So, we’ve had nearly a week to digest the results of the American election and contemplate what, if anything, it might all mean for politics there and, naturally, in this country too.
Let’s begin with a necessary caveat: the “read-across” from American elections to the British political scene is something that must be handled deftly. If considered with a sensible measure of proportion, however, it can be instructive since some of the challenges facing political leaders in Britain are comparable in kind (though not always in degree) to those faced by their cousins in the United States.
Demographics aren’t destiny and policy matters more than journalists sometimes liked to pretend. As Ross Douthat put it in a typically wise column:
What the [Republican] party really needs, much more than a better identity-politics pitch, is an economic message that would appeal across demographic lines — reaching both downscale white voters turned off by Romney’s Bain Capital background and upwardly mobile Latino voters who don’t relate to the current G.O.P. fixation on upper-bracket tax cuts.
The details differ but isn’t this something the Tory party needs to keep in mind too? Like the Republican party the Conservatives still need to work on ridding themselves of the perception they are a party who can be relied upon to over-privilege the interests of the already-wealthy. That perception limits their appeal in ways sectional and geographic alike. It damages the Tories with C1 and C2 “strivers” while also hampering their efforts to compete in the north of England (and Scotland). That’s why I still believe the Tory obsession with cutting income tax for the wealthiest Britons such a mistake even if it might make sense in strict economic terms.
Meanwhile there’s another line of thought, one excellently-expressed by Matt d’Ancona recently:
It is through this [heterodox] prism that gay marriage is best understood.