The phrase is Tim Montgomerie’s. He used to deploy it roughly as follows. Yes, politics means making choices. But they doesn’t always have to be either/or. The Conservatives can have immigration control and international development. Green growth and more fracking. Same-sex marriage and transferable tax allowances.
The new majority Tory Government won’t necessarily smile on these examples. But it will want to follow the principle. To this end, ConservativeHome is reviving The Politics Of And. In one series, we will examine Securing the Majority. In another, Growing the Majority. Boris Johnson will want to do both.
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The Conservative Party has been under pressure from the Right as well as the Left – these terms are crude but efficient – since at least the days of the Coalition and the rise of UKIP. There is no instrinsic reason why this should change.
Growing the Majority thus requires reaching out in both directions, which leads one swiftly to the linked-but-separate questions of what Boris Johnson should do about Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.
The former’s sense of the national interest and his own pulled in different directions during the general election. Hence the decision not to stand Brexit Party candidates in Conservative-held seats, including Tory-held marginals…but not Labour-held marginals. Farage was unable to finish what he started.
We recognise that these were tough decisions for him and, regardless of whether he wants one or not, believe that it would be absurd to deny him an honour. His contribution to Brexit has been incontrovertible.
It is not absurd to wonder if he would be willing to act as an adviser on some aspect of Brexit. Though that might depend on what he intends to with the Brexit Party (which is still very much his creation). It took roughly two per cent of the vote last week.
There are as many different types of Brexit Party voter as there are those who back any other party, but we might have a stab at identifying three.
The first are those who believed that the Conservatives won’t deliver Brexit. The second are those who think that any form of Brexit that the Tories deliver won’t be worth having anyway. A third of those in traditional Labour seats who just wouldn’t vote Labour but couldn’t bring themselves to vote Conservative.
Boris Johnson can make a start with the first group by ensuring that Brexit happens on time, and with the third by delivering what he’s promised to deliver.
Farage knows his base so the Brexit Party’s Contract with the Voters is worth studying. There is some overlap – for example, on the BBC licence fee and combatting electoral fraud (about which we write elsewhere today). The Prime Minister will also need to deliver on crime, immigration and the NHS.
The Tory hope will be that once a former Labour voter has broken his habit of voting for the party he will continue t look elsewhere. And that the Brexit Party will act as a kind of gateway drug to voting Conservative.