best graduates who are seeking a better life elsewhere.
- The EU. Trade is one thing, but government from Brussels is another
- The Human Rights laws, where our citizens' human rights seem to be subservient to those of the criminal
- The NHS, which seems to be an "International Health Service" and which far from being the 24/7 service that one expects is largely an 8/5 service with ever longer waiting times for emergency treatment at a decreasing number of A&E units,
- Education, where our standards, particularly in the core subjects, are lower than most countries except those in the third world. Teachers Unions are now advocating shorter hours!
- Defence, where we are to spend billions on about twenty fighter aircraft, rather than ensuring we have sufficient manpower in our Services to combat the more likely scenarios.
- The benefits system which rewards idleness rather than work for the lower paid.
So as far as I am concerned, the Tories can listen to whoever Grant Shapps considers appropriate, but it is actions that speak louder than words.