Traditional Labour voters turned to Conservatives because they felt abandoned

BORIS Johnson lost no time in recognising that his historic election victory was down in large part to working-class voters in the Midlands and Northern England.

“Your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper before you put your cross in the Conservative box and you may intend to return to Labour next time round,” he said. “We will never take your support for granted.”

Communities feel unloved as shops have closed on the high street and police no longer patrol regularly and this needs to change
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Communities feel unloved as shops have closed on the high street and police no longer patrol regularly and this needs to change[/caption]

Too right. It is all too easy to imagine how the next election could go horribly wrong for the Conservatives.

They have a lot of work to do to convince low-income voters in the Midlands and North that they are truly on their side.

The trap that Boris and his ministers must avoid is to deliver Brexit, assuming it is all they need to do to satisfy their new-found voters.

Fail to get to know the places which turned blue on Thursday night and they will find disillusionment grows very rapidly.

Labour made the fatal calculation that Boris wouldn’t go down well in these places because he is an old Etonian.

But that isn’t what bothers people — and neither is his use of colourful language, however much it offends politically correct lefties in Islington.

What does matter, on the other hand, is that Boris shows he really is what he claims to be: a One Nation Conservative.

He needs to show that people in Workington can aspire to the same things as those in Woking.

If, in five years, anyone in Britain feels they have to leave their home town and move South — or to Leeds or Manchester — to succeed, then he will have failed.

Boris needs to learn a lesson from his sometime mentor Lord Heseltine, who won over Liverpool after riots in 1981 by helping to kick off regeneration.

ABANDONED BY PARTY

Traditional Labour voters turned to the Conservatives because they felt abandoned by the party which used to represent them but has since retreated into a metropolitan liberal mindset.

They are sick of being written off as racists and xenophobes on the grounds they are concerned about the impact of high levels of migration on wages and housing in their communities or because they see Britain’s destiny as an independent country, not part of a European superstate.

Labour has always treated the North as its own but there are two Norths.

There is the trendy North such as the centres of Manchester, Leeds: full of bars, nightclubs, smart apartments and served by high-speed trains.

Then there is the other North, the one that has missed out on investment over the past two decades — the secondary towns, the Barrows and the Redcars.

Unemployment might be low compared with in the 1980s, but these are communities which feel unloved, where the shops are closing, the banks are withdrawing, the police no longer patrol and the quality of public spaces is deteriorating.

Boris has already talked of using the freedom which will come with Brexit to create freeports, using tax incentives to attract industries with well-paid jobs.

Then there is housing. There are too many people who feel less well-off than their parents because they cannot afford to buy or even rent a decent home. This needs to be put right.

Boris Johnson often likens himself to Churchill — a fine role model except that he went down to a heavy defeat against an energised Labour in the 1945 election.

To avoid the same fate — and Labour can hardly put up as weak a leader in 2024 as they did this year — Boris is going to have get into the soul of the new constituencies he has won.



 

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