Friday, 19 May 2017
One Nation Mayism
Television producers are fond of taking us on journeys, or at least of assuring us that this is what they are doing. Whether the programme is a high budget drama, a documentary about astronomy or show about gardening, they start by informing us of the journey we are about to embark upon and the exciting twists and turns we will navigate together.
The story of the last twelve months for this country has been a journey of cosmic proportions. This time last year we were heading towards the referendum with a prime minister who was confident of victory but not sufficiently confident that he wasn't trying to frighten us all with tales of economic doom and even war if we rejected his advice. We rejected it anyway.
Labour, meantime, embarked on their own journey to their present sorry state under a leader who refuses to go and is intent upon taking us all on a journey into the dirty brown sick-man-of-Europe 1970s, of union power, nationalised industries propped up by the taxpayer and eye-wateringly high taxes.
Cameron was said to be a PM who was the modern face, a man more popular than his party. And yet, by a process more by luck than design, the Tories now find themselves led by another woman who is not only more popular than they are but who is even tempting Labour voters to put crosses by their names in record numbers. Back in 2015 we were told that the Tories would never win a majority again and that coalitions were the future. Now it is hard to see anyone but Tories running the country for the foreseeable future. They even have another formidable woman leading them in Scotland and making the SNP talk about something other than independence for a change.
All of which makes yesterday's launch of the Conservative manifesto so impressive. This was a far reaching and bold document, not because it was blue through and through but because it was a very real attempt, at a time of no serious opposition, to govern in a grown up way and to do so for everyone.
It is certainly true of course that much of what is in that manifesto will be criticised by political opponents and painted as extreme and harsh. But this was anything but. It was firm and fair. It was an attempt at intergenerational fairness. It was an attempt to square several circles that have bedevilled governments on both ends of the political spectrum for years or even generations. In contrast to the litany of political licentiousness that was the absurd document presented by the Labour Party this week, this was a grown up and serious prospectus from a government that is prepared to speak truth about being in power and of the hard choices that follow. Labour's manifesto by contrast was risible and extreme and spoke of their surrender 3 weeks out. It was a deliberate attempt to shore up Chauncey's position with the feckless fantasists who cheer his every utterance like he is a political Messiah. He's not the Messiah; he's a very stupid boy surrounded by people who can't add up.
The Conservative manifesto is a declaration of intent. It is a seizing of the centre ground. It is an attempt to go from the nasty party to the one nation party they always were. Margaret Thatcher was never a nasty politician, she just didn't believe in tiptoeing around harsh truths about Britain's post industrial reality. Theresa May is now attempting the same trick in different but no less challenging times. She is as no nonsense as her predecessor and every bit as determined. It is why, despite her dull and humourless caricature, the British people have so warmed to her. A year ago nobody could possibly have seen that coming. As journeys go, it's all turned out rather splendidly so far hasn't it.