By Tim Montgomerie
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In today's Mail on Sunday I described Boris Johnson as "the Heineken Tory" – the Tory that reaches parts of the electorate that other Conservatives struggle to reach. I suggest he has three important qualities:
(1) Boris has never neglected Conservative values: "Some Right-wing Tories like to think that Boris has prospered because of his opposition to the euro, his hawkish approach to crime and his support for lower taxes. These things have indeed been ingredients of his successful political recipe. He has never lost the support of core Tories because he has never forgotten that vital American maxim that you ‘dance with the one that brung you’."
But I then say that "traditional Right-wingery cannot explain the full potency of the Boris brand." I suggest two other important factors that explain why Boris is competitive in a city and against an electoral headwind that would have meant nearly any other Tory was politically dead'n'buried:
(2) Boris is a small-government not an anti-government Conservative: "He wants low taxes but he will also enthusiastically embrace government when appropriate. He has, for example, championed a much higher basic wage for all public-sector workers and believes that extra spending on infrastructure will help lead Britain out of recession."
(3) Boris is also entirely comfortable with modern Britain: "He celebrates the multi-ethnic nature of London. He has embraced the concerns and hopes of the city’s gay community. More profoundly, and in huge contrast to the miserable Mr Livingstone, he exudes optimism. He believes that no problem is too big to overcome. ‘Ever since Hesiod, ever since Isaiah,’ he once wrote, ‘human beings have loved to listen to prophets of doom and they have loved to believe that theirs is a uniquely fallen and selfish generation. I don’t believe it.’ A leader is a dealer in hope, said Napoleon. In these tough times Boris is the politician who provides most hope to London and, increasingly, to the grassroots of the Conservative Party."
There are, of course, still four big days until the polling stations close and no room for any kind of complacency. Go, please, to the Back Boris website to offer a final helping hand.