As Boris Johnson mixes public investment with a culture war, Keir Starmer fails to offer a viable alternative
To be a Tory is to be a shapeshifter. The Conservatives are one of the world’s most successful electoral forces because they are always attempting to strike a balance between the spirit of each age and the interests of the elites they exist to champion.
For the true blue grassroots, this can be discombobulating, aggravating even. At the Tory party conference, some activists muttered to me about the “socialism” of Boris Johnson. Such complaints have a historical pedigree: when the Conservatives resigned themselves to Clement Attlee’s postwar consensus of nationalisation, high taxes and strong trade unions, Margaret Thatcher denounced her party’s acquiescence. She even accused her predecessor, Ted Heath, of having “proposed and almost implemented the most radical form of socialism ever contemplated by an elected British government”.