|Exit polls, Dec 12, 2019, 10 pm GMT|
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Dear Boris, Hallelujah!
by Andrew Roberts
Dear Boris, Hallelujah! The historian in you will have been relishing all the dates that we heard on Thursday night, with constituencies returning Tory MPs that have not done so since 1931, 1922, even 1918.
You have pretty much single-handedly given us the best result since 1987, another great date in Tory history.
Meanwhile, Labour having had their worst drubbing since 1935, a date that will have a particular resonance for you as a biographer of Churchill, coming right in the middle of his Wilderness Years.
Yet of course there’s a warning there too, because in the next election after 1935, Labour won a landslide victory of 393 seats, even more than you’ve just won.
Another remarkable statistic about your opponents is that by the time of the next election, Labour will not have won an election in half a century under anyone not called Tony Blair.
When we leave the EU on January 31, you will have already become the most consequential prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, what we historians call a “rain-maker PM”, one of the handful who institute lasting change, like Clement Attlee and Thatcher herself.
But there is another prize that you will hopefully already be concentrating your historically conscious mind upon. For no party in British history has been on the winning side of five general elections in a row since 1830.
If you were to manage that, you would beat the records of the Salisbury-Balfour premierships, as well as those of Thatcher-Major and Blair-Brown. It would be an astonishing achievement, and with your highly competitive nature, something to aim for.
Do you recall visiting the “Churchill: The Power of Words” exhibition that I co-curated at the Morgan Library in New York about ten years ago?
How we couldn’t find a taxi to take us uptown fifty blocks to a party, and how therefore you and I and the beautiful woman you were with took a bicycle-taxi up Madison Avenue.
After about ten blocks, when the pedal-cabbie understandably seemed to be making heavy weather of it, you and he swapped places and pedaled us the rest of the way, swerving in and out of the traffic for forty blocks uphill and somewhat nerve-wrackingly.
When he shouted to you that you didn’t have a license, you called back over your shoulder, “I have the universal license; I’m chairman of Transport for London!”
Well, today you really do have the universal license to remake politics and British society, with an election victory that was focused all around you and your central messages. Dominic Cummings and Isaac Levido were brilliant hires and did an absolutely superb job, but this is your victory.
In order to repeat it, and win that fifth term for the Tories, you are going to have to be extraordinarily bold quite apart from Brexit, politics and even the economy.
You must fight the battle for British political culture, a struggle that every British Tory premier has ducked since the fall of Margaret Thatcher 39 years ago last month.
Why should it be that in huge and vital areas of British life it is considered a dirty word to be a Tory? Why are over 85 per cent of university lecturers left-wing? Why is every BBC show so painfully politically-correct?
Why do the masterships of so many colleges of Academe go to former Labour cabinet ministers and the ex-editors of Left-supporting newspapers and media enterprises? Why does the Civil Service only ever leak in a pro-Remain way?
This, and the Left’s control of so many quangos and arts organisations, is something that you must now tackle.
If you don’t, and the Left continues in control of all of the commanding heights of our political culture except for the House of Commons, they will be able to pour their anti-capitalist bile into the minds of our youth for another half-decade before the next election.
Already the Left is closing down free speech in our universities, so complete is their control. The Italian Marxist political scientist Antonio Gramsci argued that the Left did not have to win election and after election, but instead only needed to take over all the key institutions of the state and then indoctrinate the people.
That has been happening to such an extent that no fewer than one-third of the electorate voted for a pro-IRA, anti-Semitic Marxist to become prime minister on Thursday.
Of course the British people love democracy – it was why Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire because people spotted the contempt for democracy inherent in her pledge to stop Brexit without even holding another referendum.
As a Churchill admirer – indeed the author of a Churchill biography almost as successful as mine – you will remember his father’s Tory Democrat call: “Trust the People”. One must trust them, but in the next election you will not have the inestimable advantages of “Get Brexit Done” as your cry and Jeremy Corbyn as your opponent.
Therefore you need to institute a Gramscian counter-march through the institutions, liberating one after the other from the grip of the Left. The economic and political battles are not the whole struggle.
In five years’ time it should be possible to be a proud Tory in the BBC, a Scottish University, an NHS Trust, the Channel 4 board, or even a major trade union, and not feel that you are carrying The Mark of Cain.
For then we might get back to a sensible politics in which a prime minister of Britain is not held personally responsible for the wellbeing of every one of the more than one million patients that are served by the NHS every thirty-six hours, where a film crew can shove a photo of the front page of The Daily Mirror and expect an immediate display of emoting in response.
We will instead have a politics where actors like Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant get on and act, rather than lecturing us on how to vote against the Conservatives, and where has-been politicians like John Major, Tony Blair and Michael Heseltine, who had their day in the limelight decades ago, no longer think we are interested in their bitter, ancient gripes against the democratic will.
You might even be able to teach Nicola Sturgeon what the phrase “once in a generation” when applied to the 2014 Scottish referendum actually meant.
Achieve that kind of change in our political culture, and Redcar really will stay Bluecar, and you will be well on your way to becoming World King!
Congratulations again on an extraordinary result.
Fondest regards, Andrew.
Historian Andrew Roberts’s Leadership in War was published last month.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 12:22 AM