Something weird is going on. People don’t hate the Tories as much as they should. They do hate the Liberal Democrats, or rather Clegg. The only other contemporary Lib Dem most would recognise is Cable, and people are, at the time of writing, suspending judgement on him. We still don’t know what he might do. He could just go nuts with a chainsaw, so no-one wants to write him off quite yet.
Generally, the Liberal Democrats have become a stab-vest for the Tories. This fact alone, however, can’t fully explain the fact that the Conservatives are not more widely loathed. Maybe people have fallen for the newness. The Tories have taken on human form, which is when they’re at their most dangerous.
Even some progressive commentators are toying with the idea that they might be on some kind of journey. John Harris in the Guardian suggested that the ‘big society’ should not be dismissed too readily by ‘the tired old left’. I don’t consider either of those adjectives to be an insult, by the way.
Of course, Conservatives are actually human and, aside from a fear of the unwashed and a simpleton’s optimism about markets, they’re not always rigidly ideological. They might easily smile on the odd co-op if they thought it an amusing wheeze.
Cameron and chums seem to be in politics mostly for their own entertainment. It’s no wonder Dave gets on so well with Prince William. They both treat Britain as their play-thing, and perhaps Britain has mistaken their cavalier attitude to it as a refreshing informality that humanises serious men who have a profound sense of duty and a poshness that’s almost a burden. I fear Britain has not shaken off a deference that borders on masochism, and which helped to keep Thatcher in power for a very long time.