Article 32

Knowledge Versus Belief In The Formulation Of Party-Specific Policies.

In an article in The Daily Telegraph of 16/10/20, entitled ‘Boris must not betray the voters who made him Prime Minister’, and sub-titled, ‘Tory infighting is about much more than Dominic Cummings: the party’s very future is at stake’, Nick Timothy states that ‘amid all the confusion sown by briefing and counter-briefing, gossip and smears, the Tories face a remarkably simple strategic choice. Do they want to become the party whose MPs are respectable enough to win back-invitations to dinner parties in Islington and Notting Hill, or to make themselves the party of provincial normality – dependable enough to champion the values and interests of ordinary working people?’ Thus, he claims that ‘this choice – between appealing to the Respectable or the Dependable – lies at the heart of the struggle we will witness in the coming weeks and months’; that ‘it will determine not only Boris Johnson’s premiership, but also the future of the Conservative Party, and the shape of British politics for years to come’; that ‘it will be a ferocious fight’; that ‘for much of recent history, the Respectable had things their way’; that ‘they enjoyed in David Cameron a leader who prioritised fighting climate change, reducing public spending, ‘and keeping Britain inside the European Union’; that ‘with the approval of the Respectable, he sought and won an electoral coalition based on his liberal and affluent perspective, until he lost the referendum that led to Brexit’; that ‘Cameron had made conservatism acceptable again’; and that ‘prosperous liberals could vote for it in their economic self-interest reassured that the Tories were led by a man with is own wind turbine’.

Yet, Nick Timothy observes that ‘the referendum killed Cameron’s coalition of voters and led to the usurpation of the posh and privileged by the plain and provincial’; that ‘the elections of 2017 and 2019 saw the departure of the leading Respectables, such as George Osborne and Amber Rudd, the establishment of a new coalition of Tory voters, and the arrival in Parliament of dozens of new Dependables, with high-income constituencies like Winchester now being marginals’, and ‘with ‘the party holding seats – often with large majorities – in Brexit-supporting seats like Middlesbrough and Walsall’.  Now, as Nick Timothy observes ‘with Dominic Cummings gone, the Respectables want their party back (as they think it), they say they want to “soften” the Government’s image, and imagine Boris Johnson governing as a reincarnated Cameron with messier hair and better jokes, they want to avoid a culture war, accepting instead of resisting extreme identity politics – from trans-genderism to theories of structural racism – which divide society and destroy trust and reciprocity: and they recommend a new political emphasis, not on jobs and financial security for ordinary families, but on climate change and other issues that gnaw at the consciences of the high-consuming and socially self-segregating rich’.

Again, Nick Timothy notes that ‘complicating matters, is the fact that the choice before the Tories  is not simply between the status quo and the preferred agenda of the Respectables, it is between two very different futures’; that ‘to become the Dependables, to deliver for the party’s new voters, the Government will need to be far bolder than it has been hitherto in delivering for them’; that ‘a year on from giving Boris Johnson his majority, voters in constituencies like Dudley and Workington have little so far to show for it’; that ‘yes, Britain  will soon be out of the transition phase as we leave the European Union’; that ‘yes, as Covid-19 struck the economy, Rishi Sunak’s business support and furlough schemes have kept companies and families afloat’; but that ‘the much vaunted points-based immigration system will almost certainly fail to reduce the number of people coming to Britain’; that ‘there is little sign of the new industrial strategy which will bring growth to the regions, no trace of the decentralisation proposals to put power in the hands of local communities, and no confidence that we will see the decisive shift needed to fund the technical education and training the country so badly needs’; that ‘things will get tougher’; that ‘a year ago, it was possible to imagine the Tories borrowing more to fund regional infrastructure spending’; that ‘it was possible even to imagine them funding the increases in day-to-day spending made necessary to “level up” the country; but now that Covid’ response has blown a hole in the public finances, this intent is in doubt’.   Nick Timothy concludes that ‘the durability of the new Tory support would be tested not during periods of political peace, but when hard choices have to be made’; that ‘sure enough, ministers and advisers have been arguing for some time about whether Covid’s fiscal impact means they must retreat from the promises they made to their new voters’; that ‘this would be a terrible mistake’; that ‘if Boris Johnston wants to govern for the whole country – the true meaning of the One Nation tradition – he has to stick with the provinces’; that ‘if he wants his electoral coalition to hold together, he needs to show – now more than ever, when the chips are down- that he puts ordinary working families with modest means first; that if later this requires asking more of the privileged and prosperous, then so be it, and in fact so much the better, because it will show, at the toughest moments,  t

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