I wrote to Nick Boles just after he was elected MP. I wanted to test him. I pointed out that he has a simple choice to make: to serve his party or his constituents, but to understand that he can’t do both. If he replies, I thought, we’ll get a bit of a clue about what he’s made of.
He did reply, and I must confess I wasn’t too surprised with his answer. He indicated the best way to serve constituents was through his party. The “great statesman” Disraeli would have been delighted, for it was he who admonished one of his junior colleagues with: “Damn your principles. Stick to your party.” (see ‘Who Runs This Place’ by Anthony Sampson p.46). Either Mr Boles was showing the naïveté of his youth, I thought, or his eye is firmly fixed on the bigger prize.
The report in the Journal of his recent public meeting in Grantham inclines me more towards the latter possibility. I’m sure this young man with his made-for-TV smile has a big future.
The fact that just about every opinion he expressed would be detrimental to our town has nothing to do with his Tory allegiance – he would have said more or less the same stuff if he belonged to a serving “new” Labour government too. After all, “new” Labour far exceeded the right wing policies of Thatcher – which took a bit of doing.
‘Growth’, of the sort Mr Boles seems to have in mind, is the very last thing Grantham needs. I do not share his vision of transforming our town into some sort of corporate shopping mall staffed by 15,000 people from his new unwanted housing gulags fighting the traffic jams to work like slaves for minimum wages. Mr Boles seems to think this spectacle will be attractive to tourists, who might also divert their attention from the identikit retail chains to go and gawp at the shrine of Thatcherism. What a terrific prospect for our town.
The very thing that makes Stamford, for example, more attractive to tourists than Grantham is the tiny, old, and unique shops that Mr Boles so disdains.
The bottom line is that none of these false prophets should be listened to anymore. The little credibility they once had has gone forever. Together they created the economic cataclysm that has blighted our country – a cataclysm from which a tiny handful of their powerful mates have made huge fortunes and for which future generations will be expected to pay. None of these people can be trusted to un-create it.
Mr Boles seems to expect us to believe that more of the same cynical economic policy that got us into this mess is the very job to get us out. He could not be more wrong.
Radical change is desperately needed.