Austerity, Brexit and 44 days in purgatory: the key stages of the Conservative regime | Conservatives

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The age of austerity: 2010 and beyond

Until the financial crash of 2007/8, Chancellor George Osborne and the Prime Minister David Cameron were “compassionate conservatives”, eager to “share the benefits of growth”. But when the shit hit the fan, it was about balancing the book with cuts to public spending (particularly in social care and local government), bearing a much bigger share of the burden than the tax hikes. taxes.

The anemic economic growth that inevitably followed also translated into stagnating real wages, which only served to persuade people in the less prosperous parts of the country that they had been “left behind” by a liberal elite in London. It was music to the ears of populist politicians like Nigel Faragewhose wickedly successful campaign to link this discontent to voters’ latent Euroscepticism and their overt anxieties about mass migration was gaining serious momentum – aided by the draconian but doomed attempts of the ill-fated Minister of ‘Interior Theresa May to deliver on the government’s unrealizable (and economically absurd) promise to reduce net migration to ‘tens of thousands’.

Yet the Tories have been cunning enough to protect pensioners – their most trusted source of support. The NHS has also survived cuts, if not disastrous reorganisation; but the waiting lists are getting longer and longer.

European referendum: June 2016

Panicked by UKIP’s growing popularity and claiming concern that the government was responsible for eurozone bailouts, Tory MPs pushed Cameron to risk a in-out referendum on the country’s accession to the EU. Worried far too much about avoiding ‘blue on blue’ infighting and far too little about actually losing the vote, Cameron, who had proved unable to persuade his party that he had brought much substance back from Brussels, l blew up.

Many more of his friends and colleagues – including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – came out for Leave than he ever imagined, and Dominic Cummings and his colleagues persuaded them to mount a brutally effective campaign highlighting more money for the NHS and regaining control. of immigration, while Nigel Farage took things to another level with his infamous “Breaking Point” poster.

Jeremy Corbyn (literally) didn’t help much either. Of course neither was the highly partisan (and – in terms of broadcast – predominantly pro-Leave) UK print media, while the determination of public service broadcasters to provide ‘balance’ backfired by awarding so many airtime to outliers than to “experts” dissolved and dismissed by Leave in predictably populist ways.

The resulting coalition of “leftovers” and “comfortable leavers” saw the country vote for withdrawal by 52 votes to 48 in June 2016. Cameron has resigned with immediate effectleaving the country’s economic and diplomatic policy in limbo and his party in a resentful mess.

Theresa May and Hard Brexit: 2016-2019

The Gove-Johnson partnership dissolved days after the Conservative leadership kicked off, forcing the latter out of the race and ensuring the former stood no chance of winning it. Bad blood abounded Therese May – a “reluctant remnant”, widely (even wrongly) considered a “safe pair of hands” – was left as the last candidate standing.

Convinced the referendum was about immigration which she had been unable to control as Home Secretary, and desperate to prove her credentials to Brexiteers wanting to do trade deals with the US and the powers world’s rising stars, May quickly decided that withdrawing from the EU meant leaving both the single market and the customs union, perhaps not fully realizing the complicated consequences for Northern Ireland.

Theresa May failed to persuade her party to vote for her Brexit compromise, losing high profile colleagues including Boris Johnson. Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Caught between her anxieties about it and the relentless pressure to play hardball emanating from ERG Brexiteer ultras who never tired of recalling her statement that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, she n failed to persuade his party to vote for the compromise, losing several senior colleagues, the cheeky ambitious Boris Johnson, chief among them. Public frustration saw Farage’s newly formed Brexit party hand the Tories a devastating defeat in the European elections, by which time May was set to walk out in tears.

Boris Johnson: 2019-2022

Finally realizing his childish dream of becoming “king of the world” (or at least British Prime Minister), Boris Johnson rode a wave of Tory despair straight into Downing Street, where, aided by his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, he set out to get rid of Farage by promising to “deliver Brexit” – “by any means necessary”. After illegally proroguing Parliament, ridding the party of Tory MPs who had thwarted a no-deal Brexit and agreeing to a customs border along the Irish Sea, he brought his ‘cook-ready deal’ to the country and (with a little help from Jeremy Corbyn, as well as supposedly heartfelt promises on public spending), the Conservatives won an “overwhelming” majority of eighty seats.

It quickly became apparent, however, that their populist leader had little interest or talent in actually governing – a reality fatally exposed by his handling of the Covid crisis so badly that the UK found itself with one of the highest death rates of any comparable country. . It was also revealed that N0 10 had organized a myriad of illegal parties during the lockdown. Despite his support for Ukraine, his endless references to the country’s successful ‘vaccine rollout’ and his Cabinet colleagues’ ‘war on revival’, Johnson’s popularity (never as big as his fan club imagined) evaporated, and a toxic combination of scandal, outright incompetence, disastrous by-elections and plummeting polls saw him kicked out of number ten by his own MPs.

Trusonomics: 44 days in purgatory

Rather than moving quickly, the Conservatives, suspicious of what happened when May won the crown untested on the proverbial campaign trail, staged a seemingly endless leadership race. Ironically, however, the widespread animosity felt towards favorite Rishi Sunak for allegedly ‘stabbing Boris in the back’ handed the victory to Liz Truss – a goofy free-market fundamentalist who was more than happy to tell members party everything they wanted to hear, especially about tax cuts.

Many expected her to return to a rather more practical position when she took office, not least because it was apparent that the government was going to have to spend billions to protect the public from rapidly rising oil prices. ‘energy. But Truss, along with his ideological soulmate and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, and acclaimed by Brexiteer ultras and ‘Tufton Street’ think tanks, was determined to seize a unique opportunity to cut taxes and deregulate in the name of ‘ grow, grow, grow’ – to hell with the pundits and ‘treasury orthodoxy’.

Markets retreated and voters watched in awe before rushing to Keir Starmer’s Labor party. Several excruciating media appearances, dismissals and parliamentary mayhem ensued in a short time, and before we knew it, she too was gone – just a bad dream or a nightmare the Tories won’t be able to escape?

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