A while back I remember reading an article in which, on the back of the Royal Wedding, a senior Tory was predicting that with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to come, Britain was set for a wave of patriotism which would benefit his party.
Well the wave of patriotism is certainly upon us, but there is precious little sign of it delivering any benefit to the Tories. That prediction was made during the period when a rather soft glow of largely uncritical coverage surrounded the coalition. Since then the media have caught up with what many members of the public have thought for a long time.
I imagine that what the Tory in question was thinking that with Downton Abbey a current cultural icon, an old Etonian as Prime Minister and another as London Mayor, the country had re-accepted all the old values that New Labour challenged, and that the Tories would benefit from a more traditional outlook on life.
What they fail to realise is that the Monarchy, and particularly the Queen, are bucking the trends of negativity. She is doing so because at times of instability and insecurity, people look to those people and institutions which deliver and communicate a sense of stability and security. Even ardent Republicans must acknowledge she does that brilliantly.
The government meanwhile are major contributors to the insecurity and instability, which is impacting upon the economy, jobs and living standards, public services and those who work in them, and a private sector that is not growing as they said it would when they took the knife to the State.
Hats off to Jeremy Paxman by the way for sitting back and letting economist Paul Krugman give a brilliant economics lecture last night to a hopeless Tory MP and a venture capitalist. If you missed it, get onto iplayer.
And if you don’t read the Financial Times, enjoy this extract from today’s editorial … George Osborne won’t.
The paper says that ‘with Britain back in recession and the eurozone in crisis, the country needs its Chancellor to have a firm grip and a steady nerve and that Osborne is making rather a poor fist of both. …Things will only get tougher as austerity starts to bite. He must defend and explain policies better. And he needs to devise meaningful ways to ensure the flow of credit to businesses and to encourage more public investment spending. Osborne’s silence has cost the Government. He must recover some of his old vim – and fast.’
Of course another reason why the Tories are less likely to make political capital from the Olympics is Jeremy Hunt, the Olympics minister, but something of a 2012 passenger as he devotes most of his time to defending the indefensible, namely his own continuing position at the Cabinet table.
So with David Cameron’s comms director facing perjury allegations, his own links to News International yet to come under forensic scrutiny, the economy faltering, a U-turn from a half-baked policy every day, virtually every group of public service professionals offside, Osborne’s star waning, Hunt in trouble, Warsi in trouble, and Tory strength in depth so weak that we are expected to take seriously the idea of Gove v Johnson as the next leadership election, it will take more than the Queen’s popularity and the joy of sport to dig them out of the hole.