The British Rebirth of Blue-Collar Conservatism

In May of 1997, British Tories settled in for a long night of election results. Hour by hour, seat by seat, conservatives watched as, after almost two decades of power, their party was wiped off Britain’s electoral map and violently booted from the government. Leftist nobodies felled Thatcherite beasts like Michael Portillo, and Tony Blair’s New Labour was swept into office with the largest majority of any government in British history. Twenty-four years later, Labour members settled in for a long night of election results. Hour by hour, seat by seat, Labour supporters watched as their party’s last remaining heartland was gobbled up in a Tory landslide, destroying any hope of returning to power and locking Labour out of government for at least another decade. Thanks to the cancer of wokeness, Britain’s Labour Party has died, a new blue-collar conservatism has risen to replace it, and the lessons couldn’t be starker for those American’s trying to pave a path out of decadence and into rebirth, renewal, and greatness.

Last night’s local elections in the United Kingdom were the most sweeping in almost fifty years. Nearly 5,000 council seats, assembly elections in Wales, Scotland, and London, multiple regional mayoral elections, and a monumental parliamentary by-election combined to create a “Super Thursday” of polling. The sheer scale of the election ensured that it would be Labour leader Kier Starmer’s first test of viability and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first opportunity to see if his 2019 landslide was a blip or part of a more extensive realignment in British politics. As dawn broke over London, Britain’s verdict was clear; Starmer’s Labour wasn’t viable, and Boris Johnson is carrying out a political revolution that not even Thatcher could’ve attempted. Labour has been wiped out in their traditional working-class heartland. Armed with a leveling-up agenda, Boris’ Conservative Party has risen to fill the void and excite blue-collar voters with an intensity unfamiliar to British political observers. Weakened, seen as out of touch by voters, and riven by internal divisions, Labour now faces an impossible road back to power. At this stage, it is not sure there will ever be another Labour Prime Minister. So, how did a party which only twenty years ago was an unstoppable electoral machine collapse so hard and fast?

Unfortunately, the answer is not all that surprising. Like other leftist parties in Europe and North America, Labour was felled by a sense from working-class voters that it no longer cared about their priorities. Obsessed with identity politics and the cancer of wokeism, Labour had long ago dispelled any notion they truly cared about the challenges faced by working-class voters. Captured and held hostage by metropolitan progressives, Labour had morphed from a working-class party into a champagne socialist outfit that would rather debate pronouns than industrial policy. Brexit, and urban progressive responses to it, laid bare to working-class voters the contempt they were viewed in. Branded as thick, ignorant, and racist by their party’s leaders, working-class voters shifted in droves to the Conservative Party.

For example, yesterday in Hartlepool, a working-class constituency Labour has held for 50+ years, Tories won with a margin of 17%. For reference, imagine Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York being ousted by a populist Republican challenger with a double-digit lead. What happened in Britain last night wasn’t simply a slight shift to the Conservatives; it was a massive and earth-shattering landslide. To everyone in Britain, except Labour Party members, it is evident that wokeism is a fatal disease that would cripple the United Kingdom. A new kind of blue-collar conservatism that is fiscally liberal and culturally conservative has been birthed in response. It is now painfully clear that Labour will continue to flounder at the ballot box as long as it takes the knee for those who seek to destroy Britain’s history and culture. Meanwhile, the Tories continue to defend Britain’s national character and the economic interest of her working-class patriots.

For those of us across the pond, Boris Johnson’s successful realignment of British politics provides a valuable model in carrying out our revolution. Already, allegiance has begun to shift amongst working-class, Hispanic, and Asian voters in the United States. Feeling ignored and patronized by Democrats, and with Trump seen off as an existential threat, traditionally Democratic voters are moving towards the Republican party. It cannot be understated the role Democrat’s obsession with wokeism and a politics of grievance has played in causing this shift. Using Britain as a model, it is only a matter of time that voter’s movement to the right will result in shock victories for conservatives across the country. California’s unexpected recall of Governor Newsom is just the beginning. Despite appearances, President Joe Biden’s success does not signal the coming of a new era of liberal dominance but liberalism’s last gasps.

As the adage goes, however, it ain’t over till it’s over. The question facing Republicans is similar to that faced by the U.K. Conservatives during Theresa May’s premiership: how to cement the potential political realignment and ensure a generation of conservative rule. It is at this juncture American conservatives must turn again to Boris’ blue-collar conservative model. Politically a centrist, Boris Johnson is not the far-right figure painted by leftists; instead, his political movement combines economic leftism with cultural conservatism to create a vision for Britain that is radical in all the right spots. Socially, Johnsonian conservatism is relatively liberal, but on issues of nationalism, history, and culture, it is unabashedly wrapped in the union jack. In the United States, this model of conservatism would fall in the median of where most voters sit and finish the political revolution begun by President Trump in 2015.

A crucial element of Johnson’s blue-collar conservatism noticeably lacking on the American right is a zeal for competency and willingness to use the levers of state to achieve political promises. Republicans in the United States must adopt this unique Johnsonian characteristic if they are to regain voters’ trust and be effective once power has been acquired. The days of Republicans being aggressive in opposition but complacent in government must end if they desire to spark a political realignment on the scale of what Johnson has achieved in the United Kingdom.

Through a commitment to working-class values, a natural loyalty to crown and country, and a willingness to abandon ineffective economic orthodoxies, Boris Johnson has transformed the Conservative party into a political powerhouse. In copying Johnson, Republicans in the United States can pull disaffected voters into their coalition, secure significant victories across the country, and begin reversing America’s decline. As the left continues to descend into a woke-induced mania, embracing blue-collar conservatism offers Republicans a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform existing political orders fundamentally. As shown in the United Kingdom last night, such a strategy can pay off handsomely. The left is dying, and unless we’re willing to let it destroy our country along the way, now’s the time for Republicans to finish them off and build back better.

One thought on “The British Rebirth of Blue-Collar Conservatism

  1. There are several disagreements I have with your thesis.

    First, white working class voters make up an overwhelming majority (70%) of the UK electorate. They make up about 40% of the US electorate. And this is really the fundamental difference in the US compared to the rest of Europe. It’s not Boris v Trump, it is the UK electorate vs US electorate. Losing Hartlepool isn’t like losing New York, it is more like losing Scranton or Steelworker country in Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio. The difference is that there are no substantial white college educated vote like formerly GOP Philly and Pittsburgh suburbs to make up for it in the UK.

    Second, there’s little indication (outside of Cubans) that the black or Hispanic shift toward Trump was more that the usual incumbent bounce. As impressive as it seemed at the time, GWB in 2004 actually improved by more (and did better) among black and Hispanic voters than Trump did in 2020. And there is little indication that black/Hispanic Biden voters have much interest in the current GOP, let alone a harbinger of a massive shift among them to vote like working class whites. That shift may well happen (and I would bet it WILL happen among working class Hispanics), but it could take more like thirty years rather than five.

    Third, there’s little discussion here of the influence of the religious right and the related cultural issues. Those issues are totally irrelevant in the UK, they are very relevant here, and why quite a few secular working class women still vote Democrat. The GOP is kind of stuck here due to the large number of socially conservative voters, which are too many to seriously moderate on these issues, but too few to make social conservatism a net positive as it was 15-20 years ago.

    Fourth, the political situation in the US in 2021 is different than for the UK in 2017 for the Tories. The fair comparison to today’s situation in the US is if Jeremy Corbyn had won a very narrow majority in 2017 and passed a considerable chunk of his manifesto. Because that is what Biden is doing right now, he’s proposing to do what Corbyn promised in his campaign. And chances are that a good chunk of his proposed spending will get passed (after already passing $2T of spending). I have no idea how the UK electorate would have reacted; my guess is that at the most it would have delayed the blue collar conservative revolution. As such, this is the least important qualm I have, because it is probably not too relevant in the long term. But it could be a very relevant difference in the short term.

    Lastly, Newsom has not been recalled, and it is unlikely that he will be. (If he does get recalled, then your thesis will have more justification.)

    Certain aspects of the blue collar conservative model work well in the US, other ones do not. But a message that focuses on grievance politics largely tells college educated voters that they are not welcome is not one that is likely to be successful in the long term. Nor is one that continues to feed Trump’s ego. Yes Trump did bring in plenty of new voters to the GOP and threw out much of the unpopular parts of the old platform; however, he is now a bigger liability than asset. The sooner that the GOP can get over him, the sooner we will get to a productive conservative party.