Early on Tuesday afternoon the final incantation of a long prepared spell was ceremoniously pronounced. An old prophet, scarred from his previous attempts, now looked triumphant. He stood amongst a crowd of rapturous supporters, and, staring through cameras out at the nation, brought an old beast back to life. Iain Duncan Smith was on the stage, and the working class Tory was flexing its muscles once more.
Nobody quite noticed when it happened, but some time in the last few decades working class Conservatism seemed to fade and die. Subsumed by an ever-growing public sector, Labour was sucking in employees and generating a faithful caste of voters. As big business took over the business agenda, what was once a dominant voter group was becoming remarkably insignificant. The Tory Conference this week seemed to be a wholesale effort at reinvigorating this once mighty force.
IDS’s dynamic universal credit is the step that really cements this revival. From its implementation some time in 2013 some of the 4.4 million people who been on benefits without a day’s work since Labour came to power will finally be able to afford employment. The paperwork and complexity of welfare will be stripped down and remoulded into a single system, removing the fear brought on by welfare’s historic opacity. Their lives will undoubtedly be improved, and they will have a Tory government to thank for it.
Private sector employees are always more likely to be Conservative anyway, but this government seems unsatisfied to rely on such simple probability. It is funding business start-ups to the tune of £2000, and hopes to create some ten thousand new businesses this way within a year. It has slashed corporation tax for small businesses, relieved them of national insurance costs in target regions, and is using welfare reform to supply a new pool of willing labour. If it succeeds, then it will have ten thousand safe new Conservative votes. While Labour was able to build its voting bloc by hiring people into its philosophy, Cameron’s Conservatives hope to build a new demographic of naturally blue voters.