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Westlake Legal Group > Conservatism

Pew: Percentage of Republicans supporting a strong executive who can ignore Congress and judiciary tripled in past three years

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To paraphrase the earworm theme song from The Lego Movie, everything’s transactional — everything is cool when you’re part of a team. The good news from the latest Pew poll is that skepticism over executive power at the expense of Congress and the judiciary commands majorities overall and in all three political affiliations. The bad news? Republicans are now least likely to worry about it.

I wonder why?

Currently, 66% of the public says “it would be too risky to give U.S. presidents more power to deal directly with many of the country’s problems.” About three-in-ten adults (29%) offer the contrasting opinion that “problems could be dealt with more effectively if U.S. presidents didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts.” In March 2018, 76% of the public said it would be too risky to give presidents more power.

The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 10-15 among 1,502 adults, finds that Republicans’ views on this question have changed markedly since last year. About half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (51%) now say it would be too risky to give presidents more power, down from 70% last year.

The share of Republicans who say presidents could operate more effectively if they did not have to worry so much about Congress and the courts has increased 16 percentage points since then, from 27% to 43%.

If anything, that undersells the drama of the shift. Pew asks this question regularly which means we can see the history of the responses. When Barack Obama was in office, Republicans were much more enthusiastic about enforcing the coequality of the branches:

Westlake Legal Group pew-exec-power-1024x702 Pew: Percentage of Republicans supporting a strong executive who can ignore Congress and judiciary tripled in past three years The Blog Republican Party Pew poll donald trump Conservatism

The support for an imperial presidency tripled among Republicans since Obama was in office. Skepticism dropped by 31 points, 29 of which went right into the endorsement column. It is by far the biggest shift among the three parties.

It’s all the more amazing for a party that has been traditionally animated by federalism and by limited government. Even while holding the presidency, Democrats — animated more explicitly by big government and federal control — weren’t this enthusiastic about a President Pen and Phone. Two-thirds of Democrats remained skeptical about such executive authority after nearly eight years of controlling the White House, even though Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and had stalemated Obama’s agenda, and at the time fully expected Hillary Clinton to take the reins in January 2017.

And now? We’re only two-plus years into Trump’s first term in office, and already Republicans are down to a bare majority on that same question, 43/51. Republicans still control the Senate and are presently stacking the judiciary with conservatives for the next generation, and yet it seems they’re still surrendering on small government and limited power.

But wait — it gets worse! Guess which wing of the party is driving those numbers?

The share of conservative Republicans who say that presidents could deal with problems more effectively if they “didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts” has doubled since March 2018. Today, about half of conservative Republicans (52%) hold this view, compared with 26% a year ago.

Moderate and liberal Republicans’ views on checks on presidential power have not shifted during this period. Currently, 27% of moderates and liberals say presidents would be more effective if they were less concerned about the courts and Congress, while a 68% majority say it would be too risky to give them more power.

Good Lord.  The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake ascribes this to the Trump effect on the Republican Party:

It’s difficult to separate this new poll finding from what has transpired over the entirety of the Trump presidency. Trump has sought to stretch his presidential powers to distances not even broached by Obama — including by using a national emergency declaration to build a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border — and along the way he has run into a series of adverse court decisions. Many of these decisions were momentary and/or came in particularly unfavorable jurisdictions. But the setbacks have also included a number of instances in which the administration simply didn’t make a valid defense of the change, including recently when the Supreme Court’s conservative majority blocked the 2020 Census citizenship question.

When met with such decisions, Trump has often attacked the judges behind them, regularly labeling them “Obama judges” and the like. His comments about judges in 2017 even earned him a rebuke from his then-Supreme Court nominee, Neil M. Gorsuch.

Trump has also been stymied by Congress, even though Republicans controlled it for his first two years. The GOP passed tax cuts but was unable to repeal and replace Obamacare, thanks to defections from its own members, including the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). As with the judges, Trump hasn’t held back in criticizing McCain, even continuing that criticism following McCain’s death.

Against that backdrop, perhaps it’s not surprising that Republicans view Congress and the courts as an impediment to the policy proposals they and Trump want.

Transactionalism is the new animating principle in the GOP, apparently, if transactionalism can even be called a principle. It looks a lot more like tribalism write large than any kind of coherent principle or governing philosophy. People have claimed that “conservatism is dead” since the end of the Ronald Reagan presidency, but it never appeared truly defunct as an organizing principle. Now, maybe we should think about holding the funeral.

The post Pew: Percentage of Republicans supporting a strong executive who can ignore Congress and judiciary tripled in past three years appeared first on Hot Air.

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Johnson recognises the importance of instinct and feeling in the Brexit argument

The Sunday Times said yesterday that though “many thought this would be a leap too far”, Boris Johnson “is starting to look prime ministerial”.

Many people will disagree. But it is noticeable how anxious his critics are to pin labels on him – racist, right-wing, posh – in order to place him in some unacceptable moral category, and condemn him without going to the trouble of listening to what he says.

This urge to reach a definitive view, which excludes other views, is an impediment to understanding what he is actually like.

In his acceptance speech, after it was announced that he had defeated Jeremy Hunt, Johnson sketched his approach to politics:

“I would just point out to you that nobody, no one person, no one party has a monopoly of wisdom, but if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party’s existence, you will see it is we Conservatives that have had the best insights, I think, into human nature, and the best insights in how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.”

Here is a politics which acknowledges emotion, “the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart”, rather than establishing an intellectual orthodoxy before which all else, including human nature, must yield.

To those who crave certainty, this is unsatisfactory. But we have recently been presented with too many certainties. The whole referendum debate was conducted by each side as if it was in possession of the exclusive truth, which demonstrated that its opponents were so many fools or liars.

Here is how Johnson’s acceptance speech continued:

“And time and again, it is to us that the people of this country have turned to get that balance right, between the instincts to own your own house, to earn and spend your own money, to look after your own family. Good instincts, proper instincts, noble instincts. And the equally noble instinct to share and to give everyone a fair chance in life.  To look after the poorest and the neediest, and to build a great society.

“And on the whole, in the last 200 years, it is we Conservatives who have understood best how to encourage those instincts to work together in harmony, to promote the good of the whole country.

“And today, at this pivotal moment in our history, we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble sets of instincts, between the deep desire for friendship and free trade and mutual support in security and defence between Britain and our European partners, and the simultaneous desire, equally deep and heartfelt, for democratic self-government in this country.”

Noble sets of instincts have to be reconciled with each other. We have argued for generations about Europe, and will go on arguing, because each side has a strong case.

The present Prime Minister will try to reconcile those cases, not achieve a knock-out victory for one or the other.

It is true that achievement of the October 31st deadline will be presented as a crushing victory, and failure to achieve it will be treated as a humiliating defeat.

The conventions of our adversarial system of politics will be respected.

But if we wish to understand what is at stake in this battle, or the mentality of our new prime minister, or his hopes of unifying the nation after Brexit, those conventions are pitifully inadequate.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

We Need to Iron Out the Relationship Between Conservatives and the Transgender Community

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The transgender community and many on the right often have a relationship that I can describe as vehemently oppositional if I’m putting it lightly. The two have never mixed well for various reasons. If you were to look back over my own writing history, you would see that I’m generally on the front lines when it comes to battling transgender activism.

Except for yesterday.

Yesterday, I was covering the case of trans activist Jessica Yaniv through several articles. To refresh or catch you up, Yaniv is a man identifying as a woman who uses his status as a protected class in Canada to file lawsuits against innocent women for not touching his junk during waxings.

(Read: “The West Is On The Cusp Of Seeing State-Sanctioned Sexual Assaults Thanks To Transgender Activism“)

Looking into Yaniv’s past also shows predatory and pedophilic behavior. Some of the things this guy has allegedly said in text messages are disturbing. This has caught the eye of many a commentator, including trans activist Blaire White, who falls to the right politically despite being transgender.

White, a biological man who has had chemical and surgical procedures to look and sound just like a woman, released a video discussing Yaniv and just how messed up of a person he is. White made many a good point, and I decided to cover the video, highlighting the things White pointed out. I found it an interesting take given the fact that White is trans and has insight most of us don’t.

(Read: “Video: Conservative Trans Woman Blaire White Makes Very Interesting Points About “Trans” Activist Jessica Yaniv“)

And then all hell broke loose.

Many conservatives didn’t like the fact that I was referring to White as a woman and that I was caving to some sort of politically correct feel-goodery. They also didn’t like that I was referring to her as a conservative. In fact, my article got the attention of Right Scoop and The Blaze’s Steve Deace, who proceeded to send out multiple tweets about the way I described White.

I’ve got some things to say about this.

Deace’s tweets come off as unnecessary gatekeeping, and I disagree with him vehemently. I’ll toss out the fact that conservatives “lose to the Left every time on every front” because looking around, I’m not seeing that at all. We lose a few battles here and there, but the right has never been more strong than it is now. Even with our disadvantages in tech and the arts, conservatism has never been more understood or accepted, at least in my lifetime. I’m not sure where he got that.

My problem is that Deace decided that White doesn’t qualify as a conservative because White is transgendered, and apparently, inviting someone like White into the fold will collapse conservatism. I find this a bit odd seeing as how LGBT members have been a part of the Conservative movement for some time now, and we’ve yet to devolve into gross displays of homo-eroticism at our events or make homosexuality a central issue. We haven’t seen any attempts at a conservative drag queen story hour either. In fact, many of the LGBT members within the movement are highly respected individuals who contribute quite a bit to the cause.

Deace and other conservatives not accepting White as a conservative because of the transgender factor doesn’t make White any less of a conservative.

From what I understand, conservatism is about the keeping of ideas behind the founding of America. That all men were created equal, and we all respect the right to and pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. It was my understanding that conservatives held the position that any person could come here and live freely however they want to so long as they don’t force their fellow countrymen to obey their whims and wishes.

From what I’ve seen so far, White keeps to these ideals but can’t join our club because of the trans factor? Why? The whole reason the trans community and conservatives are constantly at odds is due to the fact that they continuously try to force their beliefs on us.

White has made it clear in videos that biological sex is a reality and criticized those who react overtly to being “misgendered.” White, unlike many trans activists I’ve spoken about in the past, doesn’t attempt to force anything on anyone and can shrug off disagreement with a live and let live attitude.

To me, that seems far more conservative than what I’ve seen from the gatekeepers trying to keep White out. I’m not seeing any loss of soul for recognizing and respecting that.

Then there’s the main issue, and this part’s a personal opinion of mine.

I have no problem acknowledging that a transgender person is biologically the sex they were born as while showing that person personal respect by calling them the gender they want if I feel they deserve it. White, in my opinion, is someone that I haven’t had a reason to dislike, and in fact, have generated respect for. Because of this, I have no problem referring to White as female despite the fact that “she” is biologically a he. We might not agree on everything, but oh well.

You’ll notice in my article about White’s video that I refer to White as a “she” but to Yaniv as a “he.” This is because Yaniv hasn’t earned my respect and I have no compunction to label him as the gender he says he is. My default position is that you’re the sex you were born as, but I’m not bothered by calling you something different if that’s what you prefer and your character makes me want to treat you that way.

My approach to transgenderism is realistic but fair as I describe in this video.

As a Christian libertarian-minded individual I disagree with the LGBT community about what it considers good, but I’m not his or her boss. People are going to make decisions about their life and all I can do is offer my advice and care. What they do with it is their decision.

I have no problem chatting about my stances and how my Christian beliefs play a part in various lifestyles, but at the end of the day, I gain nothing by turning my nose up at people. I was, after all, called to love, not to dictate.

The LGBT community runs afoul of me when they try to force Christian churches to marry them or Christian businesses to cater to their LGBT specific needs. Thing is, while the right was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, it is not a Christians only club. It’s also not a straights only club. It’s the “big tent.” Everyone is welcome so long as you don’t deviate from the principles of liberty we hold dear.

It’s not my job to tell others what they can and can’t believe, only what they can and can’t do and only when what they’re doing twists my arm or takes money out of my wallet without asking.

White and other trans individuals who believe and follow conservative principles are conservatives. You can disagree with that fact, but just like biological sex, denying doesn’t make it any less of a reality.

The post We Need to Iron Out the Relationship Between Conservatives and the Transgender Community appeared first on RedState.

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Adam Honeysett-Watts: After three years of gloom under May, it’s time for fun with Johnson

Adam Honeysett-Watts is Director of Conservatives in Communications and works in the financial technology sector. 

Before this leadership election got underway, I wrote that the next leader must be able to tell the Tory story – of aspiration and opportunity – and identified Boris Johnson as the person best-positioned to do that.

Having previously supported David Cameron and then Theresa May, I like to think I back winners – at least, in terms of those who reach the top. That said, while the former will be remembered for rescuing the economy – while giving people the power to marry who they love and an overdue say on Europe – the latter, much to my disappointment, has no real legacy. Johnson should avoid repeating that mistake.

His final column for the Daily Telegraph, ‘Britain must fire-up its sense of mission’, was jam-packed with the kind of Merry England* (or Merry UK) optimism that we experienced during the Cricket World Cup and that the whole country needs right now: “They went to the Moon 50 years ago. Surely today we can solve the logistical issues of the Irish border”. Quite right.

You’ve guessed it, I’m chuffed that Conservative MPs, media and members supported Johnson’s bid to become our Prime Minister. I’m looking forward to May handing him the keys to Number Ten and him batting for us after three, long years of doom and gloom. Sure, optimism isn’t everything – but it can set the tone. A detailed vision must be articulated and executed by a sound team.

Whichever side you were on before the referendum (or are on now), in the short term, we need to redefine our purpose, move forward with our global partners, unite the UK – and defeat Corbynism.

Mid-term, we should invest further in our national security and technology, improving education and life chances and encouraging greater participation in culture and sport, as well as boosting home ownership. Plus the odd tax cut here and there would be well-advised.

However, we must not put off having debates – for fear of offending – about controlling immigration and legalising drugs, and about funding for health and social care, as well as protecting the environment, for these issues matter and will matter even more in the future.

We should also avoid the temptation to ban political expression, alternative media and sugary foods, and celebrate instead free speech, press freedom and the right to choose.

Again, I look forward to Johnson peddling optimism and hope that people get behind him, because, ultimately, he will write our next chapter – and if we jump onboard and provide support, much more can be achieved by us all working together.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

May’s premiership. How a loner leader met an isolated end.

Few politicians are introverts – let alone senior ones; let alone Prime Ministers.  But such is the disposition of Theresa May – or at least, if not precisely an introvert, she is unusually at ease with silence, as a mass of accounts of dealing with her can verify.  This sense of solitude, modulated by a happy marriage, almost defines her.  Who can pin down what has shaped it?  But part of the answer must surely lies in her upbringing as an only child, with a clergyman father driven by an persistent sense of public service.

But despite this clear-cut character, there have been not so much one, but three Theresa Mays, as far as her political career has been concerned.  The first was a cautious moderniser: an industrious, capable woman on the Conservative benches at a time when these were rarer than they are now.  Given the lack of competition, and her own clear sense of duty, she rose fast – becoming the Tory Chairman who warned Party members that theirs was seen as “the Nasty Party”.

The second May saw her find an adviser and gain a department.  The former was Nick Timothy, whose Conservative profile was unusual and distinctive – left-leaning on the economy, right-looking on social policy (when it comes to immigration control, anyway).  The latter was the Home Office, whose culture of command, wariness and control reinforced her own instincts and tendencies.  She began to make leadership pitches, the first to a conference held by this site, with a distinctly interventionist flavour.

In the aftermath of the EU referendum, she become literally the last woman standing, after the withdrawal from a 2016 leadership contest of Andrea Leadsom.  To many Party members, she looked more than capable of resolving its post-plebiscite tensions.  She had been a Remainer, but had deliberately distanched herself from George Osborne’s “Project Fear”.  Her Home Office record was mixed, but she had fought the former Chancellor, and others, over migration control.  She seemed to offer grown-up government after a decade or so of Blair-light spin.

This site was enthusastic about the possibilities a May premiership offered and, at first, our optimism was more than justified, as she announced a Brexit commitment to take Britain out of the EU’s insitutions altogether – the most natural way of intepreting the referendum result.  Then came the 2017 election gamble and Timothy’s manifesto over-reach.  May’s majority vanished. So did Timothy.  Enter her third and final manifestion.  During it, the social conservatism, such as it was, seemed to vanish, leaving a Government leaning left both socially and econimally.

The Conservative Party is still picking up the pieces, as this leadership election has demonstrated – dispossessed as the party is of the economic thinking that ran through Thatcherism all the way to “austerity”.  But it was on EU policy that May Mark Three – in so many ways a reversion to type – became most manifest.  In retrospect, it is evident that she was hostile to No Deal; even at the time, it was clear that she was incapable or unwilling of seeing Brexit as an opportunity rather than a problem; and the Timothy-era clarity of purpose was replaced by the splitting of differences.

May’s supporters claim that she had no choice but to do so, given the depth of division within the Party over alignment and diversion, and deal or no deal (if necessary).  There is force in the argument, but also strength in the counter-case – principally, that her Government treated Ireland with a chacteristically English complacency; failed to spot the constitutional and political traps in the original backstop, and would have stood a good chance, had it not folded early on the proposal and fought instead for a compromise, of getting a deal through Parliament.

Instead, May gradually ceded ground to the point where she lost the trust of both sides of her Parliamentay Party simultaneously – on transition migration, transition extension, a regulatory border in the Irish Sea, even on the Customs Union, at least as far as the revised, all-UK backstop was concerned.  And as the referendum receded over time, the Remain-sympathetic Commons grew bolder – with the Grieve-Cooper-Letwin push for indicative votes and extension.  The more centralised her decision-making became, the less control over events she actually had.

Perhaps we all eventually turn into caricatures of ourselves.  As time went on, she certainly appeared to.  That childhood-learned sense of duty seemed to narrow to a resolve to cling on in office; the commitment to others, learned early in thse country vicarages, to a conviction that the country needed her.  The game was clearly up by mid-March, when MPs crushed the Withdrawal Agreement for the second time and a vote on extension was announced.   The Conservatives’ poll ratings began to fold that week.  These have not reached 40 per cent since.

If you promise over 100 times that Britain will leave the EU on March 29, and it doesn’t; then say that you are not prepared to delay Brexit later than the end of June, but do; announce that it would be “unacceptable” for European elections to take place, but they happen; and if you denounce Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to the country, but then seek to work with him over Brexit, you will poison the well not only for yourself, but also for your party.  Conservative MPs opted for Boris Johnson for simple, sole reason that they think he has the best chance of cleansing the waters.

May joined the Conservative Party as a teenager.  She married it, so to speak: Philip May was also a young Conservative activist, and could well have become an MP himself.  There is a terrible irony in this long-time Party member, a former Tory councillor who is “one of us”, having presided over an attempt to work with a hard-left Marxist.  You may say that she had no choice, given what the “Spartans” did to her deal, third time round.  And that she could not have ultimately have prevented extension, at least if her government was not to fall.

To which the response must be: if that last claim is true – and we suspect it is – she should have quit mid-March, telling the voters that, since the Commons was thwarting her Brexit promises, she would go.  Yet she hung on – though doing so didn’t save her in the end, as was evident at the time.  Perhaps the best explanation is that she really was set on staying in Downing Street longer than Gordon Brown.  Or, more straightforwardly, that it is a rare Prime Minister who leaves voluntarily – only Harold Wilson in modern times, and he was ill.

Having been so enthusiastic about May during the Timothy era, we would like something to salvage from the wreckage.  There are floating chunks of woodwork – the small business rates cut; parental bereavement leave; the push against modern slavery.  But the loss of even a small majority left her Ministers all at sea.  And the centrepiece of May’s legacy bid is an emissions commitment that won her pleasing headlines, but leaves her successors a delivery headache.  The loner has ended all but isolated, and maybe the key to the second is in the first.

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Tom Tugendhat: The last two men left standing in this contest must resist the temptation to slug it out

Tom Tugendhat is Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

In a contest which has been framed around personality, it is striking how many ideas have been generated by the Conservative leadership contest.  Each of the ten candidates original candidates had something to say. Each has championed a new vision of Britain, and each has given Conservatives plenty to think about.

It’s also showcased some good news about how the Conservative Party is changing. Which other party in any other country could boast a contest that included a television presenter, two newspaper columnists, an entrepreneur, an old-school adventurer, a second generation Muslim immigrant, or the son of a Jewish refugee? Not as tokens, but each arguing on merit their own cause as an advocate of an idea.

I backed Michael Gove’s determination to do everything he can to strengthen our United Kingdom and make this country a cleaner, greener place to live. But there are parts from other campaigns that were inspiring. I love Esther McVey’s promoting of Blue Collar Conservatism that has underpinned the Conservative movement for generations and Dominic Raab’s focus on home-ownership and cutting taxes for the lowest-paid.

Andrea Leadsom’s defence of EU citizens who live in the UK and the need to give them (my wife included) certainty about their future status is a proposal I completely back and Matt Hancock’s continued emphasis on mastering cutting-edge digital technologies as the key to our country’s future prosperity is one I have been pushing for since I discovered that parts of Kent are less well connected than Kabul or Khartoum.

At a time when faith in politicians is waning, Rory Stewart showed us just how we can rebuild trust not only through outreach but by talking about the real issues that change people’s lives.

And Boris Johnson? What isn’t there to say about him? He has picked up school places and tech infrastructure, taxes and the living wage and, closest to my heart in our in a time of educational separation – apprenticeships. That, along with his ability to animate the faithful make his contribution so powerful.

But he’s not alone. No one could be unmoved by Sajid Javid’s back story and determination. His pledge to recruit 20,000 more police is a welcome return to the values many expect of us – protecting those most in need. And as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve long admired Jeremy Hunt’s ability to master the widest of briefs and understand the details that drive change in our world. His commitment to fund our armed forces and diplomacy properly is also hugely welcome.

The range of these ideas gives me great hope for the future. Partly because they confound the lazy allegation that we have run out of them. Partly because none of them need be mutually exclusive. And partly because Brexit is the biggest shift in UK policy in generations with massive implications for everything from the NHS to housing policy: there is a massive opportunity for creative thinking.

While there is no shortage of ideas, there has been a shortage of leadership. We need a Prime Minister now who will take us through Brexit and confront the challenges beyond. The 2016 referendum, and the three years since our vote to leave, have revealed many profound political problems – common to many other countries – that we now have both an opportunity and a duty to address.

The poorest have felt the impact of the financial crisis hardest, while the benefits of our economic growth have been imperceptible to too many: especially those who do not live or work in our big cities. We have to build beautiful new housing that reflects the way we live today. We need to ensure that our education system is focused on endowing our young people with the skills that translate into career security in a world which has already been transformed by internet connectivity and will be further by automation and AI. Finally, everything we do must be sustainable. The policies we pursue today must not imperil our children’s future.

The temptation for the last two men left standing in this contest will be to slug it out. There is a real danger that the race becomes acrimonious and divisive.  We are at our best as a country when we are unified. I know from my time chairing the committee that has scrutinised both Foreign Secretaries that each man is above this.

Let us spend the next week scrutinising these two potential leaders. Then let’s unite behind whoever wins to deliver Brexit and a compelling vision of the future for this great country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mark Harper: If the Conservative Party is not the party of sound money, then what on earth are we for?

Mark Harper is a former Chief Whip, and is MP for the Forest of Dean.

Recently, I made my first ‘appearance’ on BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers, where they said that the only interesting thing about me was being a Chartered Accountant.  Now, this may not make me Box Office – but at least I know how to balance the books.

As the Conservative leadership race has gone on, both candidates have increased the amount of taxpayers’ money they have spent. Between them, adding up estimates by the independent and respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the two remaining candidates have already clocked up tax and spending promises of around £51 billion per year.

The recent BBC documentary series on Margaret Thatcher reminded me of a fundamental truth that she talked about at the 1983 Conservative Party Conference: ‘If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. It is no good thinking that someone else will pay—that “someone else” is you. There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money’.

And that truth is one of the reasons why I’m a Conservative. If the Conservative Party is not the Party of sound money, then what on earth are we for?

What do I mean by sound money?  There are two effective checks on state spending: it’s Government committing to live within its means, and ensuring people keep more of their own money.

In other words, reducing debt as a share of the economy, and reducing the tax burden.

Living within your means is clearly something that Labour doesn’t believe in – you only have to look at their policies. Take John McDonnell’s plan to nationalise the water industry in England for instance; according to the Social Market Foundation, that could cost as much as £90 billion and add five per cent to the national debt.  Lots of cost with no benefit to consumers or citizens.

When we came to power in 2010, taking over from Labour, the Government was borrowing £1 in every £4 we spent.  The budget deficit was just under ten per cent of the size of the economy, at £150 billion a year.  We had to make difficult decisions to get the public finances back under control and Labour opposed us every step of the way.

Despite Labour’s opposition, we have reduced the cash deficit to £42.9 billion—down by over 70 per cent —and the deficit as a proportion of the size of the economy is down by 75 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

We should remember, and stick to, our 2015 and 2017 Manifesto commitments to reduce national debt as a share of GDP.

The tax burden is at a 50 year high.  That’s not a comfortable place for a Conservative Government to be. As Conservatives, we want to reduce the tax burden over time to allow hard working people to keep more of their own money. Recent polling by the Onward think tank showed that the majority of people, both young and old, want to keep more of the money they earn.

We do not help people with the cost of living by putting their taxes up. Our focus should be on reducing taxes for lower and middle income earners. We should always remember that the purpose of taxes is only to raise what is necessary to pay for public services and things which only the state can do, such as defence and security.

As Conservatives, we should also recognise that there is a difference between rates of tax and how much revenue is raised from them.  Conservative chancellors from Nigel Lawson to George Osborne have recognised that cutting tax rates, reducing allowances and simplifying the tax system can lead to collecting more tax revenue. Lawson did this with income tax, Osborne with corporation tax.

There are always many pressures on public spending. We need to invest in social care, our schools and colleges, policing and the NHS.  One of the biggest challenges facing the new Prime Minister will be their approach to public spending and the need to set priorities.

A good policy to follow would be to go back to the pre-financial crash Conservative policy to share the proceeds of growth between tax cuts, spending increases and reducing debt. Each year we should look at the growth and tax forecasts made independently by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and the pressures on public services to reach a balanced approach.

These decisions need to be taken in a careful, thoughtful way using methods which already exist like a Comprehensive Spending Review and the annual Budget. The Government has already announced a Comprehensive Spending Review which will set out spending plans for the next few years, until just beyond the next General Election. It’s going to require some very tough decisions, to be made by the new Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It is perfectly reasonable for leadership candidates to set out their preferred direction of travel in specific areas of tax and spending, but the scale of those commitments should be determined by the new Prime Minister and Cabinet in a proper, balanced process.

The new Conservative Leader and Prime Minister has three tasks – deliver Brexit, govern as a Conservative, and beat Labour at the next general election. Key to defeating the Labour Party will be to win the argument on the economy. And winning the argument on the economy means winning the argument for lower taxes, for sensible levels of public spending (which involves making tough choices) and for reducing the burden of national debt.

As this leadership race comes to an end, we should not lose sight of the real finishing line – the next general election. We need to ensure that we finish this leadership contest in a better position to win it.

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Benedict Rogers: Character, values and dignity. Why I am voting for Hunt.

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

As a former journalist, a human rights campaigner and a Christian, there are obvious reasons why I like Jeremy Hunt. As Foreign Secretary he has done more in a year than any of his predecessors combined to champion human rights – and in particular press freedom and freedom of religion or belief, two foundational freedoms that underpin any civilized democratic society.

Hunt has also done more to speak out against crimes against humanity in Burma, for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and peace in Yemen than his predecessors. His decision not just to mandate the Bishop of Truro to conduct an inquiry into the persecution of Christians but to write, every day throughout Lent, to a persecuted Christian, speaks volumes about his values.

So too did his decision, on his first visit to Beijing, to meet the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers. And his statements on Hong Kong, a city I lived in for the first five years of my working life and to which I was denied entry on the orders of Beijing 18 months ago, have been far more robust than his predecessors. Has he done enough? No, of course not: no activist would say enough had been done. But has he shone, as a Foreign Secretary who prioritises human rights? Definitely.

But of course, one doesn’t vote solely on these issues. The challenges facing our party and our country are wide-ranging. Brexit is the most immediate and most obvious. But there are pressures on our public services, threats to our security, challenges to our economy and questions about our standing in the world. And the answer to all of these major questions is clear: Hunt.

Of the original 11 candidates, there were only ever four whom I seriously considered – Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt. Rarely have I had such a difficult choice. Rarely have I been such a floating voter.

I didn’t declare my support until last Thursday, when Javid was knocked out, for the simple reason that whichever one of my four favourites made it into the final two would have won my support. It was only when Javid was eliminated that I decided, when it came down to the final three, to declare my support for Hunt. Once I made the decision, the reasons crystalised. It comes down to three factors: character, values and dignity.

I have not really met Hunt. The only time we have encountered each other was just before Christmas last year. To my surprise, I received an invitation to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss the persecution of Christians – prior to his announcement of a review. Around the table were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Catholic bishop representing Cardinal Nichols, the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos, the chief executives of three charities, and survivors of persecution.

I was impressed by Hunt’s personal engagement with the issue. It was obvious by the fact that he allowed people to speak for far longer than they should have done, and asked insightful questions, that he really cared.

While we had never met before, when he called me to speak he addressed me by my first name, and as he left he said: “It’s great to finally meet you.” There’s no reason, in the great scheme of things, why he should know who I am, but he did and that shows an impressive mastery of detail and personal focus.

I first became aware of Hunt about 13 years ago. A colleague of mine was his constituent. My colleague is a living saint – the epitome of charity, compassion, justice and Christian faith. But he is definitely not a Tory – he is firmly on the Left. Yet he told me early on that he had become a fan of his local MP – Hunt – who, he said, was remarkably responsive, compassionate and interested in human rights. My colleague then brought a Burmese friend, the daughter of a political prisoner, to see Hunt.

I am inspired by Hunt’s emphasis on turbo-charging the economy, deploying his experience as an entrepreneur to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world’s most dynamic economy. A man who has made millions from a successful business, and known the hard grind of business failure, is more likely to be able to take us forward as a global enterprise than one who has never run anything except some precarious newspaper columns.

One handicap sometimes held up is Hunt’s conflict with doctors. But if you look at his record as Health Secretary in full, it is this: he stood up to vested interests, expanded NHS delivery, won battles for further funding and championed the NHS – all qualities we want in a Prime Minister.

Brexit must be delivered, and made not just to work but to succeed. For that to happen all of us, whatever side we were on three years ago, must come together. That means we don’t need a ‘Brexiteer’ leader, we need a unifier, a leader who is not marked by labels but by their ability to implement the referendum result. We need a skilled and experienced negotiator. That man is Hunt.

If Britain is to walk tall in the world post-Brexit, it needs a leader respected by his counterparts as a statesman, taken seriously and not regarded as a subject of mirth. And we need a man who is internationalist and outward-looking. Hunt is clearly that man. Just read his speech on building an “invisible chain” of democracies.

My mother used to live in Japan, and speaks Japanese. When I showed her the video of Mr Hunt delivering a speech in fluent Japanese with no notes she was impressed. To have a Prime Minister who can speak several languages fluently walking the world stage would help turbo-charge Global Britain.

I joined the Conservative Party at the precocious age of 13. In 2005, I stood for Parliament. I have been a Conservative for over 30 years, and I retain hope. In times of victory and wilderness, I have never doubted the Conservative dream and Conservative values. In ups and downs, in government and opposition, I have stuck with three things I hold dear: a Great Britain, a Global Britain and a compassionate conservatism. It is clear to me that it is Hunt who will deliver all three.

I have always championed the underdog – minorities in Burma and Indonesia, prisoners in North Korea, dissidents in China and Hong Kong. So once again, I am with the underdog, and I believe he can win. As the American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side … Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.”

Join me in backing Jeremy Hunt.

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ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists”

Each week on Friday, ConservativeHome’s panel of John O’Sullivan, Rachel Wolf, Trevor Phillips, Tim Montgomerie and Marcus Roberts will be analysing and assessing what’s happening in the leadership election.

John O’Sullivan

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-07-27-at-08.30.25-298x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “The appropriate response to these candidates is Ray Clooney’s: “Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”

My main impression of the Conservative leadership race so far is of a repertory theatre that has advertised the wrong play: a small audience has turned up for a serious drama but a very large cast of actors is performing a light farce.

The sheer number of candidates, most of whom have not held high office, suggests irrelevance and frivolity. Many of them seem to be auditioning for the leading role some years hence, but the crisis of the Tories is so grave that any such calculation looks today like a forlorn hope. So why are they cluttering up the stage, bumping into the furniture, and stepping on each other’s lines? And who on earth wrote those lines?

“Not on my watch, President Trump!” – Matt Hancock. “We are the party of deals rather than no deals” –  Rory Stewart. Neither sounds exactly convincing. These and other boasts have a tinny fake-heroic sound. To which the appropriate response is Ray Cooney’s classic Whitehall farce line: “Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”

Arrests have now been made. The men in grey suits have changed the rules so that a candidate now needs eight – eight! – supporting MPs to mount a challenge. Messrs Hancock and Stewart can probably manage that. Others – not necessarily the worst – have taken the hint and withdrawn gracefully. Some seriousness has been injected.

But the survivors still have trouble finding the words.

That’s understandable on Brexit where, as the guardian of this site has painfully explained, the Tory party has to untangle its own Rubiks Cube: the Tories cannot win a general election without delivering Brexit but they cannot deliver Brexit without winning an election.

I’m not sure that the first half of that conundrum is correct. Last summer, the Tory Whips managed to cobble together a majority against all others, including the ultra-Remain Tories, when it mattered. That’s why, among other consequences, Anna Soubry is now a party leader. And since all parties fear an election, why should we think that even ultra-Remainer Tories will happily lose their seats rather than tolerate a No Deal Brexit?

If Boris Johnson must explain how he will be able to deliver Brexit against a hostile Commons majority, therefore, surely Michael Gove must explain how he will unify the Conservative party on a program of delivering an amended version of the May deal that most Tory MPs and three-quarters of the Party’s activists have already resoundingly rejected.

Not to mention the third dilemma that facing all Tories, candidates or not. If the Tories don’t deliver Brexit soon – and Michael Gove’s pragmatic postponement reeks of indefinite Micawberism – do they really believe that their former voters now streaming to the Brexit party will simply shrug and conclude “Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time”? Or will their hatred grow with every passing excuse?

Think of these different dilemmas as Rubik’s Cubed.

Brexit is not the only important issue, of course. When I hear Messrs Hancock and Stewart display their ideological wares, I think kindly: “These may well be the winning issues in the 2035 election.” To be fair, however, none of the candidates seem to be asking: “Are we doing anything for our people now? The self-employed? Home-owners? Small landlords? Small businessmen? The elderly?”

I fear that when we approach them today, they look at us apprehensively as their patients might have looked at Doctors Harold Shipman and Bodkins Adams as they bore down on them smiling a bedside smile and wielding a calming syringe.

John O’Sullivan is a former head of Margaret Thatcher’s Number 10 Policy Unit, and is New Republic’s Editor at Large

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Rachel Wolf

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-03-08-at-18.02.41-300x278 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “Pledging more money for education isn’t enough. What do the candidates want to do with it?”

In my recent column on this site putting 20 questions to the potential leaders, I listed common spending demands and asked which, if any, candidates would prioritise.

We have at least one answer – schools. Candidates have been falling over each other to pledge more money. Credit for this should go to the NUT, who have run an extremely effective campaign in the last few years.

What does their choice tell us? First, the incentive to appear fiscally prudent is largely gone. Candidates are increasing public spending, cutting taxes or both. (Although Esther McVey did say she’d pay for it with the aid budget: an intelligent dividing line!)

Second, that while candidates must win among MPs and Conservative members, they recognise they must persuade both groups that they can win with the public. School spending is welcomed to both former Brexit-supporting Tories and defectors to the Liberal Democrats. It allows candidates to say something positive without choosing the electoral coalition they are pursuing (at least for a little longer).

What does it not tell us? Anything about their approach to education or government.

Money is an input, not an outcome. It is easy to spend – doing something useful with it is much harder. And to achieve the latter, you need clear aims. After all real terms, schools spending has gone up enormously in the last few decades. Do we believe that quality has gone up at the same speed?

The vast majority of school spending goes into wages. Giving more money to teachers can help recruit and keep staff (and maybe increase the chances they’ll vote for you) but it doesn’t necessarily translate to children learning more in a classroom.

This, then, is a policy that conceals as much as it reveals. There are some questions that would say much more about what the candidates really believe. How about grammar schools (and, connected, are we most concerned with finding the brightest and doing the best by them, or reducing the gap between all rich and poor?) Do you think extra money in the education system should go into early years, the main school system, or to technical and higher education? If we want to listen to the teaching unions – which Esther McVey suggested – are we also going to listen to them on academies and move back towards council control?

In other words – what do you think should be done with the money and to what end?

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership, and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

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Trevor Phillips

Westlake Legal Group Trevor-Phillips-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “The task for the next Conservative leader is to fashion a party that provides a home for “decent populists”

If you are a Conservative MP, the questions that you might ask yourself about the contenders for the leadership of your party are: “do they have a vision, the skill to bring us together – and can they beat Jeremy Corbyn?”. Given that almost anyone should be able to accomplish the latter, Tories should be focusing on the first two. On this week’s evidence, they seem oddly preoccupied by the third and least important qualification. That’s perhaps why the only proven vote-winner, Boris Johnson, has emerged as the early front-runner.

By contrast, Dominic Raab, perhaps the man with the clearest “vision” – Britain as a sort of Singapore-on-Thames – ends the week looking like a busted flush. The safe pairs of hands, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, are puffing in Johnson’s wake. We have yet to see if the remodelled Michael Gove, now studiously hiding the light of his his megawatt brain under a bushel, can locate the charm button every leader needs.

As a longtime Labour party member, I’d prefer us to face a stone-cold loser – since we need the Tories to be led by people even less competent and, if this can be imagined, more dislikeable, than the group around Corbyn.

However, given that most of the British people are unlikely to want an anti-semite and his apologists in Downing Street, there must be a case for patriots of every political stamp wanting the winner of this contest to be capable of responding to the extraordinary political times. And that will require levels of political imagination unseen since Thatcher or Blair.

It is increasingly clear that the most significant social divisions in most Western societies today run along identity faultlines. I do not mean by this that the contest should be reduced to some absurd virtue-signalling “Be-Kind-To-Blacks-Women-and-LGBT” competition. The new politics of identity are more subtle. Research shows that our new divisions are more accurately gauged by attitudes to social liberalism – multiculturalism, feminism, for example – than voters’ stance on economic issues. A typical test of tribal affinity might be whether you want to tackle environmental change through muscular state action or through a combination of market incentives and subtle behavioural nudges.

In Donald Trump, the populists have found one template. He has refashioned the Republicans to be an unashamedly white nationalist outfit; to be precise, this is not the same as saying that the party is “racist”, merely that it consciously represents an ethnic interest. Other populists are steadily building tribes that overlap with elements of both the traditional Right and Left families. On the European continent, the absolutists in politics – Marxists, ultra nationalists, eco-warriors and separatists – thrive outside the framework of traditional heterodox national parties. In some they even find a place as junior partners in government – a fantasy entertained, for example, by the SNP.

Happily in the UK, the notion of an ethnic party is unthinkable; I am happy to have played a part in extinguishing the only such organisation of any significance, the BNP. Moreover our electoral system provides just one path to political power: through big major parties which are themselves coalitions.

So the task for the next Conservative leader is to fashion a party that provides a home for what my Policy Exchange colleague David Goodhart calls the “decent populists” – a coalition of people who, when faced by globalisation are more likely to see loss than opportunity. They include those who still see virtue in longstanding traditions and institutions, those who long to live lives anchored in places they recognise from their childhoods, and those who aspire to steady, unflashy professiona or craft occupations with decent rewards for hard work.

In Brexit terms, this looks to me like a coalition of reasoned leavers and lukewarm remainers who understand that other Conservatives may perfectly reasonably have made a different judgement from them about the EU. From where I stand just two candidates seem to be equipped to craft such a coalition: Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. As often happens in such situations one has the intellect and imagination, the other the guile and charisma. I am just grateful the Conservatives have not yet found a candidate with both sets of qualities.

Trevor Phillips is a writer, broadcaster and businessman. He is the Chair of Green Park Executive Recruitment and of Index On Censorship, and a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange. He was President of the John Lewis Partnership Council between 2015-18.

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Tim Montgomerie

Westlake Legal Group Tim-Montgomerie-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “This race won’t be all ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit’ – and mustn’t be.”

“Boris Johnson couldn’t get past MPs’” was the prevailing wisdom in the Westminster village for a long time. It doesn’t look that wise or likely to prevail anymore. Johnspn now has more support than any other contender for Theresa May’s job. With the backing of 48 MPs, he has more parliamentary backing than Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart combined. Betfair reports that more than half of the money received from punters on the Conservative leadership race has been staked on The Blond One wearing the Tory crown rather than his trademark bicycle helmet by the July 22nd.

I predict that at least one other piece of conventional wisdom will also be overturned in the weeks ahead. This race won’t be all ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit’ – and mustn’t be. I predict we’ll also see fierce but healthy competition to be the One Nation candidate.

And I mean the Benjamin Disraeli unifying One Nationism rather than Ted Heath’s Made in Brussels version. The duty of the party to reach out to northern, working class and ethnic minority Britons – and all those other communities who have felt alienated from ‘the party of the south and the better off’ is true big tent conservatism.

Ideas of the kind launched this week – such as Rory Stewart’s housebuilding programme or Sajid Javid’s great infrastructure fund – aren’t just morally right but politically essential too. Donald Trump’s 2016 victories in American rust belt states and, much more recently, Scott Morrison’s triumph in less affluent corners of Queensland are proof that a great switcheroo is underway. Richer voters are moving left and poorer voters are moving right. Which candidate can build upon the inroads into once infertile northern, industrial and coastland territories that the EU referendum has begun to feed and water for a Conservative Party that delivers Brexit?

This question will be particularly relevant in the final round, when grassroots members will be in the decision seat. Unlike incumbent Tory MPs, I reckon that the party rank-and-file will be more open to the necessity of policy changes that may risk some Remain-dominated Tory-held seats being replaced by a much bigger number of Leave-majority Labour held seats entering the blue column.

It’s not, after all, just ideology or not wanting an IRA sympathiser for leader that differentiates Tory from Labour members. It’s a hunger for power. The same desire to win that led party members choose David Cameron over David Davis in 2005 will favour the candidate who can most successfully combine big Brexit and big tent Conservatism.

Tim Montgomerie is the founder of ConservativeHome

Marcus Roberts

Westlake Legal Group Marcus-Roberts-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “Voters also consider Johnson the most electable Conservative candidate with Javid trailing a full twenty points behind.”

Should the self-described “most sophisticated electorate in the world” wish to use data to help inform their decision – and what might they learn from it?

Boris Johnson is the clear member’s favourite on the key performance indicators of strong leader, likability and electability.

Johnson leads all comers on leadership (69 per cent say he would be a strong leader), likability (77 per cent say he is likeable) and electablity (70 per cent say he most likely to win a general election).

Furthermore, Conservative Party members say that Johnson shares their political outlook (69 per cent) and is up to the job (67 per cent).

By comparison, Dominic Raab is the member’s second choice on strong leader (47 per cent) and electability (42 per cent) whilst Sajid Javid is the runner up for likeability (53 per cent).

But amongst the general public, Johnson proves himself a marmite candidate – since, of the main Tory leadership hopefuls, he gets both the highest rating for good prime minister (26 per cent) and the highest rating for bad Prime Minister (55 per cent).

General election voters also consider Johnson the most electable Conservative candidate (37 per cent) with Javid trailing a full twenty points behind (17 per cent). Amongst Conservative 2017 voters this rises still higher, with 56 per cent viewing Johnson as the most electable with Michael Gove in second place on 22 per cent.

On handling Brexit, Johnson again polarises the public at large. If we discount the low name recognition candidates, Johnson is considered to likely do both the best and worst job handling Brexit with 23% thinking he would do a good job and 43% thinking he would do a bad job. Amongst Conservative 2017 voters there is no such doubt however with 44% thinking he would do a good job and 29% saying he would do a bad job.

On likability, the general public has a pretty negative view of the whole of the Conservative field with 58 per cent of voters saying Michael Gove does not have a likeable personality, with 46 per cent for Jeremy Hunt and 40 per cent for Boris Johnson.

Finally, in terms of who could unite or divide the country, Johnson once again achieves both. Eighteen per cent say Johnson could unite Britain whilst 48 per cent of the general public say he would divide Britain. Both these numbers are greater than any other candidate.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov’s –

Marcus Roberts is Director of International Projects at YouGov.

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Nick Hargrave: Modernisers may not trust Johnson, but they should learn from him

Nick Hargrave is a former Downing Street special adviser, where he worked under both David Cameron and Theresa May. He now works at Portland, the communications consultancy.

It is the columnist’s duty to try and tell the reader things they don’t already know. So I hope I am not falling short in my fortnightly insight if I say that Boris Johnson is the current favourite to be the next leader of the Conservative Party.

There are a number of reasons why this is true. Not least his pitch on Brexit; the most simple on the surface being if a Withdrawal Agreement has not been concluded by the time the starting gun is fired.

But the overriding reason is that he is popular with the Conservative grassroots. And they are the ones who will have the final say in a leadership election. So if Johnson can vault the hurdle of getting into the final two amongst MPs – which is not yet certain and his biggest stumbling block – then he stands a good chance of success.

Johnson is unlikely to be getting my vote if he makes it to the final two. For all his charismatic qualities, I question whether he is the national electoral asset of old. Research suggests that his role at the head of the Leave campaign and his positioning since have left him badly placed to win voters under 50 back to the Conservative cause. Although some might argue that Theresa May is too detail-driven in her decision making, I fear that Johnson at the helm of the ship would be an unwise overcorrection.  And there’s also the not insubstantial fact that his Brexit platform risks a No Deal general election by accident – in which I think a lot of Tory MPs would lose their seats and Jeremy Corbyn would end up in Downing Street.

Nonetheless, one should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. For all his deficiencies, it is important to recognise that Johnson remains an extraordinarily good communicator with the Conservative base.

Other candidates in the leadership contest of a more centrist and modernising bent – who will argue our party needs to put Brexit behind us and reach out to people we’ve lost- would do well to probe into why he does this so effectively. Do this, and they will be in better stead to take him on.

It is a lazy supposition that Johnson’s equity with the grassroots comes solely from his support for full-fat Brexit. It’s part of the equation but there’s more to it. Tory members are not stupid. They know that he was a late convert to leaving the European Union and, many suspect, for politically expedient reasons. I suspect in their heart of hearts they know the same holds for why he resigned from the Government after Chequers. However, despite all this, there is still something perceptible that strikes a chord with the rank and file and always has.

It comes down to three things.

First, Johnson is proud of Conservative values and is prepared to talk about them in positive terms. Reading his columns and speeches, while the views on policy may flip-flop all over the place, you do get a sense of someone who is at least unashamed of being a Tory: possessed of a boundless belief in the inherent capability of the human spirit, an understanding of the limitations of the bureaucrat’s pen – all wrapped up in a love of our nation, its institutions and its history.

The centrists and modernisers of 2019 should take heed. It is not possible to change a political party by junking its central values and beliefs. If you want to do that, then you should start a new party. Modernisers only succeed by establishing shared values with the party’s core – and then demonstrating to the faithful that they have the ability to communicate these values to new audiences in a way relevant for the time. So talk by all means about raising living standards and making the economy fairer for younger generations; but make sure you do it through the prism of backing entrepreneurship, promoting healthy competition and rewarding work. Do make the case for greater investment in our public services after a decade of spending restraint but never lose sight of the fact that Conservatives don’t throw good money after bad and we judge public spending by the value it delivers for hardworking taxpayers. You get the drift.

Second, Johnson is an optimist. There’s a lot of commentary and analysis out there from the current leadership cohort about how bad things are for the country as well as the existential crisis our party faces. This is all true and a little bit of introspection during a leadership contest is fine. But leave the bulk of it to the commentariat. Existing activists have dedicated significant portions of their lives to the service of the party. They want you to reassure them that it’s going to be ok in the end and a better future lies around the corner. This is only credible if it’s backed up with a plan and policies – where I think Johnson can be beaten – but optimism itself is infectious.

Third, Johnson can speak and Johnson can write. There was a time when more politicians were able to do that; words in their trade are deeds. Many Conservative activists know it and remember it. A lot of his best work is his own and not produced by others. He has some world-class strategists around him who try and keep him on the straight and narrow. But he is the progenitor of his own vision (you could argue the progenitor of many different visions at different stages of his career). There is something in that nonetheless for those who aspire to lead.

Johnson’s weakness has always been whether there is enough substance behind the curtain. Under the heat of a full-blown leadership election, there is an opportunity for an opponent of substance to put him under pressure on the issues; including what his position on a no-deal Brexit really means. But respect his potency with our most loyal customers. He knows that you don’t get to enact a vision for the country until you can thread it first with the fabric of your party. Once you understand that, you have a better chance of laying a finger on him in what may shortly follow.

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