Make no mistake, the Tory Party is finished and is never coming back.
The Conservatives are already a lame duck in the urban north. The cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield have zero Tory councillors. That’s right, they can’t even win a single ward in these cities, never mind an MP. Much of this is due to the ill will generated in the urban North by the Tories dismantling of the industry there. However, the Conservatives calculated that they could still win elections if they did this, because if they still won the South East, where white collar service industries were important, they could still win General Elections.
However, their base in the South East is crumbling, and if they lose that, they really are left with nothing. One issue that will help destroy the Tories appeal in South East England is the EU’s intrusion into financial services regulation. When George Osborne went to Brussels, he told the Council Britain was unhappy with EU regulation of financial service workers bonuses. He was outvoted 27-1. The City of London is aware of this, and what it may mean for them. Osborne had previously assured them he could defend their interests in Europe. Now that has been shown to be a lie. The significance of this is difficult to overstate.
The financial services industry is the primary source of Conservative Party funding. It is also a significant voter base for the Tories, from hedge fund managers to risk analysts. The hundreds of thousands of people who work directly and indirectly in the City mostly vote Tory. Will they continue to do so if the Tories continue to demonstrate they cannot defend their interests, as the 27-1 defeat so comically illustrated? The Tories lost the urban North a generation ago, but if they lose the Home Counties where the financial services workers live, they will have nothing left. To lose their main funding source and a large chunk of their voters will be devastating.
The Scottish referendum result will further bury the Conservatives. In the aftermath of the result to stay in, Cameron gushed that Scotland would be given even more special treatment and funding. This will aggravate all English people’s resentment at the unfair Burnett formula. But the irritation will be particularly keenly felt in South East England. Voters here lean Tory, and are aware that it is South East England which is the wealth producing region of the UK. The knowledge that their Tory Prime Minister will now take even more of their money and fire hose it into Scotland and give Scotland even more special powers will drive away Tory voters. The irony is that the Tories lost Scotland a generation ago, and his post-referendum love bombing will not change that. The only thing that will change is the Tories can add South East England to the list of places they lose as the voters there turn on the man who will squeeze them harder to fund Scotland.
So there you have it. The Tories lost Scotland, Wales, and the urban North and Midlands a generation ago. They just about remained electable as a government because of the white collar workers in South East England and the swing seats. These workers could just about put up with funding the North and Celtic countries with their tax if the national government were Tories who protected the financial service industry in which significant numbers of voters workers. Now the Tories will not protect their interests, and plan even more special treatment for Scotland, maybe the voters in South East England will join just about everyone else in no longer voting Tory. Many of the swing seats critical to national electoral victory are inhabited by white collar workers, and no government can be formed without a bullish performance in these seats. Voters there need a reason to vote for someone, and are not like the tribal voters in safe seats. The Tories are only going to give them reasons NOT to vote Tory going forward.
Without Scotland, Wales, the North, the Midlands and the South, it is impossible to win national elections. The Conservatives are on the verge of death. Cameron’s liberal agenda of wind turbines, hugging hoodies and hi-fiving Eurocrats, has stained the Tory brand even with die hard loyalists.
In the 1980s, the Tories were at their zenith, sweeping to victory over and over again. Yet just a generation later, they have lost vast swathes of the country, and are about to lose more. The Tory Party are history.