Michael Ancram, former Shadow Foreign Secretary (and scheduled speaker at a TFA fringe event in Blackpool) — has written a paper entitled “Still a Conservative”, in which he calls on the party to stop trashing its Thatcherite heritage, and to have the confidence to speak out on tax, crime, immigration and Europe.
Predictably, the press have reported this under the rubric “Tory splits”. And Central Office, rather ungraciously, has dismissed it as “A blast from the past”. Not a bit of it. Michael is simply expressing the deeply-felt concerns of most Conservative members and activists. Yes, we presented too narrow an agenda in recent General Elections. Yes, we are right to talk more about soft issues and public services, about schools’n’hospitals. Yes, David Cameron was right to see the need to “decontaminate the Conservative brand”, and he deserves credit for doing so.
But at the same time we need to remember why we became Conservatives in the first place. We need to re-state our core beliefs so as to be relevant to the 21st century. Low taxes, small government and market mechanisms are still the way to go — and the way to deliver better public services. We need the courage to say so. Michael’s intervention is timely, and I applaud it.