Hugo Rifkind Hugo Rifkind

We know who Theresa May is against. But who is she for?

The Prime Minister has vowed to help the people in the middle – but who are they?

One of the professional drawbacks of coming from Scotland and then moving to London is that I don’t really know an awful lot about England. True, I spent a few years in East Anglia on my way south, but it was a particular part of East Anglia that possibly has rather more dreaming Gothic spires, rusted bicycles and robotics labs than the norm, so I’m not sure it was wholly representative.

Still, I know the cities. I have spent enough time in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, say, to know that they are not so terribly different from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness or even the bits of Edinburgh without the cobbles. Furthermore, I cleave to a firm — if easy to ridicule — belief that even a fairly affluent life in central-ish London leaves you considerably more in touch with the concerns of the urban poor nationwide than a middling-income life somewhere more provincial and green. You rely on public transport, for example. You walk the same cluttered streets and use the same health services. Despite your comparative wealth, the traditional aspirations of the middle classes — private schooling, a house with a garden, your kid getting to ride a pony — remain farcically out of reach. Too often, the instinctive leftiness of the relatively high-earning urban intelligentsia is regarded as some sort of trendy affectation. It’s not. It’s rational and for real.

It’s also not what Theresa May is remotely interested in, in any way at all. We are not her people. Moreover, the urban poor — with whom the likes of me tell ourselves, however ludicrously, we can identify — are not her people either. So the question I am currently pondering, here in my bubble, is: who is? Who are the Theresa May Conservatives that are about to take their country back? Where have they been hiding?

Perhaps almost everywhere.

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