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British politics

The Tory bruiser who backs the death penalty

Lee Anderson: a “distinct view of the world”. Jeff Gilbert/Alamy

What on earth can the Tories offer Red Wall voters at the next election, wonders Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. Judging from the polls, Rishi Sunak is on course to lose “almost every single seat in the north of England” and lead his party to its worst defeat in a century. Against this background, it was a smart move of our “workaholic teetotaller” PM to promote the “rough-edged human dynamo” Lee Anderson to be Tory deputy chairman.

Anderson’s “distinct view of the world” made headlines this week when the former coal miner and ex-Labour councillor said he supported the death penalty. “Who can deny that it’s 100% effective at stopping reoffending?” Almost none of his fellow Tory MPs share his view, but “few regret that he said it” – about 40% of the country agrees with him, including 59% of Brexiteers. And Anderson has “plenty more opinions where those came from”. The Royal Navy should scoop up migrants and deposit them back in France. If a nurse or anyone else on an above-average salary is using a food bank, they must have “budgeting problems”. Anderson understands the secret of being a political controversialist: find views that elicit “squeals of outrage” from your opponents but carry mass public support. As a single parent who “knows how it feels to put your last fiver in the gas meter”, he can speak to the people in a language Labour’s Islington elite can’t match. The message his appointment sends to the Red Wall is simple: “We share your patriotic values”, Keir Starmer “disdains them”.