Tory divisions are tearing party apart

Even the opponents of the Tory Party have often said that whatever setbacks the Conservatives have faced, the party always recovers. It will never disappear, they say.
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

But could the row over Europe be just too much for the Tories to survive? To say the party is in turmoil is an understatement. It is involved in a grisly civil war, tearing itself to ribbons. Some of the remarks have been so personal and insulting that one wonders how the Conservatives can ever be a united party of sweetness and light after the referendum result is announced, whichever way it goes.

Sir John Major, who is still a powerful voice in the Tory Party, has denounced Justice Secretary Michael Gove, saying he should be ashamed of his campaign for Brexit. There is now a distinct coolness between Gove and David Cameron, once the closest of friends.

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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is flailing about in all directions at those of his colleagues who, he claims, want to see a Hitler-type state in Europe.

Some of these wounds may be too deep to heal. So could we be looking at the unthinkable – a British political scenario bereft of a Tory Party as we know it today? It certainly cannot now be ruled out.

Some years ago, Margaret Thatcher said she wanted to see the map of Scotland painted blue again. At that time, the politics in Scotland was dominated by Labour. But at the recent Scottish Parliamentary elections, Labour flopped badly. Instead, the Scottish National Party, which shook everyone by its successes at the general election in May last year, remains the dominant party north of the border.

But that supremacy has been dented by the advances of the Conservatives under their tough leader Ruth Davidson. Under her leadership last month, the Tories pushed Labour into third place in Scotland – a feat regarded as virtually impossible only a few months ago.

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Could Davidson become the new Margaret Thatcher? That is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Davidson, who has already been termed The Iron Lassie, has started on her work with the paint brush. Expect more daubs of blue paint in the not-too-distant future. This lady does not give up. It looks as though the Tartan Tories could be on the march again...