Fifth Tory win could alter entire political system

Issues like Europe would create opposition from within the party's own ranks
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Indy Politics
Another Conservative election win - a fifth consecutive victory - might damage democracy, but it could also bring about a new parliamentary system in which the opposition came from within Tory ranks.

"It won't be a hegemony for a five-year term," one Tory MP warned yesterday. "Another Conservative government would only be able to govern with cross- party support on issues like Europe and the single currency - with the backing of a Labour Party that believes in greater integration.

"The normal coalitions, within the parties, are falling apart. We could have as many as 100 Conservative MPs in the next Parliament who have pledged themselves against a single currency in their election addresses. There now seems to be a consensus across the House on spending and taxation. There are no great issues left now between the leaderships of the two main parties, but Europe will provide the focus for resistance.

"Will democracy be damaged by the re-election of the Conservatives? That depends on the composition of the new House of Commons - whether there are enough Conservative MPs with the will to stand up to the presidential system."

But he was concerned about the feeling of disenfranchisement of voters who would begin to feel that their votes were making no difference.

There are also fears that civil unrest could result from the pent-up frustration of voters who were always on the losing side. "Increased enthusiasm for extra-parliamentary activity could be desperately dangerous," one senior Tory told The Independent.

"There would be even more enthusiasm for simply circumventing the parliamentary process, and taking these issues into one's own hands in a way that starts to run up against the rule of law; it starts to run up against the principles of free speech and the democratic decision-making process."

One Tory backbencher said that if Labour lost again, the party would lurch to the left, while a Tory defeat would send the Conservatives spinning to the Right. "Isn't it always the case that in the wake of electoral defeat, parties tend to drift toward their least attractive extreme? Because that is where the intellectual soul of the party tends to be buried.

"The Labour Party is a party of socialism, it's a party of egalitarianism. The Tories are a party of free enterprise, of capitalism, of private greed, whatever you want to call it. But it's quite clear that the Tories, when they lose, will start moving to the right. It's always the same. 'If only we had been truer to our principles,' they say.

"So it seems to me that if Labour lose, then the damage to the Labour Party is absolutely horrendous."

Another source said: "It's been said before that the Tories may, if they're sensible, benefit from losing the election. It will actually persuade some of our colleagues that it's not enough to be right, you've got to explain to people how you're right. Perhaps we've got out of touch with people, perhaps we stopped communicating with them. As such, we've forfeited that link with them which used to be our strongest weapon.

"Mrs Thatcher's link with the average Briton, the average British family, was very strong, very powerful; her instincts tended to be right. Those instincts have been less sure over recent years."