If the polls are to be believed Britain could well end up with a Tory government in the summer of 2010. Let's be clear about what this means. It does not mean a friendly, hood-hugging, vote blue go green, compassionate, one nation Tory administration. Conservative Home's Tim Montgomerie seems to revel in the fact that the latest survey of Tory MP hopefuls indicates that his party is moving further and further to the right. Indeed he appears to be quite happy that his leader's attempt to ensure that candidates selected reflect the caring and compassionate side of the Tory party has spectacularly failed. According to Montgomerie the collective views of newly selected Tory candidates will give heart to the Thatcherite wing of the party and cause the likes of Ken Clarke to ponder where it all went wrong.
The latest survey of Tory candidates carried out by Conservative Home makes very interesting reading, however the questions asked are probably more interesting than the answers. For example the survey contains not a single question on housing, education or health - apparently the public is more interested in whether Tory candidates support the right of Catholics or other religious adoption charities to decline to place children with same sex couples. Candidates are asked about Iran but not about Iraq, about nuclear power but not about the need for more renewables. It would appear that Tory Associations up and down the land have been selecting candidates that reflect their own, traditional - often reactionary - views and not those of the leadership. Having said that Cameron himself has changed. Following the 2007 summer of despair Cameron was warned by his whips that he needed to embrace more "traditional" core Tory issues like Europe, crime and the family. Yet again a newly elected Tory leader was forced (by his own reactionary right wing) to move to the right in an attempt to hang on to the Tory core vote. The survey suggests that the Tories are still selecting candidates who believe that the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views.
Progressive politics? Forget it. Montgomerie's survey tells us a great deal about the Tory party of today and what it would be like if - heaven forbid - it were to form the next government. It tells us that Tory candidates are largely Eurosceptic, pretty much pro-nuclear and believe that England does not get a fair deal in terms of the distribution of the nation's finances. What goes around comes around, the hard right is coming and we need to expose them for what they are, who they are and what they stand for.