The mood at the Tory party conference was “grim to funereal”, says Tim Stanley in The Spectator. “They know they’re beat.” But this is about more than the 45p tax cut. “The reality is that Britain doesn’t want what the Conservative Party is now selling.” Liz Truss’s economic diagnosis is sound: the West isn’t productive enough, which has left too many people chasing too few products, creating inflation. The solution pursued since Blair has been to give consumers more money to spend, but at some point the cash runs out. In the meantime, the economic base has neither modernised nor grown. What Truss is trying to do – with tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation – is “give business a boot up the daisy”.
The problem is, “the national culture has moved in a very different direction – because of earlier things the Tories did”. First, Brexit. Leaving the EU involved making promises to spend more and reduce migration to protect jobs: it was a right-wing victory always likely to benefit the left “in the long run”. The need to keep former Labour voters onside was what drove Boris’s populist, levelling up agenda – and Truss’s pivot from that to libertarianism isn’t what people voted for. Second, Covid. Rather than telling us to “wash our hands and go about our business”, the Tories “adopted a kind of war communism”. Then there’s the “cultural decline” – the party’s constant trashing of the humanities and rows with the Church. The Conservatives have “lost touch with the soul of Toryism”. That’s why voters are rejecting Truss. “And I can’t entirely blame them.”