Alex Massie Alex Massie

Liam Fox shows David Cameron how to lead the Tories to a historic defeat

I think it is fair to say that Dr Liam Fox has never been one of David Cameron’s chief chums. The former Defence Secretary has, as Paul Goodman notes, been closer to George Osborne. Be that as it may, his speech today is a fine reminder of Dr Fox’s political limitations. This is the kind of stuff – and the kind of man, frankly – that helps explain why the Conservative party has not won a general election majority since 1992.

Think on that and think on how much Britain has changed these past 21 years and how little the Tory party has. Dr Fox ignored all this, delivering a call to arms like it was 1981 All Over Again. But it is not. According to Fox, however:

The great socialist coup of the last decade was making wealth an embarrassment. It is not. It is the prize for aspiration and hard-work and its side effects are higher tax revenues, more jobs and more investment.

Oh really? This is – and I apologise for using the technical term here – moronic. But what a way to make it seem as though your party really is more concerned with the troubles of the super-wealthy than with the fate of the middle and aspiring-to-be-middle classes. Is Fox really ignorant of the fact that, in real terms, average earnings have been stagnant for a decade? Is he really unaware that this misfortune has not applied to the wealthiest Britons whose remuneration has increased considerably in real terms and vastly more, relatively speaking, than the pay received by Britons on average or below average earnings.

If this reflects a government-sponsored programme designed to shame the wealthy then, blimey, it is even less effective than most government programmes. I see little embarrassment about wealth on the Tory benches anyway. It’s not the actual toffs who are the problem; it’s the grasping and thrusting self-made Tories who sneer that the rest of the country could be just like them if only they were prepared to bloody work hard enough.

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