Possibly. Today, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chancellor announced so many billions – or was it was trillions – of pounds of infrastructure projects that one would have that it was John McDonnell who was delivering the budget. The world has turned on its axis.
Non-Tories haven’t grasped what is going on here. In the pursuit of his legacy, Boris Johnson is gobbling-up the centre of British politics. Such policies are straight out of the Labour textbook. The former Red Wall constituencies are going to love it. Nobody is asking: where is the money tree?
How will the other parties react? Slowly, I imagine.
For non-Tory parties, their potential areas for policy/brand differentiation are:
- Brexit – it will rear its head when the inevitable shock happens of our true departure. It will be an omnishambles, so any party which was anti-Brexit will be regarded as Mystic Meg.
- Social care – which needs fundamental rethink. My view is that families will start to live closer together, with more families sharing large properties. Just watch this develop.
- Constitutional reform – few people – on all sides of the Brexit debacle – believe that our unwritten constitution has worked well over the last few years, and therefore crave voting reform. With their stonking majority, the Tories won’t want to change anything, but they will be on their own.
- Prison – we all know that it rarely works as a deterrent, and mainly serves as a school to produce ever-hardened criminals. A liberal, progressive party can steal a march here. Thanks to the Tories, the justice system is on life support. We are all impacted from high crime levels.
- Public ownership of utilities – still popular most of the electorate, though an anathema to the Tories, even though the Tories have now taken a rail franchise back under public control.
- Environment – as the climate gets crazier, and climate change-deniers dwindle, the climate crisis will become of an election issue. The Tories haven’t taken it seriously: it simply isn’t in their DNA. As we approach the key date of 2030, the environment will come to the fore.
Justifiably, non-Tories will crow that the spending bonanza announced by our school prefect-like Chancellor is akin to Tony Blair’s decimation of Clause Four in the mid-90s – i.e. the true Tory colours will come through in due course, as they did when Corbyn re-took Labour. Let’s not forget that it took two decades for Labour to revert to type. How long will it take the Tories to revert to type? And will they? Will the Tories govern as One Nation Tories?
And what will opposition parties do to differentiate themselves? If the Tory strategy on COV-19 leads to more deaths than in other countries, party politics will not be dead as the Tories will be out of power for a generation.