Boris Johnson’s problem is that he is not a grandee
In 1970s Somerset, our Members of Parliament were old fashioned Tory grandees.
In Yeovil, the MP was John Peyton, a cabinet minister in the government of Edward Heath. In Bridgwater, Tom King was the first Westminster representative to be elected after the reduction of the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen. Tom King served in various cabinet roles in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. In Wells, the member was Robert Boscawen, a war hero who had won the Military Cross and who was universally respected for his integrity.
However, it was the Member of Parliament for Taunton, Edward du Cann whom we regarded as the most powerful of our grandees.
John Peyton and Tom King held cabinet office but could be removed from their position at the whim of the Prime Minister of the day.
Edward du Cann was chair of the 1922 Committee, the committee of Conservative backbench Members of Parliament. Edward du Cann was the sort of man upon whom Conservative leaders depended for support, the sort of man to whom Conservative Prime Ministers would turn in times when members needed to be rallied. The sort of man who was respected by his party leader
du Cann was a great grandee of the Tory party, a man who spoke with authority and who expected to be heard.
The existence of the grandees probably owed much to the way in which the Conservative Party was organised in times past. The first time a formal election took place to elect a Conservative leader was 1965, just fifty-seven years ago.
Prior to the election of Edward Heath, in a contest against Reginald Maudling and Enoch Powell, Conservative leaders ’emerged’ through a consultative process. it was such a process that had led to the emergence of the Earl of Home as Conservative leader in 1963. Disclaiming his peerage, he entered the House of Commons as Sir Alec Douglas Home and served as Prime Minister for a year, before losing the 1964 General Election.
Perhaps the influence of the grandees began to decline after the parliamentary party began to elect its own leader. It is certainly much reduced at a time when the Conservative leader is elected by a ballot of party members. Yet there must still be grandees lingering from former times who have strong opinions about the conduct of their party on this extraordinary day in British political history
It is hard to imagine how the Members of Parliament from du Cann’s 1922 Committee would have perceived a Conservative government that allowed itself to disintegrate in such a farcical manner.
Perhaps the problem is that Johnson is not a grandee, nor has he the attitude or demeanour ever to become one. The quiet reflectiveness and gravitas of the men of du Cann’s generation was never appealing to a Bullingdon Club veteran.
Watching the House of Commons, the leader of the opposition seems closer to the traditional Conservative model than the unkempt man opposite with his rambling replies and contradictory statements.
The Tories are a loose coalition that without an opposition to keep them in line will create mayhem from within. I feel both main parties hold two or three sub-parties inside them but I don’t see a rejig until Scotland leaves the union. And too that, I think the Tories are far more realistic and see that that is only a matter of time.
I also think if BJ stays in office they have a better than evens chance of being in office into the 2030s but if he goes now the leadership election will block them from office for 20 years for there is none head and shoulders above the rest and ambition in the losers will keep rebellion bubbling strongly.
Me, I’d prefer he went and made sure they aren’t in nearer than 2050.
I think whatever you think of any politicians policy decisions, there has to be a level of respect for their ability. In my case I disliked Thatchers policies, but as a politician you had to admire the way she operated. Since Thatcher the quality of senior politicians has taken a nosedive, and with it any respect for their abilities.
Johnson fulfilled the Tory parties need to “get Brexit done”, now he is surplus to requirements and is being disposed of, bring on the next sacrifice!
Johnson’s appeal to the Redwall meant he was never ever going to be able to pursue Thatcherite policies
Even in resigning, he couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions – it was herd politics!
Herd politics, little bit like Brexit then.
Living in Ireland in 2016, I was befuddled by the Brexit debate. I’m still not sure what people thought they were voting for!
I feel that the thing that pushed the leave vote over the line was a group of voters who took on all of the rubbish churned out by “patriotic” leavers on social media. Otherwise I feel it would have been a narrow vote to remain.
As an example I have a relation that had never voted for anything before, or since. On the night of the vote they re-posted a spoof video of leave votes supposedly being erased one at time and changed to remain. They believed that is why pencils were used at polling stations. I think these were the people that made the difference.
It’s hard to argue with the unreason of some people. Perhaps the only response is to create an equally fanciful counter-narrative
Keir (I’m not Corbyn) Stamer could certainly pass for a Tory grandee, especially as the policies he’s pushing seem to me more like traditional “one-nation” Tory that they are traditional Labour. He encouraged Labour to commit to a second referendum which contributed to the size of Johnson’s victory in 2019. Corbyn was a poor leader and this also contributed. However, his policies were popular in 2017 and accepted by Stamer when he was running for Labour Party leader. He seems to have distanced himself from them since his election.