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Tory politics

The Hector and Achilles of Tory politics

Nick Timothy, left, and Rupert Harrison

The Tories have only just begun selecting candidates for the next general election, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg, but they have already netted “two big beasts”. The first is Rupert Harrison, who was so powerful as George Osborne’s chief of staff that Westminster folk called him “the real chancellor”. The second, Nick Timothy, was Theresa May’s “take-no-prisoners” consigliere; in Downing St, he had a dedicated “bollocking room” for dressing down officials and ministers. Both men are politically talented enough to revive the Tories’ fortunes. The thing is, they have very different views about what direction the party should take.

Harrison embodies David Cameron’s “Notting Hill conservatism”: he thinks the Tories should be wooing cosmopolitan professionals with social and economic liberalism. Timothy, in contrast, wants to attract working-class voters with social conservatism and economic nationalism. (“Fittingly, Harrison was head boy of Eton, while Timothy, the son of a steelworker, went to his local grammar school.”) The generous view of all this is that it demonstrates “the vitality of the Conservative Party” – these are “serious people” tussling with the most profound questions facing our country and economy. My own hunch is that Timothy’s faction will triumph: “the economy is too flat, the losers too numerous, and the culture wars too vicious to justify a return to Cameronism”. But either way, these two men will be “leading warriors” in the coming Tory war, “perhaps even Hector and Achilles”.