To Her Detriment, the Lady Was for Turning

A view from a distance has its advantages. For example, if I still lived in my suburban birthplace in Liverpool, England, I would be surrounded by people who detest Tories. Anthony Albanese would feel at home. On the whole, it’s a city which contains lots of people who, for no good reason, have a general feeling of being persecuted by toffs in London who, of course, are all Tories to a man and woman. It’s pathetic really, but then again Liverpudlians have a lively sense of humour which more than makes up for their persecution complex. And, to boot, they have a great football team. For the avoidance of doubt, Liverpool FC.

My point. The demise of Boris Johnson would have been mostly met in Liverpool with cheers. A step closer to the saving premiership of Labour’s Kier Starmer. Me, I couldn’t see it. Exactly what had Johnson done so relatively soon after a thumping election victory?

You will recall his visits to a few late-night staff parties at Number 10 during the useless and debilitating lockdowns. And maybe he obfuscated and fibbed a bit when the pictures catching him in the act came out  But really, how trivial in the life of a nation!

Then there was the question of whether he knew about Mr Pincher’s penchant for groping men in the Carlton Club before appointing him deputy chief whip. Did he indeed refer to him as Pincher by name, pincher by nature, as alleged by former and disgruntled chief of staff Dominic Cummings? And if he did, what does it matter? Personally, I don’t see why groping a few grown men disqualifies anyone from political office. I suppose it might depend on how aggressive was the groping. I would draw the line at persistent groping of women, or any groping of boys or girls. But grown men at a club?

In a previous Quadrant piece, I suggested that the poor polling at the time was the real reason Boris met his end. Things survivable when riding high can do you in less felicitous times. But how his fair-weather colleagues would like those polls now. A selection of recent polls has the Conservatives trailing Labour by between 30 and 40 percent.

I am an incurable sexist. I admit it. I felt sorry for Liz Truss, despite her poor speaking voice, where I wouldn’t have given a fig for a man in the same situation. Particularly one with a regional accent. Apparently, her economic policies led to turmoil on financial markets. Lowering taxes caused tremors in The City. The pound fell and bond rates rose on inflation fears. Instead of staying the course – or trying to – she sacked her chancellor and apologised. Not made of steely Thatcherite stuff. Gone, it seems, are the conservative political giants of yesteryear. That aside, little did Truss know that the 1936 version of John Maynard Keynes lay behind her demise.

Keynesianism is a major and persistent problem. It’s followers, almost all of the great and good, including central bankers and wallies in the financial sector, see reduced taxation as putting more spending power in the economy. They are besotted with the spending side of economies. Donald Trump crashed through this superstition, as did Reagan before him. But then they were Trump and Reagan. Reduced taxation, as they knew, encourages and rewards economic development; stimulates the supply side of economies. Of course, Truss’s instincts were right too and it’s a great pity she neither had the strength of character and, to be fair, nor the resolute support around her to carry it off.

It’s not so hard. The times are made for conservatism. They always are, but particularly in today’s world in which fringe causes monopolise the public square and irrational fears of climate change drown out common sense. Workers out there – what the Americans call the middle class – are crying out for conservatism. Without, it’s true, quite knowing that they are. The message has become confused as pantywaist liberals have infiltrated centre-right parties. Just look around Australia.

Conservatism in a nutshell: Promoting unashamed patriotism; rejecting lies about the nation’s history (like the non-existent Stolen Generations in Australia); putting the traditional family at the centre of national life; controlling borders; fighting crime; encouraging enterprise by lowering taxes and regulation; making energy reliable and affordable; providing quality public education untainted by politics and sleaze; opposing the sexualisation of children; sensibly limiting abortion; outlawing the chemical and physical maiming of children’s bodies; guarding free speech and religious liberty; and not leaving fringe groups to monopolise public discourse and control the agenda.

Surely if Truss’s replacement embraced conservatism and brought the party along, that individual, whoever it might ideally turn out to be, would be a shoo-in at the next election. Fat chance, of course. In any event, you might think I’ve constructed a wish list which is totally out of steps with the times. Well, go down it and measure Trump against it. He stands up fairly well. Yes, but he lost the election to Biden. Maybe. First, it took the full unremitting power of the media and institutions of state, including the FBI, to bring him down. And if you think Biden got 81 million votes (versus 66 million for Obama in 2012), I’ve got the Harbour Bridge to sell you.

30 thoughts on “To Her Detriment, the Lady Was for Turning

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Interesting piece Peter, thank you.
    I have friends in a small rural county in England, all conservative voters and one a Conservative councillor and I know they were all Johnson supporters. Of course this was three years ago as I haven’t been able to get back , but I will be in January. They don’t comment too much by email and are naturally conservative farmers but I will find out more when we sit down over a cupper. Personally I think you’re right about Johnson and definitely about Truss, but one thing I’m surprised at is how Johnson, having come in with all the good will in the world, with the best education a man of confident, independent mind could have, including a degree in classics, the most difficult of all….. yet seemed to lack confident, independent resolve. He should have been able to carry the ball confidently himself with the minimum number of advisors to inform him….but not guide him. He also seemed to lack that inner patriotism that real conservatives, at least the ones I know there, should have and that appeals to the ordinary Englishman. He had everything going for him but just seemed to come over not really caring all that much.
    Has he learnt anything from his very short time in the ‘wilderness’ I wonder, Churchill did but then he spent years in it. In my view a man who can master the classics in the original should have the intestinal fortitude to learn very, very, quickly because unless they go for someone not yet on display I can’t really see anyone else for them as I think it should be someone who appeals to and looks like a conservative Englishman again, not some clever, politically correct type of any old persuasion.
    Problem of course may be the other Parliamentarians who may well be disconnected from the ordinary conservatives out there in the electorate ?

    • john mac says:

      PM , I think BoJo’s vapid and vacuous wife Carrie on , had something to do with his lack of resolve . He really could have done some good in his term , but the “trial by daily media” (especially social) means we are now resigned to Italian style politics , in or out on a whim and a scare .


    Did Liz Truss get in under WEF radar and now they’re looking for a replacement puppet to infiltrate into the position?

  • Tony Tea says:

    Beaten by bottom-place Forest. Nyuk. Nyuk.

  • ianl says:

    Boris baby has quit the current race for PM.

    Just leaves Rishi Sunak as the only contender, ruling out any say by the actual Conservative Party membership. That made no difference to the desired eventual outcome (by globalists) anyway, just delayed it a bit.

    Sure, Truss’ proposed reduction of taxation on upper middle class incomes upset the globalists, but frack mining the UK’s own gas deposits upset them a great deal more. Apoplexy, methinks. Like Andrews here in Vic.

    My favourite Thatcher moment, played out on the TV as a grab, came on the morning of her 1st day as newly-elected PM. She was doing the obligatory kerbside interview before entering No.10. The hubbub from the MSM had a general theme: “This is a tough job – are you sure you’re up to it ?” She leaned into the camera, peering directly at the world-wide audience: ” For the first time, Britain has a PM with a Science degree. [… deliberate pause] Got it ?!”. That anecdote was remembered from a comment above about how “Classics” is the hardest degree … or something.

  • pgang says:

    Nice article Peter. The leadership void in the west is appalling.
    I’ve been watching some of the conservative women in the run-up to the US mid terms. There is an interesting trend occurring there. It’s the mums who are taking Trump’s lead and standing up to the nonsense, as if they want to spank America’s bottom. Fearless, vocal, undeterred. Perhaps mums will rescue the west. It would be magisterial.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    I still think that Johnson deserved the boot, for having his own set of rules for himself and his cronies while the masses were forbidden to gather properly for funerals–even the Royal Family. To me, that brands him as a hypocrite, no true conservative, and utterly unfit to rule over his fellow Britons.

  • Edwina says:

    Truss was taken out by the WEF cabal!
    As simple as that!
    She was warned by that Nazi spawn Ursula von de Leyen that if she strayed from their orders/ instructions they had “ways and means” of “fixing” it. The markets were conveniently manipulated and the press, along with their pollsters were ready and waiting their instructions.
    Klaus Schwab and his WEF cabal are in charge.
    That is until people start waking up and pushing back.

  • Farnswort says:

    “Promoting unashamed patriotism; rejecting lies about the nation’s history (like the non-existent Stolen Generations in Australia); putting the traditional family at the centre of national life; controlling borders…”

    Immigration appeared to be a factor in Truss’ demise. According to the UK Telegraph:

    “The fuse for Suella Braverman’s resignation was lit on Tuesday night when she had a heated face-to-face row with Liz Truss and Jeremy Hunt, her new Chancellor, over their demands to soften her stance on bringing down immigration….”

    Braverman wanted to lower immigration in line with previous Tory election pledges. Truss and Hunt apparently wanted to loosen immigration controls in an effort to generate higher GDP growth (thereby copying the Australian model of using the mass importation of warm bodies to make the economy bigger). Braverman ultimately pulled the pin, precipitating the implosion of Truss’ prime ministership.

    Bravo to Braverman for sticking to her guns. If only Coalition MPs here in Australia listened to the electorate on immigration.

  • Farnswort says:

    “As skilled as Boris is at connecting with voters, his time saw the highest immigration on record, a failure to take on cultural battles & the highest rate of family breakdown in the West.”

    Matt Goodwin argues that the Tories have royally failed to capitalise on the political realignment presently underway in the Anglosphere. See:

  • Farnswort says:

    “As skilled as Boris is at connecting with voters, his time saw the highest immigration on record, a failure to take on cultural battles & the highest rate of family breakdown in the West.” https://twitter.com/GoodwinMJ/status/1584210947585249280

  • Farnswort says:

    Matt Goodwin argues that the Tories have royally failed to capitalise on the political realignment presently underway in the Anglosphere. See: https://twitter.com/GoodwinMJ/status/1584258957354205185

  • Farnswort says:

    Peter Hitchens on the present crisis in Britain:
    “The current mess was unnecessary. People are to blame for it. Our society is in ruins because politicians of all major parties ruined it. They attacked stable family life. They allowed the post 1960 BBC to wage a war against patriotism, religion and morality. They encouraged private debt. They removed wise controls on the twin curses of alcohol and gambling. They excused crime and let it rage and failed to prevent the spread of dangerous illegal drugs. They neutralised the police and courts. They destroyed manufacturing industry. They flung open our borders. They started stupid wars. They ruined the schools. They postponed the reckoning by borrowing and borrowing and hoping something would turn up. The great economist and moralist Adam Smith – who knew you couldn’t be prosperous without being moral – said that there was a lot of ruin in a nation. And our story of long, slow decline proves that. It has taken a lot of effort to bring one of the greatest civilisations in human history to this state, but here we are.”
    Australia, of course, is in a similar state of decay. Both countries are afflicted with a terrible set of politicians.

    • john mac says:

      Yes , Farnswort , this is the Western malaise , politicians playing catchup with the zeitgeist , musical chairs the new normal , and cowardice masking as compassion . Hitchens could have been talking about Australia , or the US , Canada and NZ.

  • john mac says:

    Peter , you’re right about about people crying out for conservatism while not knowing . I have conversations with many people , often strangers, and cautiously probe them to gauge their leanings and find that we mostly agree on what’s wrong , but not on how to fix things , they invariably follow the approved narrative on all things from covert19 , to climate hoax, to reconciliation , the ism’s , Trump and the gender insanity , and so many do not want to rock the boat , even if they tacitly agree with me , cannot endorse an Abbott, Johnson, even a Scomo (although neither do I) as the media hitjobs are too pervasive .Ie they think in conservative terms but cannot bring themselves to admit it .

  • BalancedObservation says:

    It was pretty simple really – the markets felt the tax cuts couldn’t be afforded, particularly with a large deficit and at a time inflationary pressures were seriously threatening. So they voted with their feet. The sold off the pound.
    Monetarists, Keynesians and even Callithumpians all probably thought the tax cuts were unwise. All except poor Liz Truss and her hapless followers.
    Conservatives tend to be more careful about budget deficits and excessive spending. Trump and Reagan were exceptions. Trump is actually a lot more complicated. I wouldn’t label him an economic conservative.
    I could be wrong but I’d reckon you’d find more monetarists among bankers than Keynesians.

    • Peter Smith says:

      You are wrong balanced observation. Have a look at the media releases of the Reserve Bank and other central banks to understand their Keynesian attachment.

      • BalancedObservation says:

        I get regular updates by email from the Reserve Bank. They don’t prove anything of the sort.
        Good economists find value in aspects of what’s part of many theories. It’s only those with ideological obsessions that don’t. Those that are fixated on ideology rather than evidence.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    The UK lost a real leader in Boris Johnson. Real leaders often have a few warts or imperfections. Their leadership talents are worth putting up with their personal flaws.

    Australia lost a good friend too. A real mover behind AUKUS.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    So I guess Peter Smith would be very happy with the chummy little partnership on tax cuts in Australia between Labor and the Coalition – despite the new inflation threat and deficit problems.
    It’s consistent with most Coalition policy these days – they either agree with Labor or sit on the fence hoping desperately for a gotcha moment to pin on Labor. The people are totally awake to it. It’s so obvious and so dumb.
    As a result people are voting with their feet against the Coalition. Peter Dutton has managed to reduce the Coalition vote in recent polls to an astoundingly low figure – lower than the 70 year low at the last election. Time for the Coalition to look for someone who has the capacity to lead.
    Peter Dutton looked ok on the sidelines but leadership positions have a way of exposing weaknesses. He’s simply not up to the job. He’s like a dream come true for Labor.

    • Brian Boru says:

      Meanwhile we get closer to a flat tax rate as advocated by Bjelke Jo. But then, who do Labor really represent these days. Certainly not ordinary workers who would think Labor would be pursuing policies of real progressive taxation.
      Tax rates should be set in a progressive manner with sufficient steps to ensure that as citizens are able to contribute more, they do. The brackets at which rates apply should also be reset at set periods according to changes in the Consumer Price Index so that bracket creep is eliminated. Then we wouldn’t have to be having these tax cut conversations. But what greedy government of any colour would want to eliminate bracket creep?

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Of course a hopeless opposition wouldn’t be such a problem if we had a competent government, but we don’t.
    We have a Labor government which is doing everything wrong in the economic front – relying for example almost totally on the Reserve Bank to do anything effective on inflation.
    But Jim Chalmers who’s performing very badly on economic policy has completely overshadowed the Coalition on the PR front. Not hard when the Coalition’s leadership is alarmingly clueless.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Stop worrying about the UK. The great Westminster system of government might come up with many more PMs before the next election, and you never know, one of them might even be nearly as good as Boris Johnson.
    And you could argue it’s all good for democracy because nearly everyone gets to be PM.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Sadly, changing the deckchairs – and folk reclining in them – on the UK Titanic does not matter one iota, whether one PM has a degree in classics from Oxfordl, or indeed one in PPE. Both were complicit in erecting the country’s RE fiasco and embracing the Net Zero nonsense.
    No mention of the elephant in the room in the new PM’s first speech outside no 10.
    No laughing matter, of course, but I had to suppress a chuckle as both major parties here also tip-toed around the said elephant as energy prices double and. more, as a direct consequence of their mad policies. Both were silent on the colossal folly of pretending the political class, or anyone else, can somehow manipulate a nation’s – or planet’s – climate to suit its human inhabitants. They are clearly determined to make us as dependent on solar panels and wind turbines made only in China, as Europe was/is on Russian oil and gas.

  • Simon says:

    Peter- are you forgetting Johnsons’ swing to the Greens because of Princess Nut Nut? He was all for turning both landscape and seascape into forests of windmills, and leaving Britain powerless. That’s the main reason I was happy to see the back of him.

    The other being the Covid capitulation although of course, he was hardly alone on that front!

    And, to be frank, he only managed to deliver a lacklustre Brexit – Britain is still answerable to the ECHR.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    Thank you, Simon; I fail to see why so many conservatives find Johnson such a hero. He may have been better than some who preceded or followed him, but he’s hardly been a great beacon of hope–or integrity.

    • BalancedObservation says:

      In reply to Rebekah Meredith.
      It’s not a matter of hero worship to me. He was simply the best available.
      Most politicians would not qualify as a beacon of hope -or integrity”. If you waited for one to appear the PM’s seat would be left vacant indefinitely.
      Boris Johnson was the best on offer who could possibly get the numbers. He’s still the best on offer but the numbers aren’t there for him in the parliamentary party anymore.
      But polls showed clearly the numbers were there for him among Conservative voters. When polled recently during the leadership battle about 60% of them voted for him if he were still to be available – making the other leadership contenders look like also-rans.
      And of the top bunch he was the best friend Australia could possibly have. A very strong mover behind AUKUS. And strong mover behind Brexit which also flavours us.
      On energy policy he’s like most politicians in Europe. All have been given a rude awakening by the Ukraine war. They’ll probably go for more fossil fuel in the very short term ( actually anything they can get their hands on). And they’ll probably go more heavily nuclear in the medium to longer term along with renewables.
      I don’t get into the renewables debates. I just have two points to make on renewables:
      1. If renewables are cheaper why is it necessary for government to subsidize them and force their adoption?

      2. It’s likely the poorest in our communities are going to suffer the most as renewables are progressively adopted.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Many criticise Boris Johnson on energy policy but our governments, both Labor and Coalition, must surely be in very high contention for the award for the greatest stuff up on energy policy in the world along with the UK and most of Europe.
    The notable exception in Australia is WA.
    Our gas prices are absolutely ballooning yet we have considerable gas resources. For example Australia is the largest exporter of LNG in the world. Only Qatar gets even close to us.

    • Farnswort says:

      Agreed. The management of our energy resources has been absolutely shambolic. The lack of a domestic gas reservation policy in the Australian eastern states is inexcusable.

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