The Budget: It's Time Hammond Took His Own Advice | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

The Budget: It’s Time Hammond Took His Own Advice

Comment Writer Rahim Mohamed argues that the 2017 Autumn Budget has done nothing to alleviate the stereotype attached to the Conservative party

My initial observations of the Autumn 2017 Budget were less economics related, and more to do with politics.

To put it more plainly, the Conservative Party’s continual failure to change their reputation as a party for the traditional, white middle-class is holding them back.

As I watched Hammond’s speech, I couldn’t help but notice the diversity of ethnicities sitting on the Labour Party front and back benches, especially when compared to their Conservative Party counterparts.

The middle class is undergoing a transformation

I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Tories have developed a reputation as the party for the middle-class, and the middle-class has traditionally been dominated by white people.

At the extreme, they have had to contend with accusations of racism; an issue that David Cameron was keen to solve on the back of the 2010 General Election results in which ‘the Conservative Party only won 16% of the ethnic minority vote.’

However, it was reported in 2016 that the middle class is undergoing a transformation; more people from ethnic minorities are attaining higher managerial and professional jobs and making into Oxbridge.

Why then, is this growing presence of ethnic minorities in the middle-class not translating into better representation in the Conservative Party?

It is easy to paint a picture that suggests that the Tories are more adept at managing the economy

During the Budget announcement, Hammond chose to use a peculiar set of words to introduce the OBR’s economic forecasts: ‘this is the bit with the long, economicky words.’  Initially, this amused me.  On reflection, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Now I can only speculate as to why he chose to say this.  Perhaps he was looking to introduce some humour to ease himself into delivering a Budget which many predicted that his career depended on.  Or perhaps this was a condescending jibe aimed towards Labour, something along the lines of: ‘we are the Conservative Party, we know how to manage the economy, leave this game that you know nothing about to the big boys.’

The Tories rightfully have grounds for lauding aspects of their economic management; after all, they have presided over an economy that has seen Britain’s unemployment fall to a 42-year low.

Add to this the worrying lack of economic nous that was displayed by the Labour Party in the lead-up to the UK General Election earlier this year – most prominently, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott’s meltdown when it came to discussing the maths behind the increased police presence that Labour would finance. It is easy to paint a picture that suggests that the Tories are more adept at managing the economy.

However, there is a way of going about painting this picture that the Tories seem to insist on pursuing.  A way that portrays them in an arrogant light, incapable of communicating in a manner that resonates with those who choose to stereotype them as a party.

Claiming, as Hammond did in the run-up to the Budget, that ‘there are no unemployed people’ as a way of making a point just won’t cut it.

The Tories lost their majority in the last UK General Election.  To avoid an even greater loss at the next one, they need to do two things: find an answer to the lack of ethnic representation at the top level of the party. They must do away with the complacency and find a way to introduce that missing element of empathy into their rhetoric.

Hammond began his Budget by calling for us to ‘embrace the future’ and not ‘reject change and turn inwards to the failed and irrelevant dogmas of the past’ like the Labour Party are doing.

I suggest that Hammond takes his own advice and looks within his own party first.

Postgraduate student studying Political Science at the University of Birmingham


21st December 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

Raul Mee