The Tories are now the Blairites
Politics never fails to surprise. The centre ground of British politics is now occupied by a party that used to be right wing and the former occupants have decided that being in power is not for them. The Tories are now the Blairites at the very moment that the former PM is despised by his own party. Bizarre is it not?
The Tory Party conference was carefully stage managed. Professional. Smart. Clever. No mistakes. In truth the atmosphere was flat. It is hard to generate real passion when you are trying to sell pragmatism.
The one special moment was the speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. George the Builder is a good narrative and political backdrop for this most political of chancellors. Having won the political argument over welfare, the role of the state and austerity he now wants to do the same on house building and regeneration. Labour strategists are right to fear him.
The greatest disappointment was the anti-immigration speech by the Home Secretary. She simply got it wrong. To be criticised by the IoD and the CBI is a car crash of epic proportions. She simply is no longer a credible leadership contender.
Outside the conference hotel I observed a nastiness about the left that shocked me. I can still remember the miners' strikes and the poll tax riots. They were strolls in the park compared to the mob that abused anybody who wanted to attend the conference. 'Tory Scum' was one of their nicer chants. Many activists were genuinely terrified. The police simply did not do enough to make us feel secure. They must try harder next year.
The PM's speech was well crafted and delivered by a politician who is at the peak of his powers. His One Nation credo will strike a cord with most voters. Compassionate Conservatism is back with a vengeance. The Tories are right to make the case that they want to tackle poverty, eradicate inequality and boost low cost owner occupation. I just wish that the PM believed in market solutions (which work) as opposed to a bigger state (which doesn't work).
The Blairites in the Labour Party now have a dilemma. Do they stay and face years if not decades of opprobrium from the left and hard left who are now in control? Or do they support and perhaps join a party which has turned its back on the ideology and passion of Thatcherism in return for decades of power implementing the Middle Way? I suspect many will just give up but I hope there are some who are brave and join the Tories.
It is perhaps time for Tory radicals to accept rather like aging hippies that times have changed and the golden days are not going to return. For all my misgivings and regret I would much rather have moderate pragmatic Tories in power than a bunch of flat earth Trotskyites. I suspect the British public think the same.
If anything sums up where British politics now is it is the ongoing determination of Jeremy Corbyn to refuse to show any respect to the Queen. I am no monarchist but the Leader of the Opposition must show respect to our constitutional monarch. Many working class voters will never forgive him.
I have stated many times that the PM is a very lucky politician. His challenge over the next few years whilst his luck holds is to change British politics for ever (by moving the centre to the right) and by making the Labour Party an irrelevance.