Alex Massie Alex Massie

Confronting the Tories’ original sin: they are still seen as the party of the rich.

Dominic Cummings is at it again. Michael Gove’s former advisor has become a reliably entertaining guide to the Whitehall labyrinth. It is plain, too, that Cummings likes to think of himself as a Teller Of Hard Truths Many Of Which Our Masters Prefer Not To Contemplate Too Deeply If At All. This is fun.

His latest post purports to be about swing voters, immigration and the EU but it is really about the biggest problem afflicting the Conservative party: who is it for? And who is it seen to be for? As Cummings puts it:

The fundamental problem the Conservative Party has had since 1997 at least is that it is seen as ‘the party of the rich, they don’t care about public services’. This is supported by all serious market research. Another problem that all parties have is that their promises are not believed. This includes Conservative promises on immigration since 1997 which have not been credible. Now, people have four years experience of a Conservative prime minister and they can see that he has not stopped hundreds of thousands entering the country despite promising to do so.

Bang. On. Everything else is just chaff, really. In that respect, the war between the Traditionalists and the Modernisers rather missed the point. Trads said Look, the public agree with us on many things so we just need to keep banging on about the things we think that are actually popular. Fine, said the Mods, but no-one is going to listen to you or give you the benefit of the doubt unless we prove this isn’t the Tory party voters grew to hate.

And actually both sides had a point. Trads are right that Tory views on europe and immigration and so on are actually quite popular.

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