Time to make the Tory party Conservative again
Publication: The Daily Telegraph (London)
Byline By: Priti Patel
Date: May 30, 2019 Thursday
Time to make the Tory party Conservative again; We need a leader who stands for free markets and toughness on crime, not soulless managed decline
The Conservative Party is in danger of tearing itself apart and taking the country with it.
Divisions on Brexit, the disintegration of collective Cabinet responsibility and the failure to advance a strong Conservative agenda have combined to leave us in a dire state. We are in government but not governing.
While all of this is going on, the public are becoming disillusioned with our democratic political institutions and our party risks becoming irrelevant.
The EU election results were not just a warning shot or a wake-up call, but a profound turning point in the political crisis we have found ourselves in. Everything has changed and the Conservative Party must change too or face a generation or more out of government. The stakes couldn’t be higher: we need a renaissance in our democracy and inspiring new leadership, not a reboot of the soulless managed decline of our country and party that we have endured over the past few years.
All of the authors of this crisis must therefore leave the stage and make way for new faces, not only at the top of the party but throughout government.
We must also get back to being in touch with the people who elect us and who we should be proud to serve. Put simply, we urgently need leadership committed to the fundamental values of Conservatism: freedom, enterprise and opportunity. It is time to make the Conservative Party Conservative again.
Our party is at its strongest when it is in tune with the hopes and aspirations of Britain’s hard-working, law-abiding majority, and when it governs through clear Conservative principles. Whether it was in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, the 1950s under Churchill and Macmillan or in the early days of the Cameron administration, when our party has spoken with the people we have won.
And when we win, we can deliver positive change rather than sit on the sidelines and watch socialists wreck our nation. The country’s recovery from the Second World War in the 1950s, national revival in the 1980s and getting the public finances under control from 2010 while delivering record numbers of jobs did not happen by accident. They came about because of clear leadership based on core Conservative values.
Today, the public can see that we have lost our way and have become detached from the concerns and priorities of hardworking people. The tax burden is at a 50-year high, crime is rising while offenders are being released early, the young cannot buy their own homes and people worry about the future of our public services. We also seem to have lost the self-confidence to argue the case for Conservatism against a resurgent Left.
So we need to show that we have a vision for the future of the country and a roadmap to get there. That means resolving our differences over Brexit and taking the UK out of the EU at the earliest opportunity. We should fully respect the referendum result and welcome the democratic and political freedoms that come from leaving the EU. That will help restore some of the trust that has been lost.
But being relevant and effective in government requires us to do more than take the UK out of the EU’s political control. We must go back to championing our beliefs in low taxes, free markets, the rule of law, property ownership and choice.
As the party that believes in economic freedom and low taxes, it is scandalous that we have presided over the tax burden rising for hardworking families and businesses. While it is right that we control the public finances and live within our means, families and businesses are struggling.
So we need to enact an ambitious programme to cut, reform and simplify taxes so people can keep more of what they earn. Putting more money into the pockets of families will help them with the rising cost of living, while reducing the tax burden on business will help foster the entrepreneurial spirit of those who want to start-up or grow their own companies.
We also need to take tough action on crime and do more to support victims. Crime and violence are a threat to the freedom and liberty people should enjoy and to our orderly way of life.
Too many communities are living in fear as violent crime rises. So we need to reform our justice system to keep our streets safe and protect the law-abiding majority. That means putting an end to soft sentences and punishing offenders by keeping them behind bars so that the public can be protected and the offenders can be rehabilitated.
The challenges of delivering more housing so people can enjoy the benefits of home ownership and improving standards and choice in public services can also be met with a strong Conservative policy agenda.
In the days and weeks ahead, a succession of leadership contenders will be making their pitches to Conservative MPs and members. What our party and the country needs is fresh new leadership that will rejuvenate Conservatism, connect with the people and deliver freedom, enterprise and opportunity for all.