Thursday, 22 October 2020

Red Rishi

And he has not finished yet. But why the surprise? It is 15 years since more than two thirds of Conservative Party members preferred David Cameron to David Davis, although Davis has since turned out to be a more complicated and interesting politician. Cameron moved sharply to the economic left as soon as he was no longer in coalition with the heirs of the Victorian mill owners.

His successor by acclamation had joined the party of Ted Heath, and in no sense has she ever left it, to this day. She introduced the previously derided energy cap. Given the chance, then she would also have introduced, for example, elected workers' representation on corporate boards. If Jeremy Corbyn's political views really had not changed since the 1970s, then he was not alone in that.

Both of the candidates to succeed Theresa May were economically well to the left of most of the Labour MPs who were then at war with Corbyn. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt had clearly accepted, or even presupposed, the principles of Modern Monetary Theory. There was no Covid-19 when Johnson replaced Sajid Javid with Rishi Sunak, and there was no Red Wall when Johnson announced himself "a Brexity Hezza". Or, to put it another way, a latter-day Peter Shore.

Wales's renationalisation of the railways comes some months after England's, and Scotland has yet to do it. The logical destination of Sunak's direction of travel is the Universal Basic Income, which, like free school meals in the school holidays, would never go away once it were in place. Those meals have done so in the past, but no Government would get away with that now. And once it were being paid, then try taking the UBI away from anyone. Go on. I dare you.

If Johnson did indeed stand down next year in order to make more money while spending more time with his families, then Sunak would become Prime Minister without a contest. He has not finished yet. And no one should be remotely surprised.

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