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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "David Goodhart"

Scruton and the Conservatives. “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country.”

A popular image of a philosopher is a solitary man in an ivory tower hunched up in the pose of Rodin’s thinker.  Were it true, Roger Scruton would not have been a philosopher – titan polymath that he was: academic, barrister, rider to hounds, farmer, novelist, composer of operas, pianist, wine critic, and much else…including, of course, philosopher.  And journalist.

For Scruton had an activist temperament, of which we offer two examples, drawn from our own experience.  The first involves this site.  In 2013, he set up a new section within it called “Thinker’s Corner“.  The aim was to provide a platform for Tory intellectuals and an opportunity for new writers.  It failed comprehensively.  This was as much the fault of the Editor as that of Scruton, if not much more so.

The second was a reworking of an older idea.   Scruton was one of the original founders of the Conservative Philosophy Group, one of the symptoms of the Thatcher revival of the 1970s and 1980s.  He revived is more recently.  If his aim was to recreate that ethos, he did not succeed.  It was not well attended by Tory MPs.  One might conclude that Scruton was ineffective as an actor rather than a thinker.  This would be mistaken.

For his energy got results in what was Czechoslovakia, where he set up an underground university to offer education from those expelled from the state system – and more broadly to teach them in the western tradition.  Thirty years on from the Velvet Revolution, he was awarded the country’s highest civilian honour.  This work was heroic.

ConservativeHome wrote that Scruton deserved a peerage (though we also said later that “doubtless he would not accept one unless it were hereditary”).  We were delighted when he was knighted, describing the honour as “a knighthood for the movement”.  This was an attempt to capture his sense of commitment.  Which brings us to the Conservative Party and Scruton himself.

He never quite gave up on it – treating it with the derisive affection that one reserves for some impossibly errant relative.  Like this site, he was supportive of it while also remaining independent, recognising that for all its faults the only practicable vehicle for the realisation of conservative ideas is the Conservative Party.  His interest was not reciprocated.

This leads us to ask why it has engaged so little, over so many years, in the small but lively domestic network of Conservative intellectuals.  Margaret Thatcher was the exception that proves the rule.  It is impossible to imagine John Major turning up to one of the meetings of the original Conservative Philosophy Group.  We can only think of one Tory leader who would have done so with enthusiasm: Iain Duncan Smith.

One answer to the question is that the Conservatives remain, over 40 years on from the Thatcher experiment, “the Stupid Party” at heart – suspicious of ideas and those familiar with them.  (Even when those concerned are reacting against bad ones, which was part of what Scruton did.)  Those intellectuals with whom it comes to terms must be functioning politicians, such as David Willetts, Oliver Letwin, Jesse Norman, Chris Skidmore and Danny Kruger.

Another is that to the Cameron leadership – the most successful electorally since Thatcher’s, at least until Boris Johnson came along – Scruton was an embarrassment, with his commitment to fox hunting, opposition to multiculturalism as Editor of the Salisbury Review, hostility to same-sex marriage (later rescinded) and general dispostion to take ideas seriously.

That knighthood took a very long time to come.  At least two Cabinet Ministers claim credit for it, and it may be worth adding that Michael Gove has said that Green Philosophy, Scruton’s magnificently balanced book about ecology and the environment, helped to inspire his work at Defra.  He is a bit of an exception to the rule that we are writing about.

At any rate, Scruton had come in from the cold by the time of his knighthood – having been appointed to an advisory post on housing.  The Cameron Government had come round to recognising his value.  Our readers will be familiar with what happened next.  Scruton was fired as Chairman of the Government’s “Building Better, Building Beautiful” Commission after a New Statesman interview before eventually being reinstated.

We thought that he had shown a lack of comradely discipline by giving the interview at all (though noting from the start that his words had been twisted).  The Commission has published an interim report.  Its final one will be part of Scruton’s legacy.  Its purpose is “to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places, across the country and help ensure as we build for the future, we do so with popular consent”.

ConservativeHome looks forward to the publication of the final report.  And to the Johnson leadership engaging more actively with Tory intellectuals than its predecessors have done.  Whether it will do so or not is open to question.  Johnson has an interest in ideas – consider The Dream of Rome – but dislikes being bound by them: he sees politics as a practical business.  Dominic Cummings has ideas of his own.

We close by looking back on that list of names we suggested for peerages in 2015: Eamonn Butler, Paul Johnson, Ruth Lea and Charles Moore, as well as Scruton himself.  Others whose talents might be utilised by this new Government include: Noel Malcolm, Sheila Lawlor, Michael Clarke, Philippa Stroud, Niall Ferguson, Patrick Minford, Andrew Roberts, David Goodhart, Richard Ekins.

There is also a fledgling network of Conservative academics – the furthering of which has been slowed by the recent chaos at the top of the Party.  Scruton would have approved.  He would also have known that it wasn’t the Tory Party alone that under-recognised what he had to offer.  It is safe to say that his views been less blue, and less colourfully expressed, his academic career would have been more successful.

Then again, there was a part of Scruton that seemed to relish confrontation.  His fighting spirit was very like his father’s – a lifelong socialist of a very English kind still remembered, in High Wycombe where Scruton himself was raised, for helping to save the Rye, a park near the centre of the town, from development during the 1960s.  Jack Scruton was agent for a petition of protest presented to a joint committee of the Commons and Lords.

Roger Scruton himself, though a practising Anglican, may not have been a Christian – not throughout his adult life as Conservative, at any rate.  But he would ruefully have recognised the force of the verse: “a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” – even if that prophet dies, as in his case, not without honours.  We mourn his passing.

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

Ryan Shorthouse: Brexit is seeing struggle enough. Communitarians and libertarians don’t have to be in conflict.

Ryan Shorthouse is the Founder and Chief Executive of Bright Blue.

After Brexit – and trust me, that glorious day must one day come – the Centre-Right will face another blistering battle. Between two camps fighting for their philosophy to be prevalent in the Conservative Party’s domestic policymaking and public offer: freedom-fighting liberals versus socially-conscious communitarians.

This tension has been simmering for some time, especially since the 1990s when Conservative politicians and thinkers sought to challenge the caricature of Thatcherism, which had been adopted by opponents, even members, of the Conservative Party: of excessive individualism, of just leaving people and businesses to get on with it. They instead championed a civic conservatism, which DavId Cameron rebranded ‘the Big Society’, that sought to emphasise and nurture what lay between the individual and the state: family, charity, community.

The Cameron years managed to unite both camps. Deep fiscal retrenchment, necessitated by the financial crash of the late noughties, saw a shrinking of the state that appealed to the libertarians. But there was cuddlier conservatism too: think same-sex marriage, the increase in the minimum wage, the sugar tax, and the Troubled Families programme.

Then Theresa May ended the truce, foolishly and unnecessarily picking a fight with both libertarians and liberals within the centre-right movement. Right at the start of her 2017 general election manifesto, she declared: “We must reject the ideological templates by…the libertarian right and embrace the mainstream view that recognises the good that government can do.”

This was a political mistake. Instead of uniting the Right against a straightforwardly socialist threat, she and her coterie indulged in the stuff of student seminars and sought to settle scores. It’s too early to tell which direction Boris Johnson will head on domestic policymaking. He’s keen on a quirky but vague philosophy of ‘boosterism’. And he’s surrounded himself – both around the Cabinet table and in Number 10 – with folks in both camps.

He’d be wise to not pick sides, but instead draw on both traditions. Not just for political reasons, but philosophical ones too. The ideas of liberals and communitarians are not necessarily conflicting – in fact, they can be complementary.

Communitarians will often criticise modern liberalism for going too far, of prizing geographic and social mobility that has wrenched people from family and community life, which is good for their wellbeing. This is a peculiar argument. If people have been pushed into a life that is miserable, then it cannot really be said that they are free. It seems nonsensical to me to suggest that liberalism – a philosophy with individual decision-making at its heart – can force people into a way of living.

A lot of this is lifecycle stuff, to be honest. As people become older, settle down and have kids, familial and civic life understandably matters more. But when you do grow up, there’s no need to be so guilty about your carefree, hedonistic youth. And suddenly sermonising to twentysomethings about their supposed narcissism makes you not only a tad hypocritical, but a needless killjoy.

Young people who leave the place they grew up in to chase their dreams and some fun, typically in London, should not be made to feel they have abandoned their families or communities. Such an argument, which has become increasingly commonplace, is rooted in envy. It is judgementalism fuelled by stereotypes not facts. It echoes what used to be said, sometimes still is sadly, about mothers who go back to work. Just because you’re ambitious professionally, doesn’t mean you don’t talk to and support your family and friends, even when they’re miles away. There are enough hours in the day to do both. In fact, there’s lots of evidence showing people in the UK today are managing to work more and spend more time with their families in a typical day than previous decades.

This notion that there is a whole class of people – university-educated professionals living in big cities – that have no time for civil life and are rootless ‘anywheres’, as the thinker David Goodhart puts it, is baloney. Communitarians are right: nearly all of us are social animals, craving connections and community. But people should have the freedom to find communities they’d like to join – which match their interests and outlook – rather than having to settle for only what they were born into. And if communities are to survive and thrive, they need to be inviting of people from different backgrounds. These are foundational principles for a modern, ethnical and popular philosophy: liberal communitarianism.

The Conservative Party should stand for both the liberal stress on independence and the communitarian emphasis on interdependence. They need each other. The goals of liberalism—individual flourishing, power and respect—can only emerge through the support and guidance of others. Conversely, the interdependency communitarians care about most can only truly be realised if we respect the liberal insight that all and different individuals are equally worthy.

A One Nation party needs to represent people all of ages, from young adults who want the freedom to spread their wings to those who seek stronger roots when they get older.

This article is taken from the autumn edition of Centre Write, Bright Blue’s Magazine.

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

Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change.

Lord Green is Chairman of MigrationWatch UK and a cross-bench peer.

The Conservative Party is clearly struggling after disastrous results in the European elections and the Peterborough by-election. So it is astonishing that we are now well into a leadership contest with barely a peep from the candidates on an issue that is crucial to our country’s future and therefore of real importance to the membership. I refer, of course, to immigration.

The political, economic and foreign policy crises that are encompassed by Brexit have rightly been at the top of the agenda. But there is a serious risk that a crucial long term problem will be ducked or, worse still, exacerbated. In ten years time, Brexit will be sorted one way or the other. But, if we are not careful we might find ourselves set on an immigration policy that will change the whole nature of our society against the wishes of a strong majority of our people.

In short, our country has reached a crossroads on immigration, and so has the Conservative Party. The current massive levels of immigration could be reduced without serious damage to our economy, were there sufficient political will. The forthcoming leadership election will therefore be the moment to decide whether to go for a leader who is prepared to tackle immigration or for one who has failed to heed the public’s repeated calls to reduce it.

The situation is certainly serious. Annual net migration into the UK has averaged nearly 300,000 over the past five years – that is roughly the population of Newcastle. Yet, until Labour came to power in 1997, net migration was never more than 50,000 a year and was sometimes negative. Since 2010, nine years of Conservative Government have failed to get a grip on it, as the graph below clearly indicates.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-10-at-22.39.02 Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change. Tom Smail Prospect Population policy Policy Exchange Peterborough by-election Peterborough Louise Casey immigration European Elections 2019 David Goodhart Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment  The implications and consequences for our future are stark. A level of net migration continuing at present levels would take our population from about 66 million today to 100 million by the end of the century. Yet, as the graph below illustrates, achieving the Conservatives’ promise of reducing net migration to 100,000 a year would restrain the increase in our population to between 70 and 75 million.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-10-at-22.39.16 Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change. Tom Smail Prospect Population policy Policy Exchange Peterborough by-election Peterborough Louise Casey immigration European Elections 2019 David Goodhart Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment  As I have already suggested, the character and nature of our society are already being changed without the consent of the majority of our population, three quarters of whom support the reduction of net migration levels to the ‘tens of thousands’.

It is not just about numbers. I was struck by a recent article in Prospect  by Tom Smail. He lives in Haringey in North London, and he wrote: “Immigration has become not, as I once thought, a welcome addition to the English way of life, but a source of disquiet.” He continued “I speak four languages …. but the multiplicity of languages outside my front door and the almost total absence of English leaves me feeling like a stranger in a once familiar land”.

He explained later that “it is not that I prefer English people to other people. Frequently I do not. It is that, in order to have a functioning, cohesive society, there needs to be some shared sense of what that society is.”

There is indeed evidence that mass immigration is damaging the bonds that bind our community together. Demos found in 2018 that 71 per cent of Britons believe that immigration has made communities more divided. This reached 78 per cent in areas that had experienced large-scale immigration in recent years.

Of course scale matters. In the words of Policy Exchange’s David Goodhart: “Too many people coming too quickly into a society makes it difficult to retain a sense of cohesion and stability.” In a similar vein the former integration czar, Louise Casey, has warned that we risk sleep-walking into an increasingly segregated country.

It would be absurd to blame individual migrants for these difficulties. The problem is one of scale. That is a problem for the government, and it has been ducked for too long.

Some of the loudest voices in favour of the status quo are those who have, since free movement applied to Eastern European countries in 2004, been able to acquire the skilled workers they need for lower wages and without paying the costs of training British workers. Their financial interest is clear, but it is by no means clear that there is overall benefit to our society as a whole.  There is no persuasive evidence for the UK that immigration has increased GDP per head. On the contrary, it has been roughly flat for the last ten years despite massive levels of immigration.

So the question for Conservatives comes down to this. Is there a leadership candidate who will have the courage and determination to tackle this matter which is so vital to the future of our country? I will explore this question further in a second article on Thursday.

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

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

– – –

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.

– – –

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.

– – –

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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