This article was first published in Reaction
Once again the electorate is looking to a Conservative prime minister to lead revolutionary change.
Britain is continuing with its quiet but profound revolution. In France and the United States voters have humiliated the established political parties and turned to leaders from outside of the mainstream. In Britain we are doing the exact opposite. It is to the oldest political party in the world, the Conservative party, that the British electorate is about to place its trust in once more.
Whether it is Disraeli and Lord Randolph Churchill extending the franchise and the appeal of the party, or “Rab” Butler and his education vision, or Margaret Thatcher and her reforms, it is the Conservative party that has most often, and most surprisingly, led and propelled change in British politics.
Brexit has done much more than simply removed us from membership of the European Union. That vote has unleashed an energy and a sense of national purpose that we have not witnessed for a long time. This sense of national purpose has identified in Theresa May a person with whom the nation can identify and trust, and its energy is propelling her to victory. Her personal poll ratings far outstrip her party’s. Her support runs across England, Scotland and Wales in a way that we have not seen in a generation.
This election there is not much interest on the doorstep in manifestos, economic news, or the usual stuff of elections. For once the normal rules seem suspended. This election season people are focussing on values and direction over economics and services. This is highly unusual and will not last long. The normal rules of politics may have been suspended, but they have not been abolished. It gives the prime minister enough room to be able to fashion a future for Britain – not so much a vision, but a clear plan for a direction of travel behind which we can all come together.
A sense of a government working with you, not against you; a sense of having a better opportunity to get on and up; a sense of greater fairness; a sense of this is our community and our society; a sense of shared direction. A nation drawn together rather than driven apart. These are not small hopes and ambitions. They are set against the backdrop of the Brexit process.
Underlying all of this is the fundamental change in our country that Brexit will bring about. So far this change is most obvious in our politics, but it is going to require more, much more, of every single person, institution and organisation – to be more energetic, innovative, entrepreneurial. We have voted for massive political change but it will profoundly affect our culture, our business, and every artistic, voluntary, creative and industrial area of all our lives. Whilst we can take nothing for granted, it is reassuring (and very British) that to oversee this great revolution we will soon see in No. 10 a Conservative prime minister, leading a Conservative government.