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The Tories are ‘the party of England’, says Guardian columnist

14 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read

The Tories are “the party of England”, according to a Guardian columnist.

John Harris suggested that in Wales, England, and Scotland, “class politics” has faded away to be replaced with a “national” kind.

Ina column for the London-based publication he also claimed in Wales that Labour has a “talent for speaking in a gently nationalistic voice” that has “ensured that its place at the heart of politics has always been secure.”

Harris said while Labour “dominate all of the big English cities” in the rest of the country “enduring Tory themes as law and order and patriotism, and the party’s apparent embodiment of optimism and opportunity, seem to have fused with Brexit to make the Conservatives even more immovable”.

The columnist also suggested there will be “the constant rumbling of what some people will see as a very English culture war” which will include a fixation on “anything deemed ‘woke’, and regular shrieks from MPs and ministers about statues, street names and ‘heritage’”.

He said: “If traditional class politics has finally faded away, what has replaced it? In England, Scotland and Wales, could it be the rise of specifically national politics based around one dominant party that embodies enough of a sense of optimism and collective identity to set the agenda, while its adversaries fight over whatever is left?

“That seems to be the case in Scotland – where, though there may be signs that the toxic feud between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond is slightly weakening the SNP’s grip on politics, its dominant position is hardly under threat.”

‘Nationalistic voice’ 

He added: “In Wales, though the Labour party is not in nearly as strong a position, its foundations in that country’s most populous areas and its talent for speaking in a gently nationalistic voice have ensured that its place at the heart of politics has always been secure.

“Which leaves England. Labour may still dominate all of the big English cities, but across the rest of the country such enduring Tory themes as law and order and patriotism, and the party’s apparent embodiment of optimism and opportunity, seem to have fused with Brexit to make the Conservatives even more immovable.

“The party has won more English votes than Labour in every general election since 2005. In 2019, its vote share in England was 47.2%.

“From UK-wide statistics, we also know that Labour was backed by 30.6% of low-income voters, but 45.4% supported the Tories.

“Over the next few years, I do not think the Conservatives will spend much time defining themselves against Keir Starmer and his colleagues: there is, after all, not much definition there. Instead, there will be the constant rumbling of what some people will see as a very English culture war.

“Some of it will be shrill: those new TV channels fixating on anything deemed ‘woke’, and regular shrieks from MPs and ministers about statues, street names and ‘heritage’. This stuff, it seems to me, speaks to a small minority of the public.

“But there is another aspect of how the right characterises its adversaries that is proving more effective: the idea that the left is now privileged, cold, snobbish and judgmental, and far too keen on seeing whole swaths of the electorate as bigoted and stupid, whereas Boris Johnson leads a party that thinks the best of them.”

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