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The Tories have failed to reshape the establishment

Blair in 1997: knew what he wanted. Jeff Overs/BBC/Getty

An “often overlooked” failure of the Conservative Party, says Bagehot in The Economist, is how little they have shaped the country’s institutions. “It is not for want of trying.” Dominic Cummings promised a “hard rain” on civil service mandarins, only to be turfed out 18 months later. Liz Truss tried to challenge Treasury orthodoxy and “had a staring contest with the Bank of England”. We all know how that went. David Cameron pledged a “bonfire of the quangos”, the independent bodies controlling everything from water regulation to charities. Instead, with the creation of NHS England and the Office for Budget Responsibility, quangos are “more powerful than ever”. Brexit was supposed to yield a “leaner, more efficient British state”, but the UK government has effectively just “copied and pasted” EU law. “European red tape has been replaced by British red tape”.

“The Tory party has no excuses.” New Labour managed to “fundamentally alter” the way the country is run in no time at all, passing the Human Rights Act, making the Bank of England independent, and pushing through devolution to Scotland and Wales. Tony Blair’s government also replaced many of the “patrician Tories” who filled the ranks of the establishment with a more liberal and diverse bunch – people who, in further evidence of the Conservatives’ failures, are still in place today. The difference is, quite simply, one of vision. “New Labour knew how they wanted Britain to work.” The Conservatives have no idea.