Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Moderates Must Fight, Fight and Fight Again; Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Moderates Must Fight, Fight and Fight Again; Established 1827

Article excerpt

"COMPLAINING isn't a strategy," Amazon's Jeff Bezos likes to say to rival companies facing bankruptcy from the internet insurgency he leads. What is true for business holds for politics. There are many people complaining about Jeremy Corbyn's trip to Glastonbury -- from Tories whingeing about the BBC coverage to the disdain of Labour moderates for its middle-class Bolshevism. As if either would turn down the opportunity to address tens of thousands of adoring fans, if only they could find them. Both need to stop complaining and start counteracting.

Although it may not feel like it, the Tories face the easier task. Yes, the election left the party listing and leaderless. In public, Tory MPs profess loyalty to Mrs May; in private, their only conversation is who will replace her. The fact that today Westminster waits on the DUP's Arlene Foster is a foretaste of what life without a majority looks like. Conservative politics is going to be dominated by the who, where and when of this political psychodrama. But the party would do well to consider also the "what".

What is the purpose of Conservatism? If it is only Brexit for Brexit's sake, then the crushing experience of tough EU negotiations will make the country weary of Tory zealotry. If their economic policy amounts to ditching fiscal prudence and attacking business, and their social mission is measured only by the size of state spending, people might well ask: why not have Corbyn, and get the real thing? It is fashionable to say the Conservatives lost seats because Mr Corbyn got the young to vote. The polling analysis tells the truth: the Tories went backwards not only with the young but the middle-aged too; graduates deserted them as well as students; support among ethnic minorities fell; and the party of the "just about managing" found that a majority of working people voted Labour.

Here in London, a few years ago Labour led the Conservatives by just two per cent; today they lead by 26 per cent. …

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