Not even a week has passed since the election and the Tories are already manoeuvring for the next one with three expert bits of politicking.
(1) Suggest vote on foxhunting ban
Sends out the right message to the rural heartlands and winds up the metropolitan elite, who will be guaranteed to “over-react”. As David Cameron himself wrote in the Countryside Alliance;
“There is definitely a rural way of life which a born and bred Londoner might struggle to understand”
And sure enough, an outpouring of emotion on Twitter just seems to emphasis his point. This move is not about freedom, nor is it an outpouring of bloodlust (he’s not saying they will do it, merely that they will allow a vote on it) but it is excellent divisive politics.
(2) Make like you’re going to push ahead on the Human Rights Act repeal
There are many excellent and learned pieces on how complicated this is going to be in practice. David Allen Green is an excellent commentator on this and has summarised some reading here and Michael Gove’s former SpAD has some interesting views too.
Does any of this complexity really matter? If the Tories make great gestures about going for this and are thwarted by mandarins, devious lawyers or “Europe”, all of this plays into the narrative that the great nation of England is being pushed around by illegitimate powers. They may lose the battle but will win the (electoral) war.
(3) Be tough on extremism
Cameron’s wording about “passive tolerance” is, again, political genius. “Tolerance” is one of those words (like “human rights”) that is sadly undergoing metamorphosis from a great British value to some dirty activity that we should be ashamed of.
As with the Human Rights Act, what really seems to be going here is dog whistle politics at its most depressing. Cameron’s aides are borrowing heavily from the UKIP book of tricks. And why not, as that’s the share of the vote that’s grown most rapidly?