There was much handwringing over how the pollsters got their election predictions so wrong. The concept of the 'Shy Tory' was brought to the fore and the pundits mulled over what would make somebody so embarrassed to admit their predilection for all things Conservative. Perhaps the following story will shed some light on it.
If there is one thing you could imagine that almost the entire political spectrum agree on it's the need for the greater participation by the public in our democratic processes. Greater election turnouts and larger grassroots' involvement would surely only be a good things?
In this spirit Labour made it possible to register with the party as a supporter, rather than become a full member, for only £3, and you would have the right to vote in the forthcoming leadership election. It would be good for Labour by letting their voters come in closer contact with the party and good for democracy by widening participation.
So it was with some disappointment that I read Toby Young was proposing to undermine this democratic experiment. He suggests that Tories pay the £3 and vote for a candidate he suggests will ruin the party's chances at the next election.
I'm not going to comment on the candidate because I've haven't made up my mind up yet and it's essentially irrelevant. I will though acknowledge the comic value of the idea. On the surface it seems like a fun premise to hang an article that is essentially an excuse to bash Labour and the Left on. The problem only starts when people actually put the idea into practice and sadly apparently some Tories really are signing up.
At best this is a waste of the Labour Party's time, as they'll have to sieve through the list disqualifying people who, as it clearly states, are required to be genuine supporters. This is time and energy that could better be spent for everyone's benefit on being an effective opposition, as any strong democracy requires.
At worst you've tried to undermine 240,000 people's vote. Unlike the Tory elite, the average Labour member will not be spending a quarter of a million pounds for dinner with David Cameron. Instead they contribute a little money each month in the hope of creating a voice for the voiceless.
If you register as a Labour Supporter out of spite you might as spit in the face of the next ordinary person you meet. Given Labour's core support it like shitting on the floor of your local hospital just to watch the staff clean it up.
I appreciate that I will be accused of being humourless Leftie, which is half true, but then this is the kind of joke enjoyed by coked up public school boys laughing as they wave money in the face of the homeless. I honestly suspect most Conservatives will think Tony Young's idea disgusting.
It's this level of juvenility and dirty politics that turns people off politics and would make a person embarrassed admit they vote Tory. I can only hope that this underhanded behaviour inspires Labour voters to come off the bench, register, and make their voices heard.