I watched Tory Right’s post-election reunion – they’re already planning a war | Politics | News

Taking to the stage at today’s meeting of the Popular Conservatism movement in central Westminster, defeated MP Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg quipped that last Thursday’s election proved his party had neither been popular, nor conservative.

It produced a decent chuckle from the audience, who despite the depression of opposition setting in had turned up to rally behind the Right-wing faction as they prepare to battle the centrists for control of the Tory party.

The bleakness of no longer being in government was obvious upon arrival. The well-advertised Right-wing conference failed to attract a single protester, not even the infamous top-hatted, music-blaring Steve Bray.

The line-up, compared with PopCon’s inaugural meeting, was similarly decimated in stature. Gone and ousted from Parliament altogether were the original line-up of Liz Truss, Sir Simon Clarke, Ranil Jayawardena and Lee Anderson.

Instead, it was a parade of those lucky enough to remain in and around Parliament by virtue of peerages or jobs in think tanks.

Lord Frost, Lord Hannan, Mark Littlewood, David Starkey and Sir Jacob all took to the stage to rapturous support, albeit they were preaching to a much smaller choir.

The message they espoused from the church stage was loud and collective: the Conservative Party lost because it was not conservative enough.

They all emphatically rejected claims by those in the centre of the party that they should not pander to Nigel Farage and Reform UK voters but return to the centre ground of British politics.

Compere Mark Littlewood, formerly of the libertarian think tank the Insitute of Economic Affairs, said that the Tories‘ election result was neither the fault of Nigel Farage nor of Reform UK voters.

Instead, it was a result of the Conservative Party abandoning this ground, and nature had filled in the vacuum.

He, along with David Starkey and Lord Frost, argued that instead of the Tories moving to an illusive centre ground, it is instead up to the next leader to make the case for Conservatism that shifts the centre ground of voters towards them.

While Mr Littlewood said that the election result had clearly been very bad, the party should be thankful that it didn’t result in a “Canada-style” 1993 wipeout. It leaves them in a position to rebuild, provided the Tories begin echoing the views and concerns of voters.

Lord Hannan, an incredibly articulate former MEP, described the election result as being “self-inflicted”. He said that while it is true the Labour Party had no particular surge of support, that arguably makes the rejection of the Tories even worse.

Both he and Lord Frost slammed the party’s record in government of failing to deliver structural and meaningful reforms to the machinery of state – a failure that in the last few years meant they couldn’t stop the boats, stop protesters, or get to grips with woke issues.

Lord Hannan insisted the Tories must “fix the plumbing”.

“A large part of what we got wrong and created the space for reform was the inability of ministers to get things through hostile bureaucrats, quangocrats and judges.

“Until we have fixed that we’re always going to find ourselves back where we are. Our political and media climate only wants to blame politicians.

“If we can get our own house in order then the question of relations with other parties on the Right is of secondary importance.”

Lord Frost took aim at those on the Left of the party who claim the election result was because the party had become too Right-wing, blasting: “Really? Which Right, exactly, was this that we lived through?”

“What free markets have these been? The ones that pushed tax and spend to the highest ever level? The ones that banned fracking? The ones that endlessly adhered to the doctrines of a foreign court? The ones who allowed 1.5million into our country since 2010?”

“I must have missed this Right-wing paradise.”

Suella Braverman also Zoomed in from a conservative conference in Washington DC as she tried to rally troops behind her pending leadership campaign.

She demanded that her party stop “smearing” Reform UK, turning fire on the former Conservative MP for Clacton who compared Mr Farage’s well-attended election rallies to Nuremberg during the election.

The former home secretary added: “To my mind, the Reform phenomenon was entirely predictable and avoidable and all our own fault.

“It’s no good denigrating Reform voters, it’s no good smearing the Reform Party, it’s no good comparing Reform rallies to the rallies of Nuremberg.

“That’s not going to work. Criticising people for voting Reform is a fundamental error to make.”

Sir Jacob warned that the Conservative Party could be out of power for 30 years if it doesn’t turn the ship around, but called for humility rather than despair.

He described Thursday’s election as an “alarm bell against the policy of assuming we had a divine right to voters”.

“We thought our core vote had nowhere else to go – they did. We shouldn’t assume the pendulum will swing back.”

He concluded on a lighter note, quoting the line from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: “From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!”

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