Stop disloyal, self-absorbed plotting . . . or we’ll have a Marxist PM
A blistering intervention from the former Prime Minister who’s filled with dismay
IHAVE watched the Conservative Party manoeuvrings of recent weeks with increasing dismay and have been saddened to see the news dominated by those who have been driven by their own personal agenda.
Their behaviour does nothing to repair the battered reputation of politics. It is not what our country wants or needs – nor does it serve it well. Politics is not a game. Government even less so. Their conduct has undermined their own party, their own Prime Minister, and their own Government. It is profoundly unbecoming and it must stop.
It is apparent – even four years out – that the Conservatives face a real challenge in winning the next Election.
I am among those who remember the far- Left influence on Labour governments in t he 1960s and 1970s: the over-mighty unions; the strikes; the winter of discontent; the sky-high taxes.
Thus, for me, the concept of a Labour government led by two convinced neo-Marxists is the return of a nightmare.
And if Labour were elected, no voter could say that they were unaware of the likely priorities of a Jeremy Corbyn government, for Mr Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have already spelled out the disaster they would inflict.
Mr McDonnell has been admirably frank. Born out of his distaste for the free market, his economic plans would be pure poison to any hope of prosperity. As for Mr Corbyn, his entire career has showcased his convictions: his admiration for revolutionary causes and unsavoury leaders are part of his political DNA. He holds to his views with honesty and sincerity, but they do not represent middle-of-theroad voters – nor any but a small handful of Britons.
I do not wish to see any sort of Labour government – although a tilt to the Left or Right is always in the nature of politics – but I recoil from the prospect of a Corbyn-led government.
For the Conservative Party to gain a fourth successive term, we need to win back hearts and minds that are – at present – lost to us. No one is attracted to a divided party, nor one that is in thrall to its most reactionary instincts. The party must widen its appeal and the Prime Minister’s clarion call for social justice – delivered as she first entered No 10 and again at the party conference last week – clearly set out a programme that, if implemented, can and will change perceptions and reengage the millions who have turned away from us.
We must embrace and build upon policies that help them. It would be fatal not to do so.
Such policies will not be easy to deliver. But to explore them and to implement them is the right thing to do. Right for our party, and – most of all – right for our country.
We must be ambitious. Deeprooted problems need more than a piecemeal, timid, toe-in-the-water approach that might one day offer improvements. We need brave solutions. Our plans must engage government and private sector alike. We need to involve faster and better public investment. We need to widen and accelerate educational reform. And we must demonstrate a clear priority for the interests of the ‘have-nots’.
I hope such a programme will include a review of universal credit, which, although theoretically impeccable, is operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving. It is time for the Conservative Party to show its heart again, which is all too often concealed by its financial prudence. We are not living in normal times and must challenge innate Conservative caution.
Barring the unexpected, we are soon to leave the often frustrating – but now familiar and generally comfortable – embrace of the European Union and quite possibly, for the first time in our history, face the prospect of a neo-Marxist government.
I am therefore not simply advocating a change of tone by the Government, but swift and comprehensive action to correct problems that must not be left to fester.
Is such radical action necessary? Without a doubt. Will it involve some risk? Yes. Will it work? We must make it work.
‘People, people, people,’ must be our focus. Every individual’s wellbeing must be at the forefront of our own conscience and policy.
We must persuade the Treasury that – while the cost of longterm borrowing is low – there is an opportunity to vastly acceler-
Labour plans would be pure poison to prosperity
A political revolution is needed to end despair Focus on the people, not personal ambitions
ate public development of infrastructure and, in particular, housing. Useful initiatives have been announced but we need to go further. If this increases public debt we should – and could – accept that (as I believe the markets will) provided annual revenue expenditure is kept under control.
An essential ingredient is for the frustrating delays in planning law to be speeded up.
To house our nation better, we must unshackle the private sector. We must ensure that the windfall gains from planning approval are shared fairly between the vendor and the community.
Many education reforms are under way; that is excellent. But we must move faster and further to skill the next generation. All our talents will be needed for us to thrive in a competitive world.
And to help with re-skilling, Conservatives should actively encourage the same social cachet for blue-collar workers that has hitherto been given to white-collar professionals.
The lack of this is one of the worst legacies of a class-conscious Britain. It is out of date and must be cast aside. Government should make apprenticeships yet more attractive for employers and trainees alike.
And we should have no fear of breaking down any remaini ng taboos that inhibit the young or the old or minority groups from acquiring new skills. We must look for hope and opportunity for them all. It is a scandal that so much experienced talent is lying fallow.
Both radical and moderate Conservatives should all favour a programme whose primary focus is to help individuals and families the length and breadth of the UK.
We must not let ideology get in the way of common sense. Nor must we hesitate to engage the State in this cause.
I have set out only the bare bones of the action we need. The Government should invite the most original and creative minds to help flesh out the ideas and enact them.
The need for this political revolution is manifold: to end perceived unfairness; to accelerate decision-making; to improve productivity; and to allow hope to triumph over despair in the lives of too many who have fallen behind – and far more who wish to look with confidence towards their future.
We need not be caught up in a spiral of caution and fear when, by our own efforts, we can encourage opportunity and optimism. The Conservative Party has to regain the affection and support of young and old, North and South, East and West – and this can never be achieved while we restrict ourselves only to the drumbeat of ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit’.
The issue of Europe may obsess some but it has never been the principal concern of the public.
Every Conservative must recognise that Labour’s shortcomings alone will not deliver an Election victory to us. It is time for us to wake up and smell the coffee.
Our party’s support is ageing. Our policies are not attracting enough of the young, millions of whom believe the decision to leave Europe has damaged their future, for which they blame us.
The reactionary element of our Right- wing repels more electors than it enthuses.
Many people in our country – especially t hose who have fallen behind – are disillusioned, angry, and fearful over what the future holds in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world. Speculation over who has which ministerial job – and when – is of absolutely no consequence to those whose money runs out before the end of each week.
The British people are sick and tired of the navel-gazing that has dominated the news headlines, all of which has been deeply unedifying to behold.
An uneasy nation is crying out for the Government to speak for them. To act for them. To be seen to understand what is most important to them. To create the circumstances in which they might feel more secure about the future of their families, their homes, their livelihoods. That must be the Government’s task.
The Prime Minister herself made a valiant effort to get this message across last week but was drowned out by a series of events – none of which was of her own making.
But, as Parliament returns tomorrow, I would urge all Conservative MPs to reflect very carefully on what is at stake.
The country has had enough of the self-absorbed and, frankly, disloyal behaviour we have witnessed over recent weeks.
It is time for the individuals concerned – both in Parliament and in Government – to focus their minds instead on the needs of the British people, rather than on their own personal ambition.
Were they to do so, our party, our Government and – most important of all – our country, would all be the better for it.
FORMER CONSERVATIVE PRIME MINISTER
SPEECHWRITERS FOR THERESA MAY