Boris has gone, but his policies remain popular
New research shows that Tory voters want to level up — and soon
In his final PMQs as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson advised his successor to “check the rear view mirror”. Given that he then concluded with the words “Hasta la vista, baby” — the specific threat that he appeared to have in mind is the return of… Boris Johnson: “I’ll be back,” he may as well have said.
Even if he himself recedes into political history, the policy programme of his government is still with us — backed-up by the non-expired mandate of a commanding Commons majority. So whether it’s Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, the next Prime Minister has a manifesto to implement.
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Strange, then, that we’ve heard so little about it during the leadership race. The candidates — and especially the final two — seem more interested in claiming the mantle of Margaret Thatcher than talking about the policies that got them elected in 2019.
But what do Conservative voters — or people who might vote Conservative — think about the main planks of the current government’s agenda? Both Sunak and Truss would be well-advised to study a major Public First poll for the Onward think tank. Here’s a key chart:
As you can see, it shows the level of voter support for keeping various government policies. The grey bars refer to all voters — and the coloured bars to definite (dark blue), wavering (light blue) and possible (red) Conservative voters.
Among those who will, or may, vote Tory, the two most popular policies are “Britain leaving the EU” and the “commitment to level-up growth and opportunity in all parts of the United Kingdom.” Perhaps surprisingly, levelling-up is even more popular than Brexit. Yet while the candidates have been keen to paint themselves in Brexity colours (especially those who voted Remain) they’ve had much less to say about levelling-up. Pressed by debate moderators and interviewers, commitments to this flagship policy have been extracted from both Sunak and Truss — but through gritted teeth it would seem.
The chart also shows strong support for new laws to “protect renters from no fault evictions”. These were introduced by Michael Gove — and are being progressed by his successor at the Department for Levelling Up, Greg Clark. Lord Frost and other Tory Right-wingers who have criticised these reforms might like to note that they’re almost as popular with Conservative voters as they are with the population as a whole.
As for the policy of investing more taxpayers money in research and development, this too gets a thumbs-up, but is even more popular among Tory voters than voters as a whole. So yet another endorsement for a levelling-up type policy.
Both Sunak and Truss need to read the room. Brexit allied to levelling-up is what got the Tories elected in 2019 — and it is their only chance of victory in 2024. If they won’t champion this agenda, then I can I think of someone who might. Honouring a promise would be the perfect excuse for a come-back.
Correction – his slogans remain popular. Policies? He had none; he simply borrowed abundantly if incoherently from our hard left civil service – recently nettled because the Telegraph has found them imposing the doctrine that members of this or that minority should “never be contradicted”. And it is because Johnson was and remains a contemptible weakling; and because he was the last man on earth to take on and tame our hard left civil service that we have endured ruinous lockdowns, dodgy vaccines, net zero, HS2 and raging inflation, not to mention porous borders. We have de facto permanent hard left government across the western world, with elected leaders thrown out by the international bureaucracy on a regular basis, whether by hook of slanted law – Berlusconi – or crook of stuffed ballot boxes. The living emblem of western democracy today is Biden, a senile zombie shaken towards the camera like a species of shrunken head by the witchdoctors of “woke”. And at last, the western world is waking up to its imprisonment.
Did anyone else notice the sly smile on Johnson’s face when he said ‘hasta la vista’? — he knows that whoever is the next PM will inevitably come a cropper and he will be called back.
Some of the policies in the chart seem very narrow in their focus such as “New laws to protect renters..” and “plans to increase corporation tax…”. But “Plans to make the UK a science superpower” is broader. I suppose they would call that aspirational rather than a specific policy. To me “Levelling up” is the vaguest of them all. As Selwyn says, it’s a slogan rather than a policy. It doesn’t mean anything until specific policies are defined to achieve levelling up, whatever it means. Net Zero is the same. Anyone might agree that Net Zero is a “Good Thing” but they may change their minds when the specific policies need to achieve net zero are determined.
Peter Franklin wrote, “Both Sunak and Truss need to read the room. Brexit allied to levelling-up is what got the Tories elected in 2019 — and it is their only chance of victory in 2024. If they won’t champion this agenda, then [Boris Johnson might return]”
Another popular policy is the Rwanda policy, by which illegal aliens are deported to Rwanda. Boris Johnson understood the fate of the United States and wanted to use the Rwanda policy to prevent Great Britain (GB) from descending into the same fate.
By 2040, due to open borders, the United States will cease being a Western country, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, the majority of residents already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.
Johnson with his good political acumen could have remained the leader of GB if it had a presidential system instead of a prime ministership. If GB had remained in the European Union (EU), its rules would have prevented a strong executive branch. Outside the EU, GB could strengthen that branch by replacing the prime minister with a president.
A president Johnson would not have resigned.
The Britons should consider adopting a presidential system. It would facilitate GB’s being a leader of the West as the United States exits Western civilization.
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