Many Tory ideas have been implemented by a kleptomaniac Labour government.
Many older voters appoint a proxy to vote for them. Unable to get to the polling station themselves they entrust their vote to a friend or member of the family.
Over recent years Britain’s conservative majority has often voted for conservative-sounding policies but they haven’t trusted the Tory Party to implement those policies. Labour has been their proxy.
Part of the political success of Blairism has been its enthusiasm for stealing Tory policies. Tony Blair has sounded tough on crime. David Blunkett made right-wing noises on immigration. Giant Labour advertising billboards promised no income tax rises. Tony Blair once told The Sun of his love of the pound.
With New Labour, Britain’s voters have hoped for conservative policies to be enacted by people who appear kinder and more down-to-earth than the Tories. ‘Caveman conservatives’ never had the imagination to link ‘core vote’ policies with ‘good for my neighbour’ causes.
Conservatives have ended up governing – a little - by proxy. They may not have had the opportunity to implement their ideas but they’ve witnessed Labour (often incompetently) try to implement many of them.
Without William Hague’s 'keep the pound' campaigning Labour may have taken Britain into the eurozone. Other ideas from Peter Lilley (on health), John Hayes (on housing), Iain Duncan Smith (on school discipline) and Oliver Letwin (on cutting waste from Gordon Brown’s fat government) have been adopted by Labour.
Governing by proxy is something of a consolation for out-of-office Tories but not much. Most depressing is seeing good ideas discredited by inept implementation. Labour have worn good clothes so badly that the Conservatives now need to be careful what they wear on the electoral catwalk.