Cameron may think he mashed the Turnip Taliban with a patronising campaign of ridicule, but grassroots grumbling has not gone away and has now returned in the form of the Midlands Militia that makes up the Corby Conservative Association. Following the recent abdication from the Corby throne of wannabe Cameron Queen, Louise Mensch, and subsequent by-election humiliation in November that saw Labour regain the seat with a substantial majority, the local activists that remain are finding their voice again. Speaking to the Northamptonshire Telegraph, Cllr David Sims, leader of the Conservative group on the borough council, said:
It could be very frustrating for us at times when Louise Mensch was in office.
The local Conservatives are not clones from Central Office or career politicians sent in by the party, but hard-working Corby people who care deeply about the town and who are involved in local politics to further Corby’s interests and to help bring this great place the bright future it deserves. Of course we wanted to win the recent by-election, but we are now in a position where the new Team Corby Conservatives will have the freedom to do things the Corby way.
Trapped in a party political model the Corby Tories will find their apparent freedom after the Mensch’s emigration affords them only limited room for manoeuvre. They are constrained by undemocratic party rules and direction by an autocratic leader who can only be removed if a sufficient number of Conservative MPs trigger a leadership contest.
While some are defecting to UKIP far more are simply walking away from party politics altogether, despite being passionate about a number of burning issues, such as UK membership of the EU. This is fertile ground for non-party grassroots movements to plough. As more former party members realise there are campaigns in which they can contribute a great deal, party political tribalism will contract until it contains only the career politicians, policy wonks and ‘special advisors’ and the next self selecting generation coming out of college to climb the greasy pole into those roles.
Party politics is moving into old age and the countdown to its inevitable demise continues. The future will be rather different and more democratic.