A letter to Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph
Dear Mr Moore, I hope this reaches you.
I’ve always enjoyed your articles and was particularly pleased recently to discover that your city career started a mere few weeks before mine in 1979, yours in Fleet Street and mine in Carter Lane on the other side of Ludgate Circus, just below St Pauls. Happy days.
My reason for writing is to challenge your assertion that if the Brexit Party does well it will make Brexit less likely. I suggest Nigel has been very smart, and while I’m mad as hell at not having been selected by the political virgins behind the scenes in TBP, and can understand the annoyance of those stood down, I’m also hugely relieved that I won’t be commuting to the city again at 66 years old after 20 years away.
Five factors stand out IMHO.
- Nigel’s given Boris a 317 seat start– and we’ve not seen any such goodwill reciprocated by Boris. Quite the reverse in fact, witness the recent reports of titles being offered, lucrative jobs, in short – bribes (universally rejected) to try to weaken the BP resolve. He is however still challenging Tories and Labour in marginal seats and will undoubtedly take votes from both of them, perhaps even enough to win them. Here, Barrow & Furness, divided in 2017 by a mere 200 votes, the constituency voted nearly 60% out in 2016 and we anticipate that pro-Brexit voters from both sides who value democracy will lend TBP their vote. Changing politics for good indeed.
- Who in their right mind would trust the Tories with Brexit?As a party they have always been thoroughly pro-EU since at least the days of MacMillan in the 1950’s, but they’ve also been very good at hiding it. There have been some notable casualties who fell foul of their pro-EU stance, ruthlessly cast aside when their sentiments clashed importantly enough with the Tory establishment, Enoch Powell for one and the other, the most successful PM they’ve had for decades in Margaret Thatcher. Pro Brexit Tories might want to think about that and the true nature of the party they normally support.
- How many Tory Remainers are standing? We will never know but it will the majority. It is true that some have finally been shamed into standing down, but how many remain? And how many more again are queuing up as pro-Remain PPCs to become their MP replacements? Remember David Cameron’s A List? Put simply, if you wanted to become a Tory PPC 20 years or more ago, you had to be pro EU. You could say what you like outside, tell the punters what they wanted to hear, lie to your heart’s content – but when it matters, if you want to get your nose in the MP’s trough you are 100% pro EU.
As an ex-Tory activist, I gradually became aware of how much central office controlled candidate selections to that effect. We had a situation where after losing the seat (and MP) in 2005 for the first time in 99 years (by about 260 votes), where having subsequently gone through the weary process of selecting a new PPC, for reasons unknown said PPC stood down and when an election was announced shortly afterwards, a central office nominee was parachuted in, and lost the seat by 12,500 votes!! And my support of the Tories ended at the following association post-mortem when we learned that the same thing had happened in 1997 when the previous locally-selected PPC magically disappeared and was replaced by the previous centrally appointed nominee … the same who went on to lose the seat!!
- The Brexit Party will hold Boris’s feet to the fire. If TBP gets enough support to control the balance of power (alongside the DUP who have done a magnificent job of keeping Brexit alive), they will force the Tories to deliver a genuine Brexit, ie. a restoration of full independence for the fifth largest economy in the world. I recall a recent letter from CEOs including Tim Martin saying it’s about time we acted like it. Quite so.
- Vote Tory or get Corbyn. Per-lease – I know we grow cabbages in the country but we’re not that stupid, not any more. If that’s the best they’ve got…..
Very best wishes,
(And by the way, I realise you may be editorially constrained where I, as an ex Conservative activist and then UKIP PPC, running my own business, am not. Says something though about how far things have gone when the MSM is constrained … thought about another book?)