This is not an exhaustive list, but more of a question, the answer to which has been puzzling me for some time. I wanted to write about this but base it all on instinct rather than research and political theory. What is it about the Tory brand I find so utterly toxic but that other people find so attractive? Who, indeed, votes for the Tories? I thought about it and put together a few ideas. These are they:
: The gentry
: Business types
: Farmers (and other rural types)
: Self-employed sorts
: Religious people
That was it. That was all I got. And clearly it's a generalised list, because obviously not all pensioners will vote for them, or all farmers (because the rest will vote UKIP), and I dare say some self-employed sorts might even be left of centre, but it's a list based on traditional voting mores. But that's not enough to win them an election, is it? All those fusty old idiots that make up the gentry are still around, which is probably because they daren't vote for a left-wing party in case they're scrubbed out of existence, which I think would be a good thing. But no, they still believe in their inherent superiority to the rest of us, the ones without titles, country houses or Nazi-sympathising old relatives addicted to gin.
So why do pensioners flock to the Conservative Party? Nearly half of Tory MP's are 50 or over. And if we take 50 as the age when 'maturity' is starting to knock then the Tories really are the party of the pensioner. And unlike pensioners in thirty years' time, today's pensioners are rather well off (again, generally speaking). The Tories have made a point of trying to take care of this demographic, lest they upset another set of voters. (At the other end of the spectrum, most young people don't vote Tory, so naturally the Conservatives don't give a stuff about them. Those that do vote Tory tend to hate themselves for doing so.) The average age of a Conservative party member is 68, and getting older. Perhaps it's time they stopped treating young people so harshly.
Business types are frequently cited as the bread and butter (or tea and scones) of the Tory vote. Money-makers, naturally are motivated to make more of it, and think nothing, perhaps, of wider society and its problems. These same sorts of people might invest in stocks and shares, and regard the Tories as the party of the market (a claim I'm sure they'd happily agree with). Essentially this means that business sorts, pensioners and chinless old Earl Hector Forace-Welb are voting for the Conservatives out of self-interest. Yes, they merely want to look after their own. Yes, now we are getting somewhere. David Cameron (he used to be prime minister) even admitted this was why a tax haven clampdown would be a bad idea, if their own donors would be affected. It's selfishness writ large and shamelessly put on display.
Self-made people, again likely to be monied and with good pensions, and possibly a few quid in those pesky tax havens, are destined to be Tory voters. However it looks like Brexit has stirred a few City types and employers to question whether the Tories can still claim to be the party of business, although George Osborne's stupendously inept handling of the economy won't have helped matters. Yet still City sorts flock in their striped suits to the Tories. Money rules. Which is the same thing as saying selfishness rules.
The Conservatives are also very much the party of the past, (isn't that what they're trying to conserve?). And the past was a different place and everyone was happy and no one starved, the poor deserved it and everyone went to church, both rich and poor alike. And so we come to religion. The Tories love a bit of religion, or rather, they love a lot of it. And in many instances it's difficult to see where they end and the Church of England begin. But with immigration and other faiths now part of wider society they encourage others to be proud of their faith (whilst ignoring those who have no faith at all). To that end they encourage faith schools, allow the state church exemptions from laws it doesn't like, and generally ensure that religion can never be merely a private act, but a public duty. How this is supposed to benefit a society made up of people of belief and non-belief is a mystery, but it's best not to look too closely, because the cracks are there for all to see. The Tories even appointed a minister for faith (take a bow, Sayeeda Warsi), and it was fitting that she had no mandate, she being a slice of unelected fodder from the Lords, a place where religion comes with the fittings. I did have a look around to try and find out who the minister for non-faith was, but alas I had no luck.
I suppose if you're a poor young suburban atheist you're destined never to vote for the party in blue (I'm three of those four things). And speaking of the poor, what about the people who live in deprived areas and still insist on voting for the Conservatives, what drives them to such lunatic acts? I had to do a spot of research into this one, because I just couldn't get my head around it, and according to some quarters, the poor reckon that the Tories will be the ones to lift them out of the spot of trouble they find themselves in. Yes, I am being serious. It is believed the values the Tories hold dear are the exactly the right values to get the poor back on their bare feet. Turkeys voting for Christmas? I suppose some people might think that rock bottom is as bad as it can get. But then if the motivation is personal betterment, then that's a classic Tory 'value'; not the betterment of society.
In the end I came back to political theory. It's because the left holds that society still exists, and that we're not all a bunch of autonomous capitalist consumers, that I support them. The left holds itself to a higher standard than the right has ever done. At its best Labour should ensure a robust egalitarian society. Left to the Tories, we'd all be classed, defined even, as consumers. An online critic of mine said that the left don't understand human nature, and that the Tories do, but I think that analysis is totally wrong; the Tories just appeal to a selfish, grasping, flimsy side of human nature. Labour thinks much bigger - it wants to take care of everyone in society and treat them equally, and not just the City, the old, the financially endowed and the pious. Labour's vision towers over the Tory one and casts the sort of unifying shadow the Tories will never be able to grasp.
Max Webster is the Editor of Political Provocateur