Voices Grassroots

James Cleverly MP – Stay positive and act fast

CLEVERLY JamesThe first thing that David Cameron should do is continue the tone and message that he delivered towards the end of the campaign and in his victory speech. He must prove that we do not need the Liberal Democrats to be a compassionate government. Voters trust us to make the tough choices that have helped get the economy back on track and unemployment down but just being seen as tough won’t be enough to win in 2020.

People voted for us with their heads. I’m no wet but I also want them to vote for us with their hearts.

My second ask is to make sure we don’t hang around. Labour, UKIP and the Lib Dems are going to spend the summer belly-button gazing and the SNP have a steep parliamentary learning curve. Let’s use that to our advantage by acting swiftly and decisively in the implementation of our manifesto.

Thirdly, let’s not limit our decisiveness to Westminster, we must get candidate selection and decisions about devolved powers sorted out well ahead of the Scottish and London elections next year. The results on the 7th show us that we cannot look at these as electoral side shows any more, they are staging posts for success in 2020.

Finally the PM should develop strong personal relationships with the people in the Conservative party who are likely to lead the Out campaign during the referendum. He must make sure that in delivering this important promise to the country we don’t end up with a fractured party.

James Cleverly is the newly elected MP for Braintree.


Cllr Sean Anstee – Give local government the power to make savings and drive growth

Sean AnsteeOver the last five years, local government has contributed significantly to necessary spending reductions and has cemented its place as the most efficient part of the public sector.

Despite all of the protestations to the contrary, councils have not collapsed and have instead demonstrated it is not solely the amount of money you spend, but how that money it is spent that really makes the difference.

It’s a well-trailed fact that satisfaction with local services went up during the last parliament and that local councils are trusted more by local people than Westminster.

David Cameron, supported by the excellent Greg Clark, can now capitalise on that trust and innovation and place local authorities at the heart of facilitating economic growth that benefits all and reforming public services.

All of the evidence suggests that when local government is freed from the shackles of regulation, targets and central diktats that it can succeed. We know that locally devised and delivered programmes are more successful than those issued from the centre.

But where the delivery of public services can be even better still is overcoming the lack of cohesion between the local authority and other public sector bodies operating in the same area. Despite five years of austerity for councils in Greater Manchester, overall public sector spending is still the same as it was in 2010 in our region as costs have been shunted – this can be avoided.

Local government has demonstrated its resilience and capability to take difficult decisions, in a sensible manner that reflects the needs of our communities. With more levers at its disposal and devolved power of a greater number of public services it can join up decision making, remove silos and integrate services.

David Cameron can make this happen – he shouldn’t shy away from doing so.

Sean Anstee is the Leader of Trafford Council.


Emily Barley – Close some Whitehall departments

Emily BarleyWhat I’d really love to see is the winding down of a few departments, starting with DCMS, DfID and BIS. The responsibilities that need to be retained should be passed on to other departments. And with the BBC’s charter up for renewal next year it’s a good time to think about whether it’s appropriate to have a state broadcaster in 2015 – I say not. It should be a gradual process, but its right to put us on the path to abolishing the Licence Fee now.

Things to keep up: tackling the deficit, Michael Gove’s excellent education reforms, and cutting taxes – the government should simplify the tax code too.

It’s a sensitive area, but I think it’s time to talk about how we do healthcare in this country. Agenda for Change, the tariff system and a whole raft of targets make it incredibly difficult for people in the NHS to innovate to meet patients’ needs. It wouldn’t be right to rush in to anything, but this government needs to think about how we make healthcare more patient-focussed, and how we can free clinicians up to better serve their patients. Right now we have layer upon layer of bureaucracy, and that’s bad for patients.

At Conservatives for Liberty, the Snooper’s Charter and changes to the Human Rights Act are making us nervous. We agree that there need to be changes in how Britain protects rights, but we’re worried that policy is taking an anti-freedom turn. British values are about tolerating Karl Marx writing about the overthrow of the state when the monarchies of Europe wanted his head; and a Conservative government should be protecting this important tradition of freedom, not eroding it.

Lastly: freedom of choice. No more nanny-state rubbish around tobacco, alcohol or sugar please! Adults can choose for themselves.

Emily Barley is the Chairman of Conservatives for Liberty.


Philip Booth – Create a federal United Kingdom

Philip BoothDavid Cameron should immediately propose a federal structure for the United Kingdom. Rather than the UK government handing down powers, the process should work in the other direction. The Rest of the UK (RUK) and Scotland should create a federation. If they wished, Wales and Northern Ireland could have the same status as Scotland, but it is unlikely they would want this. Only those functions that Scotland and RUK both agree should be handled at the UK level should be UK-wide functions. Ideally, this would be just defence, foreign policy, the management of the existing debt and possibly monetary policy and banking regulation. After all, we should remember that when the union was formed, the state did not do much more than defence. A UK parliament of 50 members should meet eight times a year. This parliament should levy a small, specific consumption tax to cover its functions.

Everything else would be handled at the level of Scotland and RUK, both of which would elect separate parliaments. Any further devolution (to Wales, Northern Ireland, regions, counties and cities) would be determined by the Scottish and RUK parliaments respectively – though the principle should be that the more devolution of both spending and tax-raising powers there is the better.

This structure will be stable; it will be popular in both England and Scotland; and it will lead to better economic outcomes. Such a federal structure deals entirely with the problem of unbalanced representation and the West Lothian question. It will allow Scotland to experiment with socialism if it wishes or, faced with the fact that it will eventually “run out of other people’s money”, it may reform and return to being the vibrant, economic powerhouse that it once was.

This proposal needs to be made immediately and fully enacted within four years.

Philip Booth is Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs.


Graeme Archer – Love-bomb Carswell and Clegg

Graeme ArcherObjective: kill off UKIP (as a Tory vote-sapping force), and finish the Lib Dem entity. Method: love bombs.

It is ludicrous that a man as principled, intelligent and articulate as Douglas Carswell is in UKIP. To me he’s a liberal, of the sort that should flourish in the centre-Right movement (in the way that Simon Hughes is not.) To expect him to rejoin the party he left just a few months ago is unreasonable, but space should be found for him on Tory-led committees and in Tory-led debates. I cannot believe he is happier with the deflating balloon of UKIP than he would be with our movement, and it would be worth some Conservative pride-swallowing to have him fight Clacton as a Tory again.

Very different politics but a similar label: Nick Clegg. Thanks to Mr Clegg we had five years of solid Tory-led government, the baseline for the victory leap of May 7th. He is in no sense a Tory but those of his instincts which overlap with ours – on state surveillance, for example – should be put to good use. I’m sure Mrs May’s new surveillance powers will finally come into being. The Lords – and many others – might feel more comfortable with this should there be an independent oversight committee of privy councillors, making sure that no quango, council, police chief or minister abuses the new access. I can’t think of a better liberal to lead such a task than Mr Clegg.

I’m not suggesting these love bombs to be “nice.” The wider our centre-Right tent, the more secure our majority. UKIP are a distraction, but the Lib Dems (neither liberal nor – cf boundary review – particularly democratic) kept us out of natural Tory territory for decades. Making a home for decent liberals within our wigwam seems a painless way to prevent this reoccurring.

Graeme Archer is a statistician, a former winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Blogging and a ConservativeHome columnists.


Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP – Kick-start the Northern Powerhouse

TREVELYAN Anne-MarieI commend the Prime Minister for making his first out-of-London visit to our region, having made our very own James Wharton MP a minister with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse.

This is a gritty policy agenda which needs to incorporate aggressive and speedy implementation of the Roads Strategy funding, such as dualling the A1 towards the Scottish Border; implement the Enterprise Zone for North Northumberland, so that business leaders looking to set up new factories have a clear framework within which to make investment decisions; and keep driving the apprenticeship programme so that every company can take on and train more of our energetic young school leavers to give them a strong future career.

We need to build on our Military Covenant commitment to support armed forces personnel returning to the North East. Many can get straight into civilian work, some set up their own business with help from organisations like X-Forces, but others have complex health needs for which our civilian NHS is not adequately prepared.

As an MP with one of the largest rural constituencies, it is imperative that this new Government ensure that decent broadband can reach every single property, by investing in long-term solutions which will sustain our villages into the digital 21st century.

And finally, in a quirk which I believe may be unique to my constituency, I urge this Government to provide mains electricity to several communities which are still off the grid. I have been campaigning alongside those families, the Northumberland National Park & MOD at Otterburn to provide a practical solution and I will be calling on Ministers to help us solve this once & for all.

I want us to drive innovation at every level, giving everyone the tools to succeed as individuals, families & businesses, and to protect our most vulnerable.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the newly elected MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Jonathan Isaby – Eliminate the deficit, and get radical on tax simplification

ISABY Jonathan David Cameron’s overriding priority has to be getting the nation living within its means once again. It is therefore incumbent on him and George Osborne to find and announce the savings which will see government expenditure reduced, meaning that the deficit can be cut and then eliminated altogether – because only then can they even start cutting the national debt.

I look forward to Matt Hancock continuing Francis Maude’s excellent work in tackling waste across central government, although there are some budget lines that ought to be cut out entirely. I trust that those inside Downing Street and the Treasury will now be reaching for their copies of the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Spending Plan, which sets out a whole range of fully costed ways in which to make those savings.

On the tax side, the Prime Minister will doubtless ensure that the Chancellor’s July Budget sets in motion manifesto commitments on the Personal Allowance and 40p threshold, as well as starting to reduce the burden of Inheritance Tax.

But there are two further things they should do.

Firstly, they should subject all proposed tax changes to dynamic modelling, which would demonstrate that tax cuts generally boost the economy, while tax rises tend to have the effect of choking off growth.

Secondly, they must embark on serious tax simplification. No-one I’ve met since the establishment of the Office of Tax Simplification feels that our labyrinthine tax code has got any simpler and public confidence in the tax system is surely at an all-time low. Now is the moment to start enacting the big changes which are required. They should start by merging National Insurance and Income Tax (see our proposal here) and take inspiration thereafter from The Single Income Tax proposals of our 2020 Tax Commission.

Jonathan Isaby is Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.


Professor Tim Bale – Work out what he wants his legacy to be, then tell us

BALE Tim‘The problems of victory’, Winston Churchill told the House of Commons in November 1942, ‘are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.’

As a pragmatist and a realist, David Cameron almost certainly realises this is the case. May 7th was a triumph – a vindication even. But the majority he won was narrow. And it doesn’t simply wash away all his problems. Indeed it makes some of them even worse.

The parliamentary party, for instance, may be easier to manage because jobs can be given to Tories rather than Lib Dems. But gratitude is one of politics’ most perishable commodities. And many Conservative ultras are about to discover that the reason they can’t get what they want (on climate change and energy policy, on welfare cuts, on immigration, on terrorism, on human rights, on grammar schools, on trade union reforms, and on EVEL/Scotland) has far less to do with their former coalition partners than it does with parliamentary, legal, international, and electoral realities.

The PM, one suspects, hardly needs anyone to tell him this. Or to remind him that his mandate is too small and shaky for him to hare off in the direction that some of his more zealous supporters (not least those who were busy sharpening their knives for him before his stunning victory) will demand. Whatever modernisation meant, it meant not departing too far, rhetorically at least, from the centre-ground.

With that in mind, what Mr Cameron needs to do now is to work out what, in his heart of hearts, he really wants as his legacy and then focus, laser-like, on that. It speaks volumes that so many of us still aren’t entirely sure what that ‘that’ actually is. Tell us, Prime Minister. Then get cracking. The clock’s already ticking.

Tim Bale is Professor of politics at Queen Mary’s University of London.


Amandeep Singh Bhogal – Make Parliament even more representative, and build links with the Anglosphere

 Amandeep Singh Bhogal Conservative activists across Britain, powered by Lynton Crosby’s simple messaging, a strong campaign and a stellar team have delivered a mandate of 331 shades of blue. A new, cool blue age of ‘Good Days’ is here and the skies of Westminster are no longer yellowed by the Liberal Democrats. The Prime Minister must continue to reform, restructure and rejuvenate to secure Britain’s future and firmly bury the red threat of Labour.

We should build upon the tremendous work of Lord Feldman in making our Party, and Parliament, better reflect society. On May 7th we stood a record total of 58 ethnic minority candidates, more female candidates than 2010 and myself standing as Northern Ireland’s first ever Sikh candidate. With the brilliant Robert Halfon now Deputy Chairman, our Party must continue to lead the charge for a more respected and representative Parliament.

Standing in Northern Ireland, I saw first-hand how sectarian politics is holding back the endless potential. An astonishing 72 per cent of the workforce is employed in the public sector. With Theresa Villiers reinstated, PM Cameron must drive forward Northern Ireland, with new private sector investment to create prosperity and ensure people have interdependent economic interests – in other words, something at stake.

A New Cool Blue Britannia must rejuvenate her relationship with the Commonwealth. There should be a renewed drive to pull together the Anglosphere, whether it is driving forward the TTIP with America or the Free Trade Agreement with India. London has far more in common with Ludhiana and Louisiana than Ljubljana. When Narendra Modi says ‘Make in India’ it should be ‘Designed in GB’.

Over the next 1800 days Cameron must continue the incredible work of last five years to ensure a job for every hand, a roof for every head and prosperity for everybody.

Amandeep Singh Bhogal was the Conservative candidate in Upper Bann.


David Skelton – Challenge and beat Labour in the North of England

SkeltonThe election was a tremendous result. We made headway in seats that were once seen as traditionally Labour, gaining Bolton West and substantially increasing our majority in seats like Harlow and Stockton South.

Now our task is to build on this success and to continue broadening our appeal to areas of the country where voting Conservative remains counter-cultural. There’s every sign that the party is on course to do that, with the appointment of Rob Halfon, the promotion of Greg Clark and Sajid Javid and the clear ambition of the Prime Minister to lead a ‘One Nation government’.

Labour are down on the canvas. We have to put our foot on their throat and keep them there. They’re rapidly losing touch in the North and Conservatives must take Labour on directly in these heartlands. Labour’s collapse in Scotland showed how quickly their support can evaporate.

How do we go about this? We need to continue to govern as a One Nation party, rather than a dogmatic one, pushing the Northern Powerhouse onwards to communities that have struggled since deindustrialisation. We need to be seen as the party of top quality education for the poorest communities; the party that creates the conditions for the provision of good, secure jobs; and as the party of the Living Wage. We have to develop the affordable housebuilding mission, spreading the promise of a ‘home of your own’. And we should continue broadening the party – aiming to have more MPs from state school and low income backgrounds.

Great swathes of the country are opening up as working class voters turn away from Labour. To make the most of this opportunity, we have to be driven by a moral mission to help the poorest, to spread the benefits of economic growth and to govern for all.

David Skelton is the Director of Renewal, a campaign to broaden the appeal of the Conservative Party.


Ryan Shorthouse – Implement modernisation 2.0, enriching society as well as managing the economy

Ryan ShorthouseKeep things together. First, the Union. Achieve further Scottish devolution, between the Smith Commission and full fiscal autonomy, whilst delivering English votes for English laws.

Second, keep Britain within the EU. The PM must trumpet and win a handful of significant reforms during renegotiation. Making migrants wait four years before accessing benefits is one of them.

Third, keep the Right together, ensuring those who have flirted with the Liberal Democrats and UKIP stay in the tent. That means continuing the same strategy, balancing the books and bolstering the economy as a reasonable leader with balanced policies.

Yes, see to unfinished business: boundary reform and improving human rights legislation. But the election was not a mandate to unleash red-blooded reforms on the welfare system or the BBC. Rather, it’s time to focus on modernisation 2.0: appealing to and supporting those on modest incomes, especially in urban areas and outside southern heartlands. Cue the Northern Powerhouse, getting more houses built, and rewarding workers with lower taxes and cheaper childcare.

Cameron will pursue his original passion: building a stronger society. He will want to complete welfare and education reforms in particular. Universal Credit must be rolled out nationally by 2020, but he should also make welfare more contributory. Stronger incentives for social investment and civic participation should also be prioritised.

Conservatives should be known for a firm but profoundly positive educational vision: failure, by staff or pupils, will become unacceptable, with poor teachers not tolerated and children leaving school only when they have the minimum grades. On either end of the education system – pre-school and further education – participation is increasing, but attention should now focus on boosting quality.

The Conservatives are now the party of economic management. By 2020, the Prime Minster knows they must be the party of social enrichment, too.

Ryan Shorthouse is the Director of Bright Blue.

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