August 2, 2017

Some advice for the Prime Minister…

Some advice for the Prime Minister…

A reputation for efficient and competent governance has helped the Conservative Party set itself apart from the Labour Party, but the recent general election result and ensuing Government chaos means this reputation is waning, says Peter Bingle.

Margaret Thatcher once remarked that for government to be caring it was also essential to be efficient. Her point was very simple. The Left talks about caring without ever thinking about how to deliver efficient services. The Right understands that mouthing platitudes isn’t enough. Services have to be efficient to have any real impact.

Voters of every political persuasion expect Tory governments to be both efficient and competent. It is something which has traditionally differentiated Tory governments from those run by the Labour Party. Today, however, there is a risk that this is no longer the case. If the average voter was asked to describe the government it is unlikely that ‘competent’ would be the first word that sprung to mind!

This lack of competence plus no obvious signs of a compelling narrative is at the heart of the government’s current problems. It needs to be sorted and quickly.

Brexit may dominate life in the Westminster Village, but for the rest of us the reality is very different. Making ends meet with diminished resources is a daily problem for many voters. They want job security, higher wages and lower taxes. This should be written on the walls of every ministerial office.

In addition, voters who are inclined to vote Tory want to hear ministers talking about aspiration and rewarding hard work and thrift. They want more choice in education and higher standards of literacy and numeracy. They want quality healthcare and a system which offers real help for people with mental health problems. Again, this should be at the heart of the Tory narrative.

Voters no longer buy the argument that the government cares about policing when there are tens of thousands fewer police officers. The police and the other emergency services are just as important as our military in keeping us safe and looking after us in times of crisis. All good Tory messages in normal times. Tough decisions needed to be made during the economic crisis. We now live, however, in a post austerity world.

So, what has gone wrong? The obsession with Brexit seems to be preventing the government from governing. Voters expect the government to deliver on the result of the referendum. They also expect the government to deal effectively with the non-Brexit agenda. This isn’t happening.

So, the PM and her key advisers need to create a powerful, compelling and popular policy narrative. This is hopefully being prepared by the PM’s impressive Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell and First Secretary of State Damian Green and then announced to the faithful at the Tory Party conference. It needs to focus on mainstream issues which resonate with ordinary voters. Transgender reform has its place but …

The bedrock of Tory support across the country is the group of voters described as middle-class. Support their aspirations and reward their ambitions and they will turn out in their millions to vote for you. Yet successive Tory PMs seem obsessed with targeting voters who will never ever vote Tory. The last election decisively proved that. It is time for Ministers to learn the mantra: “Middle-Classes Rule OK!”

Ministerial collective responsibility needs to be restored and enforced by the Chief Whip. Thatcher would never have tolerated the extent of private media briefings by senior Cabinet Ministers. The solution is very simple. If they aren’t prepared to follow the agreed government position they should resign or be fired. Voters don’t like seeing Ministers briefing against each other.

Tory MPs also need to be read the riot act by Tarantula fan Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. It is essential that Tory MPs play their part in showing the public that this is a competent government with a compelling policy agenda which will last five years. If individual Tory MPs become regular rebels the Whip should be withdrawn and the local Association told to deselect. It is time for realpolitik amongst Tory MPs.

Finally, the Tories need to relentlessly remind voters just how extreme Corbyn’s shadow ministerial team really is. The modern Labour leadership is not part of the political mainstream and yet Tory strategists have allowed the likes of John McDonnell to be treated as if he is. The Tory gloves need to come off.

The last general election marked the high point of Corbynism. It is unlikely he will do so well next time. Indeed, it is unlikely he will still be Labour Leader next time. So, all the Tories need to do is keep their nerve, start governing and reward and inspire their supporters. Is that really too difficult?

4.62 avg. rating (92% score) - 16 votes
Peter Bingle
Peter Bingle
Peter is the Founder of Terrapin Communications. With a career in politics and communications that has spanned almost four decades, he is one of the country's leading public affairs practitioners. His career has seen him advise many top companies, including McDonald’s, HSBC, L’Oreal, Permira, Motorola, Camelot, Rolls Royce & Kellogg's.
  • gunnerbear

    Bit difficult for people to own their own homes when HMG drove forward the sell off of social housing and then forbid LAs replacing the stock that was sold and then the same HMG went on to encourage the incoming HMG that such a policy was a sensible option. Ohh….it’s also incredibly difficult to raise productivity and wages in a service economy….and Blues and Reds seem to have forgotten that. Meanwhile we’re stood on island made of coal wondering how to keep the lights on….

  • gunnerbear

    If the current Labour bosses were in power and were all Communists…..real ones…..not plastic London ones….there wouldn’t be an issue with immigration nor home grown terrorism. Mind you big chunks of the country would be more than a bit empty….

  • gunnerbear

    Take the policy over social care…. ..richer older voters want to keep all their profits from house price rises etc. whilst demanding the costs of social care be met by all voters… ..younger voters went f**k that…we’ll never own our own homes and now you want us to pay for your care….we ain’t voting for that. Older houseowners want (a) to see the value of their homes keep rising whilst (b) making sure that their own children have access to cheap homes… …and that means building homes all over the place which eats into land and also acts to depress house price rises…. …best of luck to any version of HMG that can massively boost the supply of homes, keep NIMBYs happy and keep house prices rising but not at a rate that outstrips wages.

  • Andrew Mitchell

    I think Mrs May needs to look back at the way Thatcher ran the party and copy her, I think she should kick out those actively stabbing her in the back like Hammond and Rudd, everyday that they remain in place is a day their plotting against her, they put stopping Brexit on a higher list of priorities than working for her, its obvious that the pair of them think May is weak and will do nothing to them, they also believe that the public gave the wrong answer in the referendum, so they aim to change it, and they know that May wants to do what the public voted for, bottom line for these two at least is, their willing to go against the public and their willing to go against Mrs May, if she allows them to remain in post, when she finally pulls the knife out from her back, those two will be standing right behind her with a smile!

  • Thomas Katz

    “So, all the Tories need to do is keep their nerve, start governing and
    reward and inspire their supporters. Is that really too difficult?”

    But this lot aren’t Tories, Conservatives they are not! They are a load of whinging whining wazaks, a la Hammond Rudd and Sourby!

    Their one reasonable hope, Mr Rees-Mogg may be a little too late for the Party

  • Ravenscar

    corbyn is stuck in his schooldays because his mental age never progressed past 14.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    God save us from ‘Conservatives’ like Bingle. They call for ‘compelling political narrative’ without offering any and deriding the people who do, like the Brexit Extremists. Bingle and May are just the same as all the other Remainers: they think everything is about management. Mrs Thatcher challenged the socialist consensus and had a clear idea where she wanted to get to: sound money, a smaller state, people owning their own homes – all in an independent and democratic Britain.
    Modern Tories like May have none of that; they accept the socialists consensus, the drift towards oligarchy, and just want to be in power. The trouble is if you promote soft socialism it should be no surprise when people vote for the real thing rather than your self-promotion.

  • Ozfan

    All very well, but as so often no mention of the elephant in the room, single biggest issue that has and is transforming the UK daily and downgrading quality of life prospects of it’s inhabitants … yup mass immigration.

  • grumpyashell

    Well,if you went back 5 or 10 years and told the Labour Party that Corbyn would be their leader,the majority of Labour supporters would have thought you mad. So Moggy for Leader…why not,at least he is not stuck in his schooldays unlike Corbyn.

  • alecto

    Rees Mogg for PM!! He is the only one of them worthy of the position – the rest of them are fakes.

  • 50 pounder

    The Tory Governments since 2010 have gone out of their way to damage their natural supporters which you call the middle class. No sign the useless bunch now in charge have learnt any lessons. But unless they change their ways I will not vote for them. Made that mistake in 2010 but not in the last two general elections. And many of my friends also did not vote for them, all natural Tory voters. Eventually the penny may drop but not very likely unless they reinvent themselves with a new leader.

  • Bogbrush

    This is all correct but you can’t create a philosophy where none exists. May is a middle manager, good at securing power from rivals and managing the short term but without vision.

    People talk about vision but you either have it or you don’t, and if you do it’s so obvious that nobody can miss it. You don’t even have to try to explain it, it’s evident in the every action or statement, you can’t hide it. It kills you to act against it. You get furious when it’s undermined. You can’t fake it because, not truly knowing what it is, you backtrack or contradict yourself.

    It’s not only May. What’s Boris Johnsons vision other than him in No. 10? Not interesting to me. What’s Hammonds, or Rudds? Or any of them? Davis has clear convictions, I’ll give him that.

    This is why having got past my initial humour at the prospect of PM Rees-Mogg I can actually get my head around it now. He’s crystal clear, always consistent, has a coherent response to every policy and resonates. It’s because he’s got a clear personal vision. Perhaps there are reasons why he might not make it but give me a person of vision struggling to make it happen over a middle manager any day.

  • Dr Evil

    The current Labour hierarchy are all communists. The feeble left of centre MPs have shut up instead of doing something about forming a new Labour party. So they are complicit communist sympathisers. Utterly wrong in our democracy. They need to do something.

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