Many people know former Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Balfour’s arrogant remark that he would rather listen to the views of his valet than those of the Conservative Partyconference. By contrast, Margaret Thatcher relished the yearly ritual of conference. She instinctively trusted her party activists. Theresa May is likely to follow this example.
In her speech today the Prime Minister placed herself firmly on the side of the party volunteers and supporters who felt alienated during the Cameron years. Their feelings towards the Cameron regime are understandable. It was, after all, Andrew Feldman, David Cameron’s Oxford tennis partner, who, as party chairman, referred to many Tory activists as “swivel-eyed loons”. What they say about Feldman and his ilk is probably unprintable.
The Prime Minister has laid out her political stall. She condemned the elites who feel so superior to the millions of ordinary men and women who voted to leave the EU. As the MP for a constituency which voted 60 to 40 per cent to leave the EU, I find it patronising to listen to well-paid metropolitan professionals sneer at Brexit voters.
Those I represent were well-informed and rational. They had a clear-eyed view: they just didn’t want to be part of an EU they saw as an irremediably failing institution. They were also insulted by the scare tactics of the Remain campaign. As one voter said to me, “I don’t like being bullied”. He changed sides to support Brexit when he heard about George Osborne’s so-called “punishment Budget”.
The views of a large majority of people attending the Conservative conference are the same. They are not “thick” or uneducated and Theresa May addressed them today as sensible grown-ups. ......
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