Operation Panic Button
How the Tories Can Win Big in 2024.
The Conservatives are in trouble. Current polling would see them lose the next general election to Labour. Even if Johnson goes, the cost of living crisis is here to stay, making any gains an uphill struggle. Worse still, a partial recovery would see a Labour-SNP coalition. That could be catastrophic for the Union and national security. The Tories need to rediscover their winning game. Fortunately there is a clear path to uniting the grassroots and guaranteeing victory.
Polls consistently show Immigration ranks as the top concern for Tory voters – miles ahead of any other issue. Furthermore it unites Blue Wall and Red Wall alike. Johnson and Patel have been a disgrace: opening the door ever wider for legal and illegal immigrants alike. Their public rankings on handling immigration are the lowest ever recorded.
Crucially, sorting immigration is the one thing that can reverse the sense of betrayal among red wall voters. They were willing to give the Tories a try because of Brexit, now they feel they have been taken for a ride. If we don’t reverse that sense of betrayal, their support will be lost for a generation.
What is needed is a complete fix, backed by a simple slogan like Fix Immigration Now. Dominic Cummings was right that appealing to the public requires one simple message at a time. Hence, ‘Get Brexit Done’ was enough to win even Boris Johnson the biggest majority in a generation.
And like Brexit, this is the opportunity for once-and-for-all end to an itch that has been scratched for two decades. Fix Immigration Now would involve a binding pledge or National Referendum guaranteeing three things:
1. Balanced Immigration. That means a maximum of net zero, one-in-one-out immigration.
2. All applications to enter, live or extend a stay in the UK would have to be completed from non-UK territory. Foreign students would have to go home after their degree and asylum seekers would have to apply from elsewhere. Crucially, it would mean no migrant could turn up and stay indefinitely, as the Liverpool Bomber did.
3. Repatriation of all immigration matters to Westminster. That means a complete end to judicial activism, international and devolved law making. This is the ‘take back control’ we were promised after Brexit.
This could be backed up with more vote-winning promises such as; tax cuts for funded with higher fees for migrants, restrictions on foreign house buyers, limited access to state health and education for non-UK nationals; plus instant, non-appealable deportation on conviction of a crime.
Fix Immigration Now is the Tories’ chance to replay the glory days of Get Brexit Done.
December 2019 was a master class in how to win an election. First you need a clear policy backed by a simple slogan. Like Get Brexit Done, it needs to emphasise Finality: This is a once-and-for-all sustainable fix, with no more tinkering around. In today’s world of fire-fighting politics, a permanent fix to a long-term problem will cut through.
Like Brexit, Immigration ties in with everything else. Tackling immigration helps you tackle NHS waiting lists, housing shortages, inequality, public service delivery, pollution, net zero, the culture wars and the environment. Mass immigration has made these problems moving targets that get harder and harder to reach. Thus Fix Immigration Now is an electorally snappy answer to every question.
Furthermore, immigration is the one issue that other parties cannot match. If you promise to build 40 hospitals, Labour will just raise you 50. Pledge Net Zero by 2050 and Labour will make it 2045.
Not only that: turning the next election into an immigration referendum would plunge all the other parties into chaos. It would expose their contradictions, open up political fault-lines and trigger internal civil wars.
To make the Labour party unelectable, the best thing the Conservatives could do would be to reopen the Brexit fissure between old Labour and new Labour. The immigration debate amplifies the sense of betrayal that old Labour voters feel, and the sense that the Labour party hates the majority of its voters. Old labour understands the burden immigration places on public services, especially the NHS. It has experienced how immigration hurts low-income communities and the pressures it puts n housing.
Immigration also exposes the Liberal Democrats as a massive fraud. The Lib Dem resurgence has been driven by their opposition to house building and infrastructure projects that damage local communities and natural environments. By calling out their support for mass immigration, this is all exposed as a massive contradiction: how can you invite millions in and not build anywhere for them to live?!
The SNP fare no better. The SNP is a Nationalist Party. The grass-roots do not like foreigners and were historically linked to attacks on English people living in Scotland. In contrast to Scottish government rhetoric, polls consistently find Scots are even more opposed to immigration than those South of the border. Hitherto, Nicola Sturgeon has been able to conceal this truth. Her pro-immigration rhetoric is tolerated because it is viewed as undermining Westminster. Holding a nationwide debate on immigration would expose this fault line. The Tories could even call the SNP’s bluff: if they’re so keen, why not offer to process and resettle all illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Scotland?! See how that goes down with SNP heartlands!
As for the fringe parties, UKIP, Reform and Reclaim voters are even more opposed to immigration than Tory voters. If the Tories tackle the issue head on, they are redundant. At the other end of the spectrum are The Greens. Something true environmentalists increasingly understand is that environmentalism is incompatible with population growth and population density. People need space to live, and that space has to be taken from nature. There is no way the UK can meet its environmental targets if the target is constantly moving further into the distance. It is just gesture politics. Immigration exposes Green activism as virtue-signalling gesture politics.
As well as Brexit, Covid has also taught us how to rally the public around a common cause. Pre-Covid it was seen as impossible to get the public to consensually agree to the biggest restriction on their liberties in history, the banning of everything that was regarded as fun, and all at a cost of half a trillion pounds. And yet the public supported this for two years. Most of the time they policed themselves and actually wanted even tougher rules!
Governments around the world worked out that if you give daily or weekly presentations full of alarming data and forecasts, then very quickly the public will be begging you to do anything to fix it.
Immigration, just like Covid, is full of alarming statistics: the surging channel crossings, foreign criminals on the run, the growing housing shortages or the thousands of new arrivals turning up at NHS hospitals every day. The forecasts are even more terrifying, with mass immigration threatening to overwhelm our public services, our environment and our way of life.
In our age of 24/7 connectedness, presenting the true picture on immigration – how the problem is growing unsustainably every day – is enough to bring everyone on side.
Having broken his promises too many times Boris Johnson is not the man for the job. But whoever succeeds him should not need reminding that the Conservative Party exists to govern responsibly and win elections. That means putting immigration front and centre.
A tough and democratic stance on immigration alone will win over 40% of the vote, guaranteeing a sizable majority. Like Brexit, this is the one issue that can unite the blue wall and the red wall while plunging the opposition into chaos.
It is time to start winning again, time to Fix Immigration Now!
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