Grant Shapps is Chairman of the Conservative Party, and MP for Welwyn Hatfield.
The Conservatives are a broad party, not a narrow one. As our volunteers in Team 2015 are proving: we are a party of North and South, young and old. And we are an energetic party, too. The sweeping breadth of reform being championed by Conservative MPs is now so commonplace that it is hardly remarked upon in the daily newspapers. It isn’t always in the news bulletins, but Conservatives are:
- Building 170,000 affordable homes: the first net increase in social housing for the last three decades.
- Creating the best Superfast Broadband network in Europe by 2015, so everyone has 2Mbps internet speeds with most speeds much faster.
- Boosting scientific research into dementia, with the goal of curing this killer disease by 2025.
- Launching a ‘Teach First’ style scheme for social work, Frontline, to get our best young minds into our caring professions.
- Phasing out the compulsory retirement age, so over-65s can carry on working if they need more financial security.
- Giving schoolteachers stronger powers to tackle the misery of cyber-bullying, by allowing them to search for and delete inappropriate activity on mobile phones.
- Making sure criminals pay from their earnings, to support the victims of crime.
- Removing the data of innocent people from the DNA database.
- Curbing luxuries such as Sky TV in prison.
- Helping people who lost money in Equitable Life under Labour.
And so on! Labour oppose much of this, but we should defend it. Sure – many of our victories will not get the press coverage they deserve. That is tough. It is the nature of Government. But there is one thing above all that we must carry on talking about on the doorstep, and on the airwaves. The Conservatives have a economic plan for Britain. And, if we stick with it, it will help to secure the long-term prosperity of millions of working Brits, and leave a better inheritance for our children. Day in, day out, the Conservatives are fighting for a stronger and more competitive economy. We are the ones standing up for small business, and for those struggling to make it. For people who want to win that first job, buy that first car, secure a mortgage on that first house: we are on their side. That’s what it means to back business. Because it is British business, not our benefits system, that will create the wealth we need to pay for our NHS, schools and pensions. It is British business, not our benefits system, that will give our children jobs and hope for the future. Hardly a day passes without the Labour leadership saying that business and profits and capitalism are somehow “the problem”. But they’re not. They are the solution. We don’t need less trade and enterprise. We need more.
The headlines of our plan you already know:
- Reducing the deficit – so we deal with our debts, safeguard our economy for the long term and keep mortgage rates low.
- Cutting income taxes and freezing fuel duty – to help hardworking people be more financially secure.
- Creating more jobs – by backing small business and enterprise with better infrastructure and lower jobs taxes.
- Capping welfare and reducing immigration – so our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and play by the rules.
- Delivering the best schools and skills for young people – so the next generation can succeed in the global race.
ConservativeHome came to this early, actually. One of the reasons I love ConHome is that it was founded to champion this kind of optimistic Conservatism. From its birth in 2005, ConHome has always been more than just a news aggregator. It set out with a deliberate mission. Something that Tim Montgomerie called “Full Orchestra Conservatism”. He was talking about a Conservative politics that is tenacious and big-hearted. Strong and compassionate. In his words: “a balanced Conservatism that occupies the whole political stage and is focused on the blue collar Britons who John Major rallied in 1992”. Paul Goodman calls it “a Conservatism for Bolton West”. Speaking as a local MP, I would call it a Conservatism for Welwyn Hatfield too.
Look at the reforms being championed by the Conservative family today, with our long-term economic plan at their heart. ConHome has won the debate, I would argue. It has been proved right. Today we are not quarrelling about “Full Orchestra Conservatism”: we are fighting to deliver it in Government. Britain is finally – after years of Labour misrule, after the worst recession in 100 years – finally turning the corner. Help us finish that job. Help us win a Conservative majority. Join Team 2015 today.