Boris Johnson’s election manifesto is a nauseating dog’s breakfast of a surrender to the left and about as authentically Conservative as Jeremy Corbyn’s right testicle.
But before I moan why, let’s try looking on the bright side, first. Let’s consider why this shaming piece of excremental awfulness might not be as bad as we think.
As my first witness for the defence of the incoming Conservative administration (which, I believe, is guaranteed to win this election with a sizeable majority), let me call Daniel Hannan.
Dan Hannan made some very astute points when I interviewed him in Brussels the other day.
No, he conceded, Boris Johnson isn’t nearly as robustly right-wing as those of us at the Thatcherite/libertarian end of conservatism would like him to be.
But because Boris is bright and quick and has surrounded himself with genuine talents at all levels, he’ll certainly get more conservative things done than either May or Cameron managed.
This, I think, is indisputable. (Though it doesn’t exactly set the bar high, does it?)
As my second witness, I call the doyen of political commentators — The Sun‘s Trevor Kavanagh.
Boris’s spendthrift manifesto may not look revolutionary, he writes, “but you need to read between the lines”.
All this extra cash will come at a price: The long-overdue reform of a sclerotic public sector which has served as a drag anchor on UK plc since Gordon Brown became Chancellor in 1997.
The near-sacred NHS will earn its extra billions by tackling a bureaucratic management structure which stands silent as patients die of hospital incompetence, bungled ops and lethal maternity “care”.
Police will be ordered to fight real crime instead of ticking boxes, chasing “hate” offences and offering fake apologies for turning up without the right paperwork, as they did at last week’s Manchester bombing inquiry.
And Whitehall mandarins will be shaken out of their smug complacency as the civil service “Blob” is forced into the 21st Century by new broom Dominic Cummings.
Yes. All these measures are long overdue and if the next administration is capable of implementing them effectively then Boris Johnson will have established himself as a great Conservative prime minister.
To the list of Reasons to be Cheerful, I would also add those rare moments in the manifesto when it doesn’t pander to the left. There are hints of more money for the Armed Forces, a line about preserving free speech on campus, and there’s probably a third good thing buried somewhere if you look very closely though I haven’t found it and can’t be bothered to go any longer because reading this bilge makes me quite ill.
Why do I hate this manifesto so? Because though it’s clearly not as bad as the one that cost Theresa May her majority in the last general election, it still makes the classic squishy conservative-in-name-only mistake of conceding far, far too much territory to the enemy without a shot being fired.
If the Conservatives were being harried in the polls by some plausible, centre-left opposition led by someone vaguely electable (though God knows who that might be), then you could understand why they might want to chuck in a bit of centrist pabulum as bait for one or two really thick swing voters.
But Jeremy Corbyn is the most unelectable opponent in history. Anyone deluded, politically naive, and historically illiterate enough to vote for this Marxist, terrorist-supporting, anti-Semite loser — students, mainly — is going to be far beyond the reach of any beads or baubles the Tories are capable of promising them.
So why bombard the kind of people who are never going to vote for you with bribes the country and the taxpayer can’t afford and which will only make life difficult for you once you’re in power?
This manifesto sacrifices so much to the enemy.
Instead of supply-side reforms and tax cuts, it’s promising a Keynesian infrastructure spending splurge using another £100 billion of borrowed money.
Instead of property rights, it’s promising a ban on ‘no-fault’ evictions.
Instead of fairness, it’s propping up vested interests. If you own a house, it promises, you’ll never have to sell it to pay for your dementia care. Well fine — but what about all those millions who’ve been priced out of the housing market by government manipulations like QE and don’t have such massive assets now guaranteed protection by the state?
Instead of supporting the family, it’s offering subsidised childcare so that more mothers can abandon their kids.
Instead of limited government, it’s bringing in compulsory microchips for cats, maintaining energy price caps, and enforcing a National Living Wage.
But the worst nonsense of all, of course, is its environmental policy.
“Hold your nose. Vote Conservative. Keep Corbyn out. Get Brexit done,” people on my side of the argument keep telling me.
Yes, I get all that. It’s so obvious as not to be worth stating. (Though I’d vote differently if I lived in a constituency where I thought the Brexit Party candidate stood a chance.)
What I don’t get at all is the complacency.
Here is a party with Conservative written on its big blue rosettes boasting on its manifesto about introducing environmental policies so far left they might as well have been drafted by the Greens, the Lib Dems, or Labour.
The main problem, as Ben Pile points out, is that — apart from being entirely pointless and unjustified — it’s impractical and uncosted.
Here is the @Conservatives manifesto pledges on net zero.
They do not explain how any of it will be achieved without hardship, and without reducing standard of living, income or opportunities. pic.twitter.com/ogeUk9Bnag
— Ben Pile (@clim8resistance) November 24, 2019
I’d recommend reading Pile’s entire thread, which tears these policies to threads.
How, he asks, will it ‘help lower energy bills’ if the government is planning to ‘invest’ £9.2 billion on energy efficiency of homes, schools, and hospitals? That’s taxpayers’ money we’re talking about — the equivalent of £340 per home in the UK.
What happens in 2031 when we have 40GW of wind energy ‘capacity’ but there is no wind? Where will the power come from?
What does ‘two million new high-quality jobs in clean growth’ even mean?
Why will their first budget ‘prioritise the environment’? What about British independence, economic growth, reduced cost of living?
There is only one possible explanation I can think of for this hateful lunacy is that the Conservative Party is living proof of Robert Conquest’s Third Law:
The simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.