Bruce Anderson

Posh, intolerant Nick Boles is a danger to the Conservative Party

In politics, there is a basic test of seriousness: linguistic self-discipline. You should never provide the opposition with ammunition; never say anything which could be quoted against your own party. This is doubly true if you are a minister.

A few days ago, Nick Boles made one sensible point, though it was hardly a new one. For decades, the Tories have often been seen as the toffs’ party, neglectful of the interests of ordinary people. Mr Boles argued that even after eight years, David Cameron has failed to put that right.

There are three responses to that. First, it is an exaggeration. If Mrs Thatcher had been doing this well in the polls at this stage of a Parliament, she would have wondered what she was doing wrong.

Second, this government has succeeded in neutralising one of Labour’s principal weapons: the NHS. Of course, Labour will assert that the Tories have virtually destroyed the Health Service and that another Tory government would finish it off. But that claim has less and less credibility; Labour has a large hole in its armoury.

Third, has Nick Boles been paying any attention to the economy? Is he aware that we have had to endure the worst recession for seventy years and that millions of people have suffered a decline in real wages? Is he aware of the depth of economic anxiety throughout the country? In all these circumstances, it is a miracle that the governing party still has a serious chance of winning the next election.

If Mr Boles had his way, he would put that right. He believes that many voters see Tories as aliens. To persuade them that his fellow MPs did not arrive from outer space, he wants Tories to boast about homosexual marriage and to call themselves National Liberals.

Whatever view one takes about same-sex marriage, one point is surely self-evident.

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