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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Has the Tory party lost the plot?

Have the fruitcakes taken over the Tory asylum? Frank McKenna reflects on two Conservative conferences that took place this week.

It is generally accepted that, whatever you think of his policies or his government, Rishi Sunak has restored some dignity, maturity, and credibility to the office of prime minister, following the trials, tribulations of the Johnson years, and the Truss Weeks.

He, more than anyone then, must be shaking his head in bewilderment, as those who another former Conservative leader, David Cameron, described as “loonies and fruitcakes” appear to have come together at two major conferences this week, in a show of what appears to be a collective nervous breakdown of the Tory Party.

Last weekend the ‘Bring Back Boris’ crew, also known as the Conservative Democratic Organisation, gathered in Bournemouth to heap scorn on the key issues afflicting Great Britain, or more accurately, (Little) England. Out-of-control immigration, high taxation, a cost-of-living-crisis, the country’s loss of international credibility, and, of course, the abject failure to ‘get Brexit done’.

It appeared to have escaped the notice of the swivel-eyed delegates that these problems are all on Sunak’s ‘to deal with’ list as a result of the inability of their party, having been in charge of the country for thirteen years – indeed, their hero Boris was at the helm for three of them.

To be fair to him, even the ‘blonde bombshell’ suggested a less than enthusiastic response to the gathering, sending in a pre-recorded video address to the president of his fan club Nadine and the gathered cheerleaders, rather than attending the lunatic convention in person.

A few days later, and another Conservative fringe group and conference emerged, as the ‘National Conservativism’ three-day jamboree got underway in London.

This Conservative collective seemed more about auditioning for future leaders, rather than celebrating past (or present) Tory bosses, and Suella Braverman took centre stage. She told the madding crowd how outraged she was at the country’s inability to get immigration under control. Wait until she finds out who has the main responsibility for sorting that out in the current government….

At one level, we can dismiss all this noise as the dying embers of a party that has been in power too long and has lost its way. Or we can see it as a further erosion of serious political discussion and debate in the country, where outrageous soundbites, Twitter posts, and Instagram images replace grown up, thoughtful politics.

After all, following its long period in office, Labour lurched to the left, a little at first under Miliband, but then all-in nuts with Jeremy Corbyn.

The problem this leads to, as we have witnessed, is one—party rule and dominance without due scrutiny and opposition. Look where that has left us.

There is also something a little bit sinister about some of the messaging coming out of these Tory tête-à-têtes. You don’t have to listen too carefully to some of the conference contributions this week to assume that for ‘anti-woke’ you can read anti-abortion, anti-divorce, and anti-gay. The ‘new’ Conservatives seem intent on taking Britain back to the 1950’s rather than moving our country forward to become a dynamic, twenty-first century, entrepreneurial, socially balanced nation.

Many felt that during the Corbyn years, Labour had been taken over by the Trots (Trotskyists). Has the Tory Party been infiltrated by UKIP (aka loonies and fruitcakes)?

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