Right to Right: The Tories’ fanatical drift could lose the masses. traditionalists

It is a thread running through the conservative leadership campaign, as shown through a clear desire to be tough on asylum seekers, the biggest advocates of tax cuts, skepticism about net zero measures: it is a There is the party that seems to have moved decisively. Correct.

Some argue that the arms race of the populist policies of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak is an example of a new conservatism, radically replaced by Brexit and Boris Johnson, which has gradually absorbed the preferences of those people. Who used to support Ukip.

However, others say vigorous talks on immigration are nothing new for the party that has pioneered a hostile climate and is already trying to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, while the Tories are a new leader. If you choose, the matter of tax deduction is almost mandatory.

But can there be any shortcoming in all these things? Some experts question whether the avalanche of hard-right policy views, particularly on immigration and asylum, shows only one party out of touch with the public who are now particularly more concerned with issues such as the cost of living.

A change seems obvious. While conservatives have always held a strain of authoritarian right-wing opinion, this was balanced by a more liberal wing—one that has almost disappeared since Johnson became leader.

Anna Soubry, the former Conservative minister who left the Party for the Unfortunate Change UK, argues that people with views such as her, Kenneth Clarke, David Gauck and Dominic Grieve were once “quite mainstream”.

Graph showing that among conservative voters, immigration remains a greater concern than health, Brexit or the environment

“We weren’t fanatics, we were the norm, and now everything has changed,” she said. “Nearly none of us are in Parliament anymore, and those who are left are now marginalised. And crazy people are running the government.

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There was some evidence in early skirmishes about whether the leadership contest showed a more true drift from Johnsonism, which spoke of bullish, American-style identity politics and was heavily influenced by the likes of Cami Badenoch and Suella Braverman. There was less state.

With the cast now shrinking in truce and cynicism, often focused on immigration and asylum, both have promised to further toughen Rwanda policy.

Nick Lovells, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, which monitors populist right- and far-right sentiment, points to a poll conducted for the group that shows he is interested in issues related to immigration and 2018 among Tory members. Says “notable changes”. 2020.

“The center of gravity in the Tory party has shifted substantially to the right,” he said. “It should come as no surprise that whether or not candidates privately support Rwandan policy, they take a harsher public position.”

Similarly, leadership competition has seen several pledges to cut taxes, even as the once financially skeptical craze performed a U-turn saying it would suspend VAT on energy bills. .

Graph showing that among UK adults, concerns about immigration have halved since the Brexit referendum

Neither has explicitly adopted the state-shrinking ethos of the likes of Badenoch, but repeated talk of efficiency and lean organizations indicates a lesser role for public services.

The two last two have also been particularly cautious on the climate emergency, with the Truss committing to suspending the green levy on energy bills, while Sunak has ruled out any role for new onshore wind projects in England.

Johnson’s successor is decided by Conservative members, which largely explains the ideological leanings. However, there are some indications that the candidates may have misread their own audience as well.

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New polling for the Onward thinktank showed that Conservative voters are particularly keen on the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, with nearly a quarter saying they would no longer support the party if the commitment was abandoned.

Rob Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester, argues that the party on immigration and taxation risks being “rapidly out of line with where the public and even the Conservative-voting public are”.

Graphic showing Conservative MPs sit to the right of party members, councilors and voters on economic values

He points to research led by Tim Bell, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, showing that Conservative members, as you might expect, are notably more right-wing on economic issues than Tories. MPs are even more right-wing.

“This tax-cutting, Singapore-on-Thames Thatcherism has always been a kind of elite hobby,” Ford said. “There has never been a referendum for that stuff. But the people who like it, like it so intensely that they project the idea onto their membership.”

On immigration, a long-term YouGov tracking of the three issues that voters view as the most important has seen immigration more than half the number since the pre-Brexit referendum in 2016, while the proportion citing the economy has increased.

“For a very long time, and not without reason, the Conservative Party has treated being authoritarian on immigration and asylum as essentially a no-loss situation,” Ford said. “And I don’t know if that’s true.

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“Attitudes towards immigration are more positive now than they are at any point for which we have voting in modern politics. This is a strange context in which very strict immigration policies are being launched.

“It’s not a pressing issue with voters in general, or conservative voters, or even socially conservative conservative voters. It’s an answer to a question that no one is asking anymore.

“People care about paying their gas bills. The only home office they are concerned about is getting a passport in time to go on vacation. All this risks looking out of touch, which was not true in the past. ,

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