Boris’ election strategy: Parliament vs the people

Despite all the harm David Cameron has done to the country, one of the few positive things he tried to do is to reform the racist tendencies of the Tory party through his One Nation Conservatism, with a party that has had a long history of racism and religious bigotry. But it seems he has utterly failed.

The extent of, in particular, the anti-Muslim bigotry inside the Tory party has come out relatively recently. A poll published in June 2019 stated the following statistics:

  • Four out of ten Conservative Party members want limits placed on the number of Muslim people entering the United Kingdom.
  • 43% of Conservative Party members “would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim.”
  • 45% believe that “there are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter.”
  • 67% believe that “there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law.”
  • 39% believe that “Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community.”
  • 79% saying they do not believe there is a problem with Islamophobia in the party.

These are same tropes that litter Daily Mail, The Express, and The Sun headlines. It’s clear from these statistics alone where they get their information from, so it’s doesn’t take a genius to extrapolate their party members are die-hard Brexiteers. 

The difficulty Theresa May had was navigating her zealot party members (and core Conservative voters) with the more sensible and well-established Tory MPs who refused the idea of exiting the EU without a deal, was based on the serious and permanent damage it could do economically and politically to the UK. 

May dealt with this problem by trying to bring both sides together through a deal that meant exiting the EU but with a deal in place. However, her exclusion of opposition parties meant that she was unable to overcome her own rebels by compromising with opposition MPs. 

Whilst this largely appeased the Tory moderates, it also inflamed the hardcore Brexiteers in her party, who wanted a removal of the Northern Ireland backstop and complete removal of the UK from the EU Single Market, not just its political union. 

This is what eventually led to May’s downfall. With the rise of the Brexit Party and Tory support shedding day by day, her position became untenable and with it any form of “respectable” Conservatism. 

Extremists Running The Show

The ideological fever of Brexiteers seems to have no bounds. They have no concern of what will happen in Northern Ireland and even willing to the risk an existential threat to the United Kingdom, with Scottish Independence a near surety with a no-deal Brexit. Furthermore, at every step of the way, whether it’s cheating and lying during the referendum, sending death threats to remain politicians, or even subverting the sovereignty of Parliament to avoid accountability, Brexiteers subverted every ounce of democracy to get their way. 

This Brexit fever is driven by nothing but English Nationalism. The BNP and UKIP parties have now found its home in the Tory party. In this light, their Islamophobic views makes even more sense, as well as the decline of support those far-right parties. 

Boris had the same problem to consider as May. Does he submit to the English Nationalism of Tory members and voters or try to keep his MPs wholly on side by taking a more measured approach?

His answer over the past 2 weeks has been clear. Boris knows the party will not survive an election if it does not deliver Brexit. That is the bottom line he must work with. Since he became Prime Minister, he has been on the electoral war footing. The fact that Vote Leave hero, Dominic Cummins, has been appointed as their election strategist is telling. 

At the end of July 2019 alone, Number 10 has spent ÂŁ100 million on advertising for the benefits of No Deal, the biggest advertising budget since World War II.

He knows he must not only deliver Brexit, but also survive it. And the only way to do so is to serve the English Nationalist’s agenda: Brexit by any means necessary. 

The Final Brexit Showdown

Boris has ditched the strategy of being a responsible sober statesman and embraced the politics spectacle and narrative instead. Proroguing Parliament wasn’t just a means to suffocate accountability but also just a spectacle to amplify a narrative that he will do everything in his power to deliver Brexit, including subvert Parliamentary democracy and lie about it. 

Afterall, his target audience, Brexiteers, never seemed to care about lies and deceit to get their way. 

Proroguing Parliament was also designed to instigate outrage among the opposition and set up the political stage where it is the people’s will, invested in Boris, versus Parliament itself, thus, setting up for an election he planned for just before Oct 31st.

For a Prime Minister that wishes to absorb the rising Brexit Party vote and moralise his own party activists to campaign on the ground, this is perhaps the best way of doing it. Even the expelling of 21 MPs who voted against No-Deal is seen by Brexiteers as Boris being bloodied to their cause and moralises their grassroots. The purge is not something to worry about but rather a necessary purification of the Tory party for the White Nationalist cause. Afterall, they can easily be replaced by other Tory MPs if their strategy works well. 

However, this has caused a united opposition against him and the Tory party. Will his high-risk strategy pay off?

Undoubtedly, this strategy will hurt most in Scotland. The Tories have 13 seats in Scotland, pioneered chiefly by Ruth Davidson. Now with Davidson off the chess board, its very hard to see how Tories would not lose at least 10 seats in this area. 

The Tories would also concede seats to the Lib Dem marginal seats. Polling over the past year has shown Remain would win by 5 percentage points if another referendum took place. Lib Dems would benefit from that vote for sure and they have far more marginals with Tories than Labour. 

The real question would be what would happen in Lab-Tory marginals of England and Wales. Tories do well, especially on the Brexit question with over 65s who tend to come out to vote more consistently than any other age group. However, the 2017 election has shown the tenacity of young Labour voters to come out in droves. Labour seized Tory heartlands such as Canterbury, making many Tory heartlands marginal. This level of mobilisation cannot be underestimated.

Ultimately, Dominic Cumming’s social media machine is their only main weapon aside from tapping into Brexit. But will it work against Labour’s superiority on ground mobilisation? It’s hard to tell.  

Does The Muslim Vote Matter?

There is also the case of the BME vote, whereby Muslims play a key role. 

It’s not just Tory grassroots who share this view of party purification. Boris is receiving substantial support from key far-right figures, including Tommy Robinson’s official Telegram channel and former Britain First leader Jayda Fransen, who praised him for “purging the traitors” in his party and called on others to fall behind him.

Passing a no-deal Brexit will only encourage and embolden far-right voices into the mainstream.

British Muslims must also understand that by supporting this English Nationalist agenda on Brexit, it will only give more credence to their wider cause. It will be our neighbourhoods, civil and human rights, and our children’s future that will come under even greater jeopardy – even if we were not to take in account the rampant Islamophobic views of the Tory party.

Brexit is just a means to something bigger. The fact that hate crime against Muslims surged just after the Brexit referendum is a huge indicator. Any Muslim in their right mind would not support the Tories in the next election, let alone Brexit. Yet there is a significant number of Muslims who think Brexit must happen. If Brexit was to come to pass, it will be more than their jobs and incomes at stake, but rather their own human rights and even their lives. 

The Muslim vote can swing up to 39 seats, enough to decide a government alone, but only if we are organised. Do we want a racist Islamophobic Prime Minister, or a Prime Minister that has a record of standing up for oppressed groups and international law?

It may well be that the Muslim vote is the deciding factor.