Elements of this thinking are clearly informing the “levelling-up” agenda that the Johnson government has sworn to deliver for the less affluent parts of Britain. How that will be changed – for changed it surely will be – by the coronavirus crisis we cannot yet be fully sure. This is an interesting book with stimulating arguments, but it is currently the fate of anyone writing about politics to know that their thoughts will be less influential in shaping society than a microbe.
But this is an important book that describes the worldview that, for now, is running the country. What is missing is the more political drama of how Tories like Timothy came to take over the party and what the balance of forces between the different factions looks like. But as Timothy evidently still has another chapter of his own political career ahead of him that will have to wait for his memoirs.
Most of this book must have been written before the 2019 election, when conservatism indeed looked in crisis. Although Timothy is fated for ever to be linked with May, his arguments have been either pinched or pre-empted by Boris Johnson. May’s and Johnson’s messages — “a Britain for everyone” and “levelling-up” — were almost identical, but it was Boris’s brio that made the difference. Political ideas are important, but so is bombast.