Ross Clark Ross Clark

What James Daly’s parenting jibe says about the Tories

James Daly (Credit: PA images)

I am guessing that Tory MP James Daly has given up trying to defend his majority of 105 in Bury North, has accepted that he will need to find a new job in the next 12 months and has decided to go out in style. I can’t think why else he would say, in an interview with the i newspaper, ‘When you think about the family, it’s about stability. Most of the kids who struggle in Bury are the products of crap parents and so what do we do to try to address that issue?’

He must surely know how his words will be used: that they will follow him around for the rest of his time in parliament, that they will be used to portray him as a heartless, Alan B’Stard character, that they will be used over and over again in the coming election campaign as representing the moment, supposedly, when a backbench MP let slip the Conservatives are, at heart, still the Nasty Party. Daly’s mind may no longer be in parliament, but does he really hate his colleagues so much that he wants to condemn those who might still have a fighting chance of retaining their seats? As for the New Conservatives – the grouping to which Daly belongs – they might as well now pack up and go home.     

The first rule for anyone who aspires to be a representative of the people is: don’t insult the electorate

Conservative MPs could sort of get away with this kind of comment in the 1980s, the era of ‘greed is good’. Insulting the electorate caused no end of offence, of course, even then. But there were just enough voters who shared a harsh attitude towards the low-aspirational poor to carry a bumptious MP along. But that era ended abruptly in 1997 when Tony Blair showed how it was possible to win an election with conservative policies – you carry on pushing pretty much the same policies as Thatcher and Major were doing, but without the harsh language. Send

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