Updated: Dec 21, 2021
As 2021 draws to a close, Professor Matt Goodwin provides us with his quarterly analysis on the state of British politics and the Prime Minister’s alarming fall from grace with those who helped propel him into Downing Street in 2019.
What exactly has happened? Professor Goodwin looks behind the headlines to the deeper, underlying changes now taking place in British politics and Boris Johnson's failure to consolidate support among his new-found coalition of voters:
"Forget what people say. The realignment was never just about Brexit or the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn, even if these elements helped it along. It was always rooted for far more strongly in a deep and profound disillusionment with the political consensus that has dominated Britain for half a century. EU membership. Mass immigration. Hyper-globalisation. Radical cultural liberalism. And a politics built by middle-class graduates for middle-class graduates.
Johnson’s electoral dynamite always came from the fact that he was the first mainstream politician to offer a genuine break from that consensus: to leave the EU, strengthen the country’s borders and level-up a forgotten blue-collar Britain. And this is why he was able to completely transform the Conservative Party’s electorate along the way.
It is why he won three-quarters of the Leave vote. It is why he demolished one flank of the Red Wall and left another vulnerable. It is why he mobilised a new coalition of voters who are spread across the country far more efficiently than Labour’s voters who are concentrated too heavily in big cities and university towns. And it is why he had an almost 20-point lead over Labour among the Greggs Guys — Britain’s plumbers, mechanics and factory workers who, like the True-Blue Tories in the south, rallied behind Johnson because they believed he offered a genuine alternative to our dreary politics.
But what Shropshire and the polls tell us, clearly, is that today, though, many of these voters are reaching a very different conclusion: their gamble on Johnson simply has not paid off. Between all the talk about net zero, tax rises and trying to be all things to all voters, he is adrift from the coalition that propelled him to power. Since the aftermath of his victory in 2019, the share of Johnson’s voters who plan to vote for him again has crashed from 95% to 73%."
Only by re-connecting with those who put him there in the first place will Johnson have a chance.