‘If Darlington high street isn’t visibly better in four years’ time, we’ll be in trouble’, one of Boris Johnson’s confidants told me the other day. Boris Johnson and his team are, as I say in The Sun this morning, acutely away that if they are going to make Thursday night’s electoral shift permanent then they are going to have to deliver for those places that swung to the Tories in this election.
Part of Boris Johnson’s answer will be improving the infrastructure serving these places. In his interview with The Spectator during the campaign, he indicated that he was going to rip up the Treasury’s rules on capital spending to ensure that more gets built outside of London and the South East. But, as I write in the magazine this week, some of these infrastructure projects will take time to deliver. That’s why we should also expect to see some pump-priming and other things designed to deliver an immediate boost to these areas.
The politics of this government will be defined by the common ground that the new administration believes exists. They think that Westminster is far too obsessed with whether a policy is left-wing or right-wing, when that is not how most voters view the world. So, Johnson will both increase spending on the NHS and take a tougher line on crime.
This campaign has seen the Tories forge a new electoral coalition. But Downing Street is acutely aware that many people only ‘lent’ the Tories their vote to ‘get Brexit done’ or keep Corbyn out. So, this government must show them that life is better under the Conservatives if it is to make this realignment of British politics permanent.