Back to blog

The Tory conference reflects the dismal state of the party

See blog

Readers' comments

Reader comments are listed below. Comments are currently closed and new comments are no longer being accepted.



Britain needs a new party. Centre right or centre left will do me fine. Apart from their tenuous grips on reality and terrifying incompetence, the current lot all have too much baggage.


"It is a fact worth contemplating, particularly in discussions of online vitriol, that the only people who object to the very existence of their opponents and are willing to express that objection in the form of sometimes violent protests are on the left. " - considering the violent political murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year, by someone decidedly on the right ("Britain first!"), this is a particularly clunky assertion.


"It is a fact worth contemplating, particularly in discussions of online vitriol, that the only people who object to the very existence of their opponents, and are willing to express that objection in the form of sometimes violent protests, are on the left." - Islamic fundamentalists/extremists spring to mind as a pretty violent group that find rather corse ways to illustrate their intolerance of their opponents.

Lugh in reply to Eraserhead

@ Eraserhead "the biggest problem we have is that the elite is out of touch, not really the electorate"
I think it's both. Elite out of touch, and electorate uninformed, as Trek says. The worse of those imo is the uninformed electorate, who are thereby left open to populism, lies, charisma, and demagoguery. "sadly and incredibly, this is what we do".


It's probably time for an "En March!" moment in British politics - the Tories are a spent force because they have unnecessarily divided the nation over BREXIT, the Lib-Dems destroyed their credibility when in power with the Tories and Labour appears to be run by the same sort of left-wing ideologues that infested Northern cities in the 1970s.

RossAbraham in reply to Eraserhead

Not exactly broad brush painting. Just balancing the hyperbole of the article. Corbyn adequately articulates the sentiments of those who support him. Ethically uneven and quietly embarrassed of their class and status. Violence springs from guilt, and those Corbyn supporters who express ill will are guilty of being fake liberals.

guest-aaejljow in reply to Solaman

Unfortunately it is true that most of the hard violence we see at political events is from the left. They are usually the ones who think they can justify their actions because many, especially the younger ones, tend to believe that anyone who is right of center is a Nazi. We saw none of this violence at the Labour conference yet the coverage of the Conservative one seems to be 40% protesters. It is very hard to imagine an 80 year old woman spitting and pepper spaying a Labour member but I have routinely seen members of the left attack many people who simply wear Donald Trump hats or even people who just are interested in conservative values and visit conferences and speeches to hear what has to be said, only to have a wave of abuse thrown at them such as "Nazi F***" and more often than not a pepper spray or bottle hurled at them. Yes the muder of Joe Cox was awful and the tool who did it shouldn't even be regarded as British but this was every sense in the word an isolated incident done by a radicalist, not an average Conservative (or more likely National Action) voter.

Eraserhead in reply to Lugh

The reason lots of people voted for Trump is because they are absolutely fed up with the elite that doesn’t listen or understand their concerns.

There’s plenty of stuff that can be done to make lives of ordinary people easier that isn’t expensive, such as making benefits payable instantly when people work more and make changes to their benefits payments.


"It is a fact worth contemplating, particularly in discussions of online vitriol, that the only people who object to the very existence of their opponents, and are willing to express that objection in the form of sometimes violent protests, are on the left."

A derisively bitter example of a paradoxical self-contradiction.

"...little respect for the basic principles of a liberal society".

Is this meant to stand in for ‘polite’ society or perhaps a deferential one.

It reads as ‘little respect for the dogma of neo-liberal corporatism’, following which the author then laments "The conference has been essentially contracted out to corporations, lobbyists, PR people and career politicians."

"...bought-and-paid for Potemkin event...".

Which is not so far from what the 'they' outside are protesting.

That the conference merely reflects the condition of the state of the nation; a moribund mercenary Machina dedicated to enriching self and crowding out public interest and service.

Ironically this observation echoes the critique of the opposition, and, it's important to notice, that the author’s response is not to re-commit to liberal ‘principles’, but hark way back to a social program of public housing.

A non-contextualized reference to a contest bracketed by the return of the Labour Govt in 1950 and follow on 1951 Conservative victory in which the latter campaigned on retention of the welfare state reforms in recognition of their popularity.

Then, as now, it wasn't originality by the 'brightest' but simple recognition, imitation and neutralisation.

It seems not even the neo-liberals believe in its promise anymore, though this doesn't stop them castigating opponents for non-obeisance to the ‘principles’; as would an aging aristocracy, knowing it is no longer relevant still jealously cling to form and deference as the last vestiges of worth.


"And it needs to give the delegates some power so that they can hold the people on the stage accountable."

Quite correct! But is there anyone who has the authority and ability to do so? Theresa May is too wet and equivocating and doesn't command the respect of the electorate as Maggie Thatcher once did, to stamp her credentials on the process.

Eraserhead in reply to salmotruttafario

The problem is that Corbyn can actually win, because he is at least offering something different.

I’d love to see a radical centrist party. But it’s going to need to do more than cut investment taxes. Realistically those need to go up.


Hmm. Rather angry. And rather disaffected.
The interesting point in all of this is how common it now is in Western democracies. The 'system' offers no actual voice by an individual, let alone the public. And things remain frozen in some kind of ice-box fridge where nothing useful ever actually emerges.
The problem in a nutshell: democracy itself. Where all votes are created equal; no obligation or duty to be informed on the issues; yet a vote / opinion nonetheless. Even if convicted and in prison, that vote has the same weight. Incredible, is this not? And this is how we govern ourselves, pass legislation, and act for our here & now, and our future.
Incredible. Yes. Both sadly and incredibly, this is what we do.

Solaman in reply to guest-aaejljow

This is either an intentional, or derivative, misdirection via accusatory misrepresentation.
The ‘first-hand’ examples seem more anecdotal & apocryphal, and hard to tell from which side of the Atlantic they are drawn.
They appear a mix of US & UK memes confused in the mind of the re-teller and thus more representative of acquired memory. Use of “coverage” hints at such.
I would question how many people wear MAGA hats to British political events, that aren’t deliberately hoping to provoke a reaction that is.
Also, throwing a pepper spray bottle and not using it as it is designed to be, seems overegging it somewhat.

Ben Heald

What we really need is change in the way we do politics. We're simply getting bad outcomes from an outmoded system with two incumbent parties playing politics with the things that matter - the health service, education, the environment, etc; none of which are benefitting from carefully thought-through long term policies.

Every other aspect of life in the 21st century is changing and evolving - eg transport, communication, work & leisure. Why not the political system.

Wouldn't it lead to better outcomes for all of us.

I've set up a campaign vehicle to make the case for change at

53 South

Comment amended: one typo corrected; "defense" still there - has the Grauniad tradition taken up residence at The Economist?

chinachip in reply to xeWGAjqhJy

I agree. The old "banished" chickens and pigeons coming home to roost these days, seems...
Frightening & Dismal, huh?
How about our mate E.J. Freddy MaCron? Frequents Pilgrim Pub in Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1LY Saturday evenings. Likely lad, though kinda young…