By Tim Montgomerie
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Throughout the coming week we'll be summarising some of the challenges that our party still needs to meet if it is to become a majority party again. We will be asking what parts of the Right we should keep and what we should jettison. Some will undoubtedly see some of the analysis as too introspective, too apologetic, too timid. I concede some of it might indeed be flawed. Some of it certainly amounts to thinking aloud. It's not all poll tested. It's not all mine or my colleagues' settled views. But rethinking and reflection is necessary. On both sides of the Atlantic conservative parties have gone from being the natural parties of government to the natural parties of opposition. Our own Tory Party hasn't won more than 40% of the vote at a general election since 1992. The Republican Party has lost four of six presidential elections since that same year – winning more than 50% of the vote on just one occasion – in 2004. If ConHome can't think creatively about the changes we might need to make then we'd be failing in one of our central purposes.
Before I'm accused of being a faintheart let me restate ten of my central conservative convictions…
- I am a monarchist, a Unionist and would like Britain to leave the European Union. I hope we'll soon have a referendum on Britain's membership of the
European Union and although I'm not optimistic that my view will prevail
I would vote to leave and for Britain to become an independent nation
state and democracy once more.
- I fully support the government's deficit reduction strategy. My only wish is that the spending cuts were a little faster and the tax increases more limited. Britain isn't spending too little but taxing too much – especially the young and those starting out in life.
- I always prefer competition to regulation and self-regulation to statutory regulation but accept that state intervention is sometimes necessary.
- Although, at the point of use, schooling and medical services should largely be free I support more private and voluntary provision of both. Competition between providers that generates diversity is essential to higher educational standards and better healthcare. There should be thresholds in strike ballots so that small minorities of union members can't hold patients, parents or other users of essential public services to ransom.
- I believe in zero tolerance policing. I also believe that more repeat and serious offenders should be in jail but,
while they're there, we should do more to rehabilitate them.
- I think
Britain benefits from immigrant labour but it needs to be much more
tightly controlled. Recent levels of immigration may have added to national life in many diverse ways but they have also depressed the
wages of our own working classes.
- I don't deny the existence of climate change but I see no point in handicapping our economy with immature green technologies that increase energy costs for householders and businesses without affecting global emisions. Conservatives should be conservationists at a local level – protecting natural habitats and tending the world's most beautiful countryside.
- I wish our politicians would devote more time at international summits pursuing free trade and less time signing up to environmental and aid plans that they have no intention of meeting.
- I don't believe that providing a safety-net for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society should be an afterthought for Conservatives. Caring for the sick, the disabled and the elderly is more than a duty – it's a privilege.
- For me marriage is the most important of all social institutions. It stands at the heart of the extended family and of every society's effort to civilise, educate, sustain and protect. It is an institution that should actively be supported by the legal and fiscal systems.
Perhaps I'm being too defensive but I don't think readers will like some of the things we'll be saying over the next few days in what we're calling "The Wrong Right' series. I offer this list as a reminder of where I'm coming from.