The sale of Wembley Stadium is a missed opportunity for the Tories!
Defending the home of England football would have gone down great with the Tories new working class base
The sale of Wembley Stadium has received little coverage since the announcement was made that Fulham FC owner Shahid Khan had made an offer of £900 million to purchase the home of England football. Labour’s Justin Madders had presented the Prime Minister with the perfect opportunity during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions to reinforce her party’s new found position as the party of the working class, as more working class voters now back Labour than the Tories. She appeared to blow it quite spectacularly.
That is a decision for the owners of Wembley. That is a private matter; it is not a matter for the government.
Theresa May, Prime Minister
Now, I understand the free-market response to this, which in most circumstances I’d support whole-heartedly, but the sale of Wembley Stadium touches on a different area; culture. Notwithstanding the fact that the Government didn’t make this claim when £160 million of taxpayers money was plowed into building it, the home of England football is precisely that, and to treat this matter with such detachment illustrates how little Theresa May understands the new-found supporters in her ranks.
Arguably the single most important debate on the right of politics right now is between traditional and liberal conservatives, who fundamentally disagree on the extent to which the free-market should be allowed to operate. The liberal conservatives broadly believe that markets work best and seek to understand and implement the conditions under which those markets can best operate.
The traditionalists, accepting somewhat reluctantly in the words of Sir Roger Scruton, the free market, take a more Burkean perspective, arguing that the free-market works on a priori grounds and that Government, in the pursuit of what Burke called “the lower duty”, namely the regulation and micromanagement of private life, would invariably fail in the higher duty, which broadly consists of defence of the realm and maintaining public order.
However, the traditionalists have always maintained that there are areas of life too important to be subjected to the market; marriage, the family and to a large extent culture. There is no doubt that the Conservative’s new found supporters would be far more sympathetic to the traditionalists than the liberals.
The sale of Wembley Stadium was a perfect opportunity to galvanise the Tories working class support. By preventing the sale of Wembley Stadium, Theresa May would no doubt have received glorious write-up’s in the Tabloids, possibly with the exception of The Guardian – an extra bonus. She could have portrayed herself as the defender of working-class culture. For many working-class Englishmen, to turn the home of England football into the English home of American Football makes as much sense as turning Westminster Abbey into a Synagogue.
This is not a battle between collectivism and the free market, it’s a battle between those who believe British culture is worth paying for and those who believe it is not. Theresa May should opt for the former, it appears she will opt for the latter.