Iain Duncan Smith is a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, founded the Centre for Social Justice, and is Conservative candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green.
The Conservative Party failed to win the required working majority predicted when it started the general election campaign, and now struggles to govern whilst it waits to put together a deal with the Democratic Unionists.
Whatever one’s views of the campaign we fought, and I will come back to this, most in the Party understand the need to create a stable government. The only possible alternative, a Labour-led government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, is grave indeed.
However there remain some – a small band, to be fair, but nevertheless a vocal group – who seem determined to sound off about what they want us to do, regardless of the circumstances. Sunday was a good example. The morning papers were full of the views of some in this group about the Prime Minister’s future, even in the shadow of the terrible tragedy of Grenfell Tower.
The media are, of course, desperate for the Party to turn in on itself, and are baying at us for that reason.
After such a bruising election campaign there are deep concerns, and the temptation to expose those can be very great. We all accept that the election campaign was very poor indeed, and that too many of our colleagues lost their seats as a result. I accept there is legitimate anger at what happened and nothing but the fullest review will suffice for us to ensure this never happens again
Yet in the meantime we have to get beyond that and focus on our immediate needs. First, we need to get the support for our key measures from the DUP, which will allow us to pass the Queen’s Speech and make real progress on the Brexit talks. That requires us to support the arrangements Theresa May makes with them.
Some have been muttering behind their hands the deal, apparently worried about what it will mean for our more liberal positions on a number of issues.
But it should surely be obvious that any such arrangement will be about making sure that this Government can get its business through the Commons, not a fully-fledged alliance. Moreover, as a political party the DUP fulfil a proper role in Northern Ireland and as part of the Union have a proper role in Westminster too.
It has been too easily forgotten or overlooked, in all the hostile commentary, that the peace process only reached fruition when the DUP finally sat down with Sinn Fein to make the devolved institutions work.
John Major and some others have warned that such an arrangement would destabilise the peace process. Yet they all seem to forget that the SDLP, throughout the negotiations and the subsequent peace process, took the Labour whip in Parliament, and I don’t recall anyone saying that this arrangement weakened the peace process. Not to mention that Gordon Brown also tried to make a deal with the DUP in 2010.
The Conservative Party will keep its integrity, and continue to disagree with the DUP on a number of issues which that party holds dear, but we must reach a pragmatic understanding so that the business of government can continue.
Much more important for us as Conservatives is to realise that the real threat facing us is from a Labour Party led by self-proclaimed Marxists and backed by some appalling activists whose purpose is to attack our Party at every turn. Just look at the march on Downing Street, and the next one they are planning this Wednesday. They know their purpose is to sow fear and discord and they will use any issue to do it.
As Mark Twain said, ‘a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on’. We know that we have a huge amount to do if we are to counter this bile-filled misrepresentation of our record and achievements.
If we look into the abyss, we will find it looks back at us – clad in a cropped grey beard and a Lenin hat and dressed in Marxist ideology. That is the alternative if we fail, and that’s why we need to get behind the Prime Minister and ensure we give the Government a period of stability. Otherwise our Party, and our country, will be the loser.