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The Tories: in office but not in power

Blair and Cameron in 2010 Indigo/Getty

Despite 13 years of Tory rule, says Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph, Britain remains “trapped in a dysfunctional paradigm shaped by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown”. Those men transformed Britain far more than anyone realised at the time, empowered a “nomenklatura of lawyers, bureaucrats and cultural propagandists” to entrench their ideas, and bamboozled “Tory wets” into believing that their brand of “technocratic social-democracy” was the only morally acceptable way to govern. Labour is the source of all the “pathologies plaguing Britain”, from our obsession with the “moribund NHS” to our “anti-housebuilding planning system”. But the Conservatives are just as much to blame: for more than a decade, they have been in government “but Labour ideas have been in power”.

In a “shocking case of political Stockholm Syndrome”, many leading Tories turned out to be Blairites in disguise, in awe of New Labour’s political achievements, “terrified of being seen as conservative” and ashamed of the real views of the electorate. In the rare cases when David Cameron and George Osborne broke with Labour, “they picked the wrong battles” – austerity was a “reversible damp squib” that “salami-sliced” the state and cut the wrong projects. Theresa May was “to the Left of Blair”; Boris Johnson a “tax-and-spend social democrat and net zero radical”. Sunak started badly but does now seem to have noticed that when he attacks the legacy of Blairism – on climate, on immigration, and on the “ultimate neo-Blairite folly” of HS2 – his poll numbers go up. It’s a crucial lesson: “He must ignore the Tory wets, and finally banish the Labour era.”