There has bee a lot of focus on the ‘One Nation’ dimension of Boris Johnson’s agenda – but less on what the Prime Minister intends to do for the Conservatives’ traditional base.
Defusing the European question holds out the possibility of winning back many of those Tory voters whom the Party alienated over Brexit. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Conservative coalition is still based on its traditional foundations in southern England, and Johnson’s own seat ought to make him particularly attentive to the Party’s increasingly parlous position in well-to-do London suburbs.
His headline offer to this group during the leadership election was a controversial pledge to raise the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000 per year. Not much has been heard about it since – but we thought we’d ask the members their view.
Just over one third report that they disagreed with the initial promise and support the Prime Minister’s apparent reluctance to return to the subject. This is consistent with the share of enthusiastic support we found for ‘One Nation’ in a previous question, which is again about what Jeremy Hunt won in the leadership election.
The other two-thirds – presumably those who expressed more reservations about the change in direction – support the proposed tax cut and think the Prime Minister ought to honour it.
Doubtless pressing ahead with a tax cut for the better-off would be controversial. But even setting aside the question of whether leadership election promises ought to count for anything, recent experience ought to have taught that bold efforts to reach out to new voters must be accompanied by attentive care of your base. Otherwise it could be the Tories, a decade or two hence, watching another party rampage through their heartlands.