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100days_6Every day
this week ConservativeHome is dedicating Your Platform to a
different take on the
first 100 days of Cameron’s leadership.
John is Conservative MP for South Holland and the Deepings.

At the start of the last parliament I
routinely used the term social justice in conversation with a fellow Tory
MP. It was met with a mixture of
disbelief and hostility – social justice is a socialist idea, I was told. Thank God the party has travelled a long way
since then. David Cameron’s first act as
party leader was to establish a policy group on social justice. There is every reason for all shades of
Conservative opinion to welcome this new emphasis.

One nation conservatives should be
automatic enthusiasts. They
instinctively understand that you can’t claim to love Britain
but be indifferent to the circumstances of many of your fellow countrymen. You can’t want to keep the pound but keep
quiet about those without the money to make ends meet. Labour’s record on poverty is very
mixed. Whilst billions of pounds have
been sunk into battles against poverty, anyone familiar with life on Britain
’s
poorest estates knows that poverty is still winning the war.

If we are to win this struggle we can’t
keep pulling the same levers and expect different results. David Cameron has promised to look for new,
better weapons. He has spoken of the
importance of social enterprise and of more rehabilitation places for people
with drug problems. He has promised greater
support for that much neglected institution that underpins any society’s caring
capacity – the family. In this
understanding there is much for ‘traditional values conservatives’ to welcome.

This emphasis should also
encourage small
government conservatives. One of the
principal reasons for the fattening of government has been the growth
of social
problems. Every fractured family costs
the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds. Addiction fuels crime and
diminishes economic capacity. Poor schools and the problem of truancy
mean
many children turn to crime and never fulfil their potential. If we
solve social problems we’ll not only be
doing the right thing, we will also be laying the foundations for a
more limited
state.

All this goes to prove how that Tory MP –
no longer in parliament – was so wrong. Social justice isn’t a bolt-on extra
for authentic Conservatives. The
Conservative Party
is at its best when it’s true to its compassionate roots.
Throughout our party’s history we have fought to extend opportunity, ownership
and democracy. When Labour next claim
that they have a monopoly of compassion, remind them ours is the party of
Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Disraeli. When
Liberals next claim that they care more than you, remind them that their party
opposed almost every social reform introduced by those very same one nation
conservatives.

Iain Duncan Smith and the Centre for Social
Justice
deserve enormous credit for the rediscovery of the party’s one nation
tradition; Iain has led the party’s thinking on this central issue. All Conservatives should welcome the new
breadth of David Cameron’s Conservatism. The ‘crunchy’ commitments to conserve the beauty of the environment and
to stand up to soulless big business are fundamentally conservative. He has brought a reasonableness to
parliamentary debate by avoiding the petty point scoring that turns people off
politics. And he has elevated political
discourse by understanding that politics is not just about what we earn but
about who we are. The kind of people for
whom quality of life – with all its cultural and social dimensions – is a root
to fulfilment way beyond self-interest. That is why David Cameron’s emphasis on social justice offers the
greatest promise. I hope
ConservativeHome will find a way to help this emphasis evolve into a powerful
new policy agenda.

STEPHAN SHAKESPEARE OF YOUGOV WILL BE EXPLORING DAVID CAMERON’S IMPACT ON THE OPINION POLLS TOMORROW.

21 comments for: John Hayes MP on David Cameron’s first 100 days: Social Justice

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