We’re ask­ing a New Gen­er­a­tion for pas­sion­ate Con­ser­va­tive so­lu­tions

Why we are launch­ing a ma­jor project to show­case the tal­ent, en­ergy and the ideas of the cen­tre-Right

The Sunday Telegraph - - Sunday Comment - MAU­RICE SAATCHI & GRA­HAM BRADY

Pol­i­tics is a bat­tle of ideas. And at the mo­ment, the wrong ideas are win­ning. The Bri­tish peo­ple think that busi­ness can’t be trusted. That the free mar­ket isn’t work­ing. That the rich get richer, and the rest get screwed. That is why, rather than be­ing ter­ri­fied at the prospect of a hard-Left gov­ern­ment, many of them ac­tively wel­come it – to the point where at the last elec­tion, Jeremy Cor­byn was only 2,227 votes from power.

For Con­ser­va­tives, it can be tempt­ing to blame this sit­u­a­tion on a par­tic­u­lar politi­cian, or a par­tic­u­lar man­i­festo. But that would be wrong.

Ever since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, anger and frus­tra­tion have been on the rise. Vot­ers who have never known a pre-Thatcher gov­ern­ment, or even a pre-Blair one, are con­clud­ing that they will never have it as good as their par­ents – just higher debt, stag­nant wages and pre­cious lit­tle chance of get­ting on to the prop­erty lad­der.

Those younger vot­ers, who do not re­mem­ber life in the 1970s, will not be swayed by our point­ing out how bad things were back then, or list­ing all the many ways in which Con­ser­va­tive ideas have made Bri­tain a far bet­ter place over those years, un­der a suc­ces­sion of prime min­is­ters.

They want to be in­spired – to be told how their prob­lems will be fixed, even if at the back of their minds they know that Jeremy Cor­byn is far from a mes­siah.

On en­ter­ing Down­ing Street, the Prime Min­is­ter spoke bril­liantly about the need to build a coun­try that works for ev­ery­one – to com­bat in­equal­ity, in­jus­tice and un­fair­ness. It was an in­spir­ing vi­sion that any Con­ser­va­tive would be proud to en­dorse.

Yet many on the Left in­sist, in­creas­ingly loudly, that the free mar­ket, and cap­i­tal­ism, work only for the rich. That Labour are the good­ies and the Tories the bad­dies. That the en­ergy and ideas are now on the Left, while the Right are the de­fend­ers of a dis­cred­ited sta­tus quo, a party of book-keep­ing rather than in­spi­ra­tion.

This phe­nom­e­non is not just present in Bri­tain. This po­lit­i­cal cul­ture war is rag­ing across the West. So how do we fight back?

The an­swer is that we’ve done it be­fore. In 1974, Mar­garet Thatcher and Keith Joseph founded the Cen­tre for Pol­icy Stud­ies to ac­com­plish, as she put it, “the re­vival of the phi­los­o­phy and prin­ci­ples of a free so­ci­ety”. The task was not just to prop­a­gate the right poli­cies – which it did – but to se­cure their ac­cep­tance. To make the case for a state that would be the ser­vant of the peo­ple rather than its mas­ter.

To­day, many things have changed. Rather than un­tram­melled union power or un­ac­count­able na­tion­alised in­dus­tries, the great eco­nomic chal­lenges are to do with au­to­ma­tion and glob­al­i­sa­tion. In some ar­eas, crony cap­i­tal­ism has be­come as much of a prob­lem as big gov­ern­ment. It is deeply ironic that the most press­ing is­sue fac­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion, the hous­ing cri­sis, is of­ten de­scribed as a case of mar­ket fail­ure, when in fact the hous­ing and plan­ning sys­tem has never al­lowed a well-func­tion­ing mar­ket to op­er­ate in the first place.

The chal­lenge fac­ing the CPS, and oth­ers, is to meet the chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tury with the same zeal­ous spirit that Joseph and Thatcher did back then. To show the pub­lic that we know how to fix the prob­lems they face. To ex­plain why Con­ser­va­tive so­lu­tions can help. To come up with so­lu­tions that are as ap­peal­ing, and en­cap­su­late our prin­ci­ples as per­fectly, as the sale of coun­cil houses back in the 1980s.

That is why we are launch­ing a ma­jor project, “New Gen­er­a­tion”, to show­case the tal­ent, the en­ergy and the ideas on the cen­tre-Right.

We are ask­ing the MPs of the 2015 and 2017 in­takes – and other fresh voices – to give us their own ideas for mak­ing Bri­tain bet­ter. Even as the Gov­ern­ment is en­gaged in the mon­u­men­tal, and nec­es­sary, task of steer­ing Bri­tain through the Brexit process, these new voices will be com­ing up with the fresh think­ing to move the po­lit­i­cal agenda for­ward into the 21st cen­tury, rather than back­wards to the 1970s.

Al­ready, we have been ex­traor­di­nar­ily en­cour­aged by the va­ri­ety of ideas, and the pas­sion with which they are be­ing put for­ward. Fol­low­ing the launch to­mor­row, at which Am­ber Rudd will be the key­note speaker, we will be rolling out a se­ries of re­ports and events. Rishi Su­nak has pro­duced a pre-Bud­get pro­posal on how to make it eas­ier for small busi­nesses to ac­cess the cap­i­tal they need to in­vest and ex­pand. Chris Philp is pub­lish­ing a de­tailed, ex­ten­sively re­searched pa­per on how to in­crease both house build­ing and home own­er­ship – a topic on which many other mem­bers of this New Gen­er­a­tion have an aw­ful lot to say.

Maria Caulfield – who com­bines her work in Par­lia­ment with shifts as an NHS nurse – will be chan­nelling a ca­reer’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ence into her work on health. Luke Gra­ham will be writ­ing about how Holy­rood and West­min­ster can make de­vo­lu­tion work bet­ter for Scot­land.

Bim Afo­lami will tackle the ob­sta­cles to growth. Matt War­man, Alan Mak and oth­ers will be ad­dress­ing the ways in which tech­nol­ogy is trans­form­ing our so­ci­ety and econ­omy. And that’s be­fore we even get on to Ben Howlett’s plan to make Bri­tain the cen­tre of the ge­nomics rev­o­lu­tion.

If we are to save Bri­tain from a Cor­byn gov­ern­ment, the case for the mar­ket needs to be made once again. Not just with slo­gans, but by the kind of con­crete, prac­ti­cal, as­pi­ra­tional poli­cies that these politi­cians, and the many oth­ers who are en­gag­ing with this project, are pro­duc­ing.

Con­ser­va­tive ideas and Con­ser­va­tive poli­cies have helped make Bri­tain a bet­ter place. Now is not the time for us to lose faith in our be­liefs – but to show why, and how, they can meet the chal­lenges of this tur­bu­lent era.

‘If we are to save Bri­tain from a Cor­byn gov­ern­ment, the case for the mar­ket needs to be made again’

Lord Saatchi is Chair­man of the Cen­tre for Pol­icy Stud­ies. Gra­ham Brady is Chair­man of the 1922 Com­mit­tee and Deputy Chair­man of the Cen­tre for Pol­icy Stud­ies

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