The British Tories have a similar problem. All of the influential Tories live in London. They imbibe its prosperity, its multiculturalism, its skyline full of cranes, its sexual liberalism and its internationalism. But London—for all of its qualities—is only part of Britain. There is another Britain, one that lacks the capital city’s cultural spring and where wages are depressed, where working hours are long and where globalization can be more of a problem than a blessing. Too many Conservatives give the impression that they do not really understand this Britain. Senior Tories talk about “middle-class families” who can no longer afford private education or who face extra taxation on their £2 million homes. They are out of touch. They do not seem to realize that only about one in twenty Britons send their children to fee-paying schools or that a £2 million home is far beyond the earning potential of most Britons.
Every Conservative MP should be given a business card with just one thing written upon it: £28,600. £28,600 is the average UK salary. Many earn much less, of course. Until every Tory MP understands what it is like to try to pay for a home, a holiday, a petrol tank and a supermarket trolley full of groceries for the family with that kind of money, they should not be in politics. They certainly won’t beat UKIP. Because for everything UKIP says about immigration, gay marriage and Europe, it is the ale-drinking, cigarette-smoking Nigel Farage’s attack on the remoteness of the political class that has made UKIP the most talked-about party in British politics today.
Tim Montgomerie is a columnist for the London Times and founder of the website ConservativeHome.com.
Image: Flickr/Euro Realist Newsletter. CC BY 2.0.