In every Tory leadership election since Thatcher, the bookies’ favourite has lost. And while you cannot easily discern where the winner would come from on the economic left/right scale, the authoritarian/libertarian scale is absolutely significant. In every single case the winner has been the Tory of the most authoritarian views, and the losers – think Ted Heath, David Davies, Ken Clarke, Michael Portillo – have been on the socially liberal side of conservatism.
Our political “journalists” only think left/right. So Cameron’s victory was a Tory move to the “left”. In fact it was not about that at all. David Davies, the favourite defeated by Cameron, has described the new Tory anti-trade union bill as “Francoist”. He opposed control orders, stop and search, detention without trial and the banning of protest from around Westminster. That is why he lost – the Tories have a dog whistle reaction to follow authoritarian figures. Cameron’s Old Etonian patrician authoritarianism is what they wanted.
That is why Theresa May is going today to give a bloodcurdling speech attempting to stir up racism against immigrants by saying they are making us poor and making our society less cohesive. She will even pander to the ludicrous notion that an economy is of a fixed size no matter how many people are in it, with a fixed number of jobs, so “they” are taking “our” jobs. Doubtless she will also outline yet more definitions of thought crime and new reasons to lock up young Muslims.
She may be vicious and dangerous to our society, but she is not stupid. It is the way to become Tory leader.
Nobody ever lost money overestimating the viciousness of the Tories. In fact the arms and security industries and the bankers, the private health companies, the hedge funds and the private agencies enforcing government policy make fortunes out of it every day.