Warmest wishes to the founder of ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie, in his new role as Boris Johnson’s social justice adviser. He is completing his first week in the post. Tim is working out of the Cabinet Office, and reporting both to the Prime Minister and to Sajid Javid.
In one sense, this is the culmination of a life’s work. Isaiah Berlin once wrote that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Most of us are foxes, but Tim is a hedgehog: he knows one big thing. You might call it social justice conservatism. You might call it “strong and compassionate”, to use one of his own terms. You might say it’s “conservatism for the little guy”, to borrow another. At any rate, you know it when you hear about it.
Tim now hopes that you will soon know it when you see it. He first started bringing it into life when he founded the Conservative Christian fellowship, and this is his first real chance to put it into action from near the centre of government – this Anglicanised Christian Democracy, as his successor thinks of it.
We hope he’s right, although there are at least two major obstacles to putting it into practice: one is very obvious, the other less so. That first is that Johnson and his term could be forced out of Downing Street at almost any time. The second applies if this doesn’t happen. The Prime Minister is assembling a team of many talents in Number Ten, and not all of its members will see eye to eye with others. It isn’t obvious how, say, the new, hard-nosed, Priti Patel-led law and order approach sits naturally with the recent Tory stress on rehabilitation and lower prison numbers.