When Boris Johnson delivered his effervescent encomium to free trade at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich conservatives were ecstatic. At last, they cried, a real Tory prime minister!
Just one week later, a great wailing has gone up from the same quarter. Horror and woe, they lament; we’ve got yet another fake Tory in No 10!
People in the so-called “red wall” constituencies that used to be solidly Labour are down to earth. They are hard-working and thrifty. They greatly dislike money being thrown down the drain.
Red wall people take a dim view of “woke” progressivism and social engineering. They value family, community and nation. It was the onslaught on these values by Labour’s embrace of globalisation and liberalism that drove them to the Tories. They wait for measures from this government to support married parents and stay-at-home mothers. They wait for this government to end the child abuse involved in purportedly changing the sex of “transgender” children, to speak up against victim culture and to restore freedom of speech by getting rid of “hate crime”. They may find they wait in vain.
The paradox is that the future of conservatism lies with working-class people. That means adopting the traditional values in which they believe.
The classless Boris Johnson made it safe for working-class people to reject the Labour Party, which they had come to believe was deeply unpatriotic. If, however, he ignores the truly conservative values of his unexpected constituency, he will find that this newly blued wall promptly turns red again.
To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.