Dead Men Left

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ha ha ha Howard

So off goes Mr Howard to Oldham, land of great disquiet, there to seek out rivers of blood and Tory votes, only to find the Northern folk not in the least bit impressed by his Enoch-lite performance:

When asked if he was warning of a repeat of the civil unrest, Mr Howard said: "We have to be vigilant if we are to make sure we continue to have good community relations."

But he said: "I wouldn't put it in terms of a warning."

One member of the ITV1 programme's audience, who described himself as a disillusioned Conservative voter, attacked the party's rhetoric on immigration, saying it appealed to a "primeval fear" in the electorate.

"You talk about immigration, asylum seekers and terrorism. You mix those up, are you playing on the fear of people?" asked Roger Chandra. "I can't vote for a party that plays on those basic instincts."

Worse yet, his own crazy gang of merry pranksters are getting jittery:

A group of Conservative frontbenchers, including members of the shadow cabinet, have pleaded with Michael Howard to tone down his harsh rhetoric on asylum and immigration.

In the first signs of a Tory wobble - following a series of poor opinion polls - Mr Howard was warned over the weekend that he risked looking like the leader of a single-issue party.

On the plus side, the Tories' single-minded focus on race has squashed the possibility, for now, of a populist party of the right emerging from their quiet disintegration. Kilroy-Silk saw the possibility of such a formation, in the dog-days of the Tories' pre-election campaign, even when his party leadership - UKIP's merry Brussels freeloaders - did not. Veritas had some potential; I think it has now been squeezed.

On the downside, the Tories' gradual realisation that they must appeal to a vaguely lefty consensus on matters like public spending and social matters sits very uneasily with the immigration bigotry. It's not so much a dog whistle, as a big hollow drum: very appealing to those too far gone to know better, that 1/3 still voting Tory, but essentially empty and worthless for the rest of us.

Hence disquiet. Howard's real question is: will he be able to cling on as leader after this election?