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Johnson’s thumping win an electoral lesson in not just having policies, but knowing how to sell them

Simon Tormey writes in The Conversation (14.12.19) about the Conservatives’ comfortable UK election victory, suggesting that British voters may be in for a rude shock when they realise Boris Johnson has a much tougher and more conservative agenda in store than many assumed.

‘So, for all the talk of narrowing polls, tactical voting, and possible shocks leading to a hung parliament, Boris Johnson achieved a crushing victory over Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in the UK’s general election of 2019. With an 80 or so seat majority in the House of Commons, Johnson can now deliver on his core promise to “get Brexit done”.

‘He can also shape the broader social and economic environment in tune with the instincts of those around him. They are, almost to a man and a woman, hard-right libertarian figures with a barely concealed contempt for the welfare state, the National Health Service, social benefits and all the other elements that compose the post-war consensus.

‘One of the tricks Johnson managed to pull off in this election was to paint himself as a saviour of public services, and and a leader untarnished by ten years of Tory austerity policies. The British public is in for a rude awakening when it finds out Johnson’s brand of rambling One Nation populism was a cover for a much tougher and more conservative agenda than many voters realise.

‘So the puzzle that many commentators are trying to figure out is, how it is that a right wing figure of this kind could get one over on Corbyn who pitched his entire campaign on the promise to protect the health service and promote public ownership of key sectors such as the railways and the post office?’

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