Battle for the heart of the Tories

On one side is the 40 Group; on the other is Renewal and both hope to head off the threat from the UK Independent Party by co-opting Ukip attitudes

Share

The internal struggles of the Conservative Party grow ever more intense. On one side is the 40 Group, which published policy proposals yesterday that included a plan for teenage mothers to be denied housing benefit and required to live either with their parents or in specially run hostels. On the other is Renewal, an all-new pressure group, to be launched today, which aims to enhance the Tories’ appeal to working-class voters with policies such as raising the national minimum wage and railing against “rip-offs”.

Of the two, it is Renewal that has the better ideas. The group has been formed with the goal of extending the party’s support not just among the self-identifying working class, but in the North, in the public sector and among ethnic minorities. The instinct is a healthy one and should be encouraged.

Meanwhile, the 40 Group – made up of Tory MPs in the 40 most marginal seats – might be expected to have a narrower outlook, focused on strengthening the base secured in 2010 rather than extending it to new voters. In fairness, however, it is rather more than that. Indeed, it has a so-called 40/40 strategy looking at what it would take, not just to defend the most marginal Tory constituencies but also to snatch the 40 most winnable seats held by other parties.

We should also acknowledge that the teenage mothers policy – which rightly attracted much negative attention yesterday – is only one of 40 ideas proposed by the group. Many of its other suggestions are more akin to those espoused by Renewal, such as moving more civil servants out of the South-east and cutting pension contribution relief for higher-rate taxpayers.

There is a distinct whiff of appeasement emanating from both camps, however. Both hope to head off the threat from the UK Independence Party by co-opting Ukip attitudes into the Conservative platform for 2015.

In fact, there is no future for the Tories or for any other party in glamorising a backward-looking, fantasy-island version of English life, complete with its romanticised, insular – even slightly racist – working class. That is not the Britain of today, and even less like what it will be in 2020, which is the sunlit upland to which our leaders should be looking.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?