Ed West

The Tories are getting behind all the daftest progressive causes

The Tories are getting behind all the daftest progressive causes
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One of the strange things I keep on hearing about this feeble government is that it has been spurred by Brexit to launch a culture war and reverse the Cameron-era detoxification of the party. They're taking us back to the 50s, or the Victorian era, or maybe 1065. It's one of those things one sees being written so often that it must surely be true – except if you actually read what government ministers say, or study their policies. Just this week, for example, it's already been announced that prisoners could now get the vote, and that returning jihadis might get priority in social housing.

Earlier last month the Tories brought out a new report aimed at pursuing the utterly unachievable goal of racial equality of outcome, a debate that no conservative is ever going to win. Around the same time, the British government also declared that the highly problematic and controversial term 'pregnant woman' should not be used in a United Nations Treaty as it excludes transgender people. They also introduced plans to make it easier for people to decide their own gender, which I'm sure won't have any unintended consequences whatsoever (isn't that idea supposed to be at the core of conservatism?).

Look at the actual press releases issued by government departments, rather than the angry comment pieces; it's all child migrants, hate crime, mental health, modern slavery – fashionable, progressive causes, nothing that will raise an eyebrow among the 21st century Upper Ten Thousand.

This is a government far more keen on Cameroonian modernisation than Cameron's was – they're just rubbish at it, and none of their target audience cares because of Brexit. They seem to have mastered the art of reverse triangulation, subtly sending out a signal to traditional conservatives that they're hopelessly defeatist while simultaneously appealing utterly repulsive to progressives. They made a major error, in my opinion, by not from the very start making a pledge to protect the rights of the three million Europeans living here.

It was a terrible strategic mistake that sent entirely the wrong signals when the Government really needed the moral high ground and Britain had to appear welcoming to our neighbours. If I had been a Government adviser I would have told the Prime Minister to give a warm welcoming speech the very day after she entered Number 10; I'd have arranged it to be done in front of the Polish War Memorial in Northolt, ending it with some Ataturk-like words about their children being our children now.

The next week, I would have got her making a similarly high-profile speech calling UK-born Isis fighters 'traitors' and 'enemies' and declaring that every single one would be stripped of their British passports and deported, where possibleand that anyone else who felt remotely sympathetic to their cause can piss off as well.

Instead the Tories are getting behind all the daftest and least popular progressive causes, like a desperate middle-aged man trying to get down with the kids, naming all the bands they hate and using five year out of date slang. I wouldn't say this is the worst government in my lifetime, but it's certainly in the bottom one.

Written byEd West

Ed West is the author of The Diversity Illusion, 1215 and All That and is writing a series of books on medieval history

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