This is the first week of the real Boris Johnson government. So after the tumultuous events of last Thursday, with its placing (and displacing) of personnel, there can be no excuse for evading the substantive question: where is this going? Assuming that we accept the need for a coherent, absolutely consistent message and a united team to present it, a significant confusion still remains.
The larger rhetorical theme is obvious and compelling. Put in idealistic terms, it is about uniting the regions of the nation, bringing the kind of prosperity to the North that has become the common currency of life in the Southeast, levelling up, etc etc. With the emergence of the UK into post-Brexit sovereignty the need is more urgent than ever for the grotesque imbalance between its wildly successful parts and its depressed post-industrial wastelands to be addressed. We all get that. It is morally and practically unassailable.
In more cynical electoral terms, this programme can be seen (as indeed it is often described) as a way of ensuring that all those new Conservative voters in the North do not become disillusioned with the government they elected, and remain Tory supporters for the indefinite future.
Running on the assumption that both of these interpretations are correct, there is a danger that Mr Johnson and his Rasputin of a chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, might be on the verge of making a terrible mistake. Amidst the tide of interpretation of the Sajid Javid farrago there has been a predominant theme: the former Chancellor had been captured by the Treasury orthodoxy on fiscal limits and would not therefore accept the Prime Minister’s lavish spending plans. At least not without contemplating unprecedented new taxes on property and pensions to cover the cost of all that expenditure.
In short, Mr Javid was being sucked into precisely the Treasury-think bear trap that George Osborne fell into with his omnishambles Budget (for mansion tax, read “pasty tax”). Like many chancellors before him, he had gone native at the Treasury. For a government planning radical ventures that would, initially, cost a lot of money, this was simply unacceptable.
If that is the case – that it was Mr Javid’s insistence on maintaining Treasury spending limits that caused the breakdown – then we must assume two things: that huge amounts of money may be about to be thrown indiscriminately at any vaguely Northern-friendly project (like HS2), and that the Johnson team believes the picture of Northern voters that has been painted by the Left. The first of these is just wasteful and pointless, but the second is deeply pernicious and likely to backfire disastrously.
It is absolutely imperative to see that these “new” Tory voters538prom精品视频在线播放 are not really a new phenomenon at all. This is not the first time that the Red Wall has collapsed within living memory. Those working class and lower middle class Northerners who rejected what was supposed to be their unbreakable historic tie with Labour, are the descendants (politically and sometimes literally) of those who supported Margaret Thatcher in the Eighties. And those who came over to Mr Johnson’s version this time did it for remarkably similar reasons to that earlier generation.
They want the same sort of self-determination and opportunity to succeed as those in the booming, overwhelmingly middle class Southeast. They do not want to be patronised and treated like needy losers: they want a chance to get on and make a better life for themselves and their families. Labour lost them because it insisted on casting them as envious class warriors – which they are not.
Remember the magic word of that momentous Thatcher era, “aspiration”, which New Labour had to embrace in order to recover electoral credibility. Throwing money around will not help if it is wasted on vainglorious public projects. What is needed is well developed initiatives that will encourage local entrepreneurs.
This may come as news to the Westminster Tory establishment but the working class supporters they have recruited are actually more outspokenly Rightwing than your average blushing public school Conservative. These people are unencumbered by bourgeois guilt. They are openly scathing about those they regard as “benefit scroungers” and they expect to get out of life pretty much what they put in (which is the common sense definition of “fairness”).
538prom精品视频在线播放In fact, they do not want to punish the better off, they want to join them and they do not want to be clobbered by higher taxes as soon as they do.
538prom精品视频在线播放They are furious because they and their children have been written off, cut out of the national economic success story and left as welfare basket cases. But it is not just the absence of decent transport and public infrastructure that has condemned them to this hopeless condition. It is the huge disparity in educational achievement and, of course, the lack of employment which makes that failure of ambition at school seem understandable.
So here’s one thought: the M4 corridor is Britain’s Silicon Valley. Why shouldn’t it be replicated all over the North where there are so many working class boys who are averse to being bookishly academic but might jump on the IT start-up bandwagon with alacrity? This would require targeted tax breaks and government incentives but probably a lot less actual cash funding than HS2.
In other words, the way to keep the Northern voters – and the sacred promise that was made to them during the election campaign – is not to move to the Left. There are severe limits on how much the public sector can contribute to the regeneration of these depressed regions. If past experience is any indication, much of the cash shovelled into public services is wasted by poor or self-serving management. Investment can help if it creates real jobs – not Potemkin ones in grand government projects.
538prom精品视频在线播放In truth, Northerners are not an alien species at all. In their hopes and in their resentments, they are actually remarkably like everyone else.