The Government’s imperial measurement proposals seem to be part of their Operation Red Meat proposals to get Conservative MPs and supporters back on side. They were initially used to try to save former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and then used by the final two candidates in the Conservative leadership contest, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, to gain support from Conservative Party members to win the Conservative leadership contest and become the next Prime Minister.
Ed: Since the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II was announced, Metric Views took a break and paused the publication of new articles until the day after the Queen’s funeral as a mark of respect for the Queen. We now resume with the publication of a new article about the gap between the general public’s priorities and those of the Conservative Party’s members and core supporters. The Queen died on 8 September 2022 aged 96.
Boris Johnson’s plans to win back the support of Conservative MPs and supporters and secure his leadership were dubbed Operation Red Meat. The Government’s imperial measurement proposals were part of these plans. The Government published a biased document and held a sham consultation on these proposals, which closed on 26 August. You can read more about both at https://metricviews.uk/2022/07/11/how-to-respond-to-imperial-only-measurement-proposals/.
After Boris Johnson announced his resignation on 7 July 2022, a leadership contest took place to determine his successor. Several Conservative MPs ran for the leadership. The leadership contest involved several rounds of voting by Conservative MPs where the least popular candidate in each round was eliminated until there were two candidates left. Then a ballot of Conservative Party members took place to determine which of the final two candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, will become the next Conservative Party leader and PM.
The two final candidates discussed various Red Meat policies such as increasing defence spending to 3% of GDP, tax cuts, more grammar schools, union busting, cutting over 90 000 jobs from the Civil Service, giving GPs responsibility for cost-of-living help, fining patients for missing appointments, getting rid of all EU regulations, stopping the building of homes and onshore wind farms in the shires, nuclear button pushing, risking a trade war with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol and a crackdown on immigration.
These issues were obviously designed to appeal to Conservative Party members, whose support the final candidates would need to win the leadership contest. The Government’s plans to bring back imperial measures are also designed to appeal to their members and core supporters and is part of the Red Meat policy agenda. However, their priorities are not the same as the priorities of the general public. Among the public’s top concerns are the cost-of-living crisis, falling real wages, soaring energy bills and record NHS waiting lists.
On 5 September 2022, the results of the leadership contest were announced. Liz Truss won 81 326 (57.4%) votes of party members versus Rishi Sunak’s 60 399 (42.6%) votes. On the following day, HM Queen Elizabeth II invited Liz Truss to Balmoral Castle where she appointed her as her fifteenth Prime Minister and asked her to form a government.
The new PM will quickly recognise that the priorities of party members are different to the priorities of the general public. These Red Meat policies, including the imperial measurement proposals, are low on voters’ list of priorities. In recent weeks, the Conservatives have been sinking in the opinion polls and Operation Red Meat is not helping them. The Government’s imperial measurement proposals did not save Boris Johnson and it will not save his successor. Bringing back imperial measures is not high on the public’s list of priorities. If the Government thinks that these proposals are going to save them, they are deluded.