Wednesday, December 8

The Conservatives are now the party of England. Changing that will be difficult | Work


TO A simple question haunts politics: after everything this country has gone through in the last year, and amid controversies that seem to flare up on a weekly basis, how is it possible that the Conservatives have ended up in such a dominant political position?

Over the past week, the gruesome spectacle of NHS staff facing a real situation pay cut it has been made more apparent by the mountains of money that we now know have been wasted in a dysfunctional test and trace system. But will even this scandal really change anything? A recent YouGov survey it put the Tories 13 points ahead of Labor. It seems unlikely that the May local elections will see any kind of significant change. To quote the radio host James O’Brien: “His complete failure to protect us from huge, real, and fatal problems doesn’t seem to matter.”

Anti-conservative optimists may respond that in politics the things that should matter sometimes rot for months or years before they finally matter a lot. Others will focus on the launch of the vaccine and attribute the sudden surge in popularity of conservatives to the one thing related to Covid that the government has gotten right. There are many theories about the simple fate of the prime minister and the concept of “Teflon Boris”. But there is another point to be made, about the deep and complicated reasons why people tend to back particular parties and the state of British politics in 2021.

Journalists and politicians tend to attach great importance to politics, advertisements, and supposed successes and failures at the top. But these things are often less relevant to the question of who people vote for than confusing emotional factors: feelings of belonging, shared values, and whether or not politicians reflect the idealized sense of who they are. And for the moment, it appears that these things may be fueling a fascinating realignment evident in each of Britain’s three countries.

If traditional class politics has finally faded, what has replaced it? In England, Scotland, and Wales, could it be the emergence of specifically national politics based on a dominant party embodying enough sense of optimism and collective identity to set the agenda, while its adversaries fight for what’s left?

That appears to be the case in Scotland, where, although there are can be signs While the toxic feud between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond is slightly weakening the SNP’s grip on politics, its dominant position is hardly threatened. In Wales, although the Labor Party is not in such a strong position, its foundations in the most populated areas of that country and its talent for speaking with a softly nationalistic voice have ensured that its place at the heart of politics has always been safe.

Leaving England. Labor may still dominate every major English city, but in the rest of the country, enduring conservative themes such as law and order and patriotism, and the party’s seeming embodiment of optimism and opportunity, seem to have been merged with Brexit. to make the Conservatives even more immovable. The party has won more English votes than Labor in every general election since 2005. In 2019, his share of votes in England it was 47.2%. Since Statistics from across the UKWe also know that the Labor Party was supported by 30.6% of low-income voters, but 45.4% supported the Conservatives.

That election night, he was in Stoke-on-Trent, where all three parliamentary seats are now blue. Since 2015, he has had a council led by the Conservatives. And as the votes were counted in a huge entertainment center, I saw up close what the local Tories looked like: a mix of white and brown faces, full of confidence and spirits, while the Labor Party looked tired and helpless. One of the successful Conservative candidates was a teacher at a Birmingham secondary school; another, who was left with the job he had taken from Labor in 2017, was a 27-year-old locally raised named Jack Brereton, who had served as a city councilor. Evidently the party had presented itself to local voters as a grassroots force; And since 69% of Stoke voters had backed Brexit, the Conservatives’ position on that issue had solidified their sense of populist authenticity. This was a story that was repeated throughout England.

In the next few years, I don’t think conservatives will spend a lot of time defining themselves against Keir Starmer and his colleagues: after all, there isn’t much definition there. Instead, there will be the constant din of what some people will see as a very English culture war. Some of this will be raucous: those new TV channels that fixate on anything that is considered “waking up,” and regular screeches of parliamentarians and ministers on statues, street names and “heritage”. It seems to me that this material speaks to a small minority of the public. But there is another aspect of how the right characterizes its adversaries that is proving to be more effective: the idea that the left is now privileged, cold, snobbish and critical, and too interested in viewing entire swaths of the electorate as fanatical and stupid, while Boris Johnson leads a party that thinks the best of them. Wrapped up in this is a family refusal to acknowledge that racism in this country is deep and wide, and that conservatism too often encourages and enables it. But for many people, this stark view of politics rings true.

The smartest conservatives, moreover, will not behave as stupidly as some people seem to imagine. They know that they are susceptible to accusations of prejudice and evil, and there have been notable changes in the face that the party presents to the country. The next Conservative leadership contest could well be between Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid. While the Conservatives have given Britain two prime ministers, the Labor Party has yet to have even a leader. These things underscore something that should not be underestimated: an increasingly complex relationship with issues of diversity and representation, and a knack for avoiding old stereotypes.

Underneath all of this, of course, the truths of conservative politics linger. Conservatism is often cruel, cold, and surreal incompetent. If it appears broad-based, such appearances do not disguise the interests of wealthy white men; And if you have to duck to conquer, you rarely stop.

The current winning streak of the Conservatives may still be interrupted by the dire consequences of Brexit, and even the breakup of the United Kingdom, while their weak support among younger voters and blacks, Asians, and ethnic minorities it may eventually be their downfall. But given that the Conservative Party has spent much of the last century reinventing itself and craftily making big social changes, no one should expect that to stop suddenly. To understand the present and the future of politics, it is necessary to understand one thing above all others: that if the Conservatives have truly become the party of England, it will take a huge political effort to dislodge them.




www.theguardian.com

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