Those who think the Tories are wilful and uncaring may be right, especially having seen the party’s election manifesto. But there are people out there rather more wilful, and certainly more uncaring, and they are the right-leaning part of the Pundit Establishment, those trousering six-figure salaries to pontificate on why the political stance of those earning a small fraction of that amount should align with theirs.
He's desperate, Dan
And recently joining that right-leaning band on his generously remunerated floor-crossing journey has been the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has signed on to the imperial progress of the Empress Theresa so enthusiastically that the merest wobble in the opinion polls gives him a visible case of the vapours. Thus it was with his attempt to get MoS readers to “look over there”.
“In an instant, Theresa May has killed off Thatcherism. It may end in disaster. But by God, she is brave” read the grovelling headline. Yes, pensioners wary of losing all but the last £100,000 of equity in their houses, and children seeing their modest inheritance vanishing before their eyes, the Tories may be proposing to crap all over you, but think how brave they are being! And, er, what has Ms May actually killed off?
“Thursday’s manifesto launch represented Theresa May’s Clause IV moment. Where [Tony] Blair had tried sleight of hand, she, characteristically, preferred bluntness”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “‘For too many people in Britain today, life is simply much harder than many seem to think or realise. They are not ideological. They don’t buy into grand visions. They aren’t fooled by politicians who promise the earth and claim no tough choices are required’”. Yes, she said that. But, so what? What’s such a big deal?
“In that instant, Thatcherism - and its dogmatic faith in the power of free markets - died. Along with John Major’s sepia tinted vision of Britain, and David Cameron’s liberal, metro-centric Toryism”. How, exactly? “To grasp the full significance of what she said you need to understand what she didn’t say. Mrs May could have ignited the blow-torch of a new Conservative revolution. A bonfire of regulation. The slashing of taxes. An acceleration of deficit reduction, coupled with a fresh assault on public services”.
I hate to mention this to Dan, but she didn’t exclude any of that. He’s not for listening, though, preferring to sup a little more Tory Kool-Aid: “Who could have stopped her? The Election is won. The official Opposition are a rabble. Her opponents within her own party are still reeling from her turbo-ascent to the premiership. But instead, she lined up the Conservative Party’s holy cows, and slayed them”.
Theresa May slayed nothing. And the idea that Dan Hodges’ witterings carry more authority because he attended a Labour Party conference almost 23 years ago does not stand serious analysis. Instead, he ought to start learning about the Tory Party. When Hodges cites claims such as “We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous” as some kind of Damascene conversion, it is nothing of the sort.
The Tory Party is the party of the Establishment. And the Establishment always figures out how to look after itself - even if it means having to co-opt a few of the lower orders to achieve its goals. Dogma was never the name of the game. It’s all about being in power.