Ryan Robson is a managing partner of the private equity firm Sovereign Capital and chaired reports by the Centre for Social Justice on educational failure and children in care.
In late 2007 I met Lady Thatcher at a reception. Our host warmly congratulated her for creating a culture in which making money was not a seen as a crime. He had first started his business career in the Seventies and it had been a slow start. Torturous taxation, leaden labour laws and a powerful public sector had strangled his early efforts. But the Eighties changed all that and he went on to build a successful business and invest in many more. Lady Thatcher turned to us eyes burning bright and said, “The battle for our ideas is never over.”
I cannot forget the intensity with which she spoke these words and they are never more relevant than today. For every minute that Labour remains in power, the precious ground that was gained during a decade which saw Britain rise from sick bed to success is being challenged and captured.
We are an enfeebled nation in the face of the biggest economic calamity in generations because we have been fed a fatty diet of liberal faddism since 1997. Just at the time our most disadvantaged young people need to leave school with the best tools necessary to get a job, they will find their illiteracy and innumeracy makes this impossible. Just when the hard working are having to make enormous sacrifices to keep their heads above water, the tax burden of Labour’s vast armies of diversity coordinators weighs them down. Just when the family is most needed to hold our communities together it finds itself assailed and disadvantaged at every turn by a Government that encourages selfish whim over long term commitment.
Despite Brown’s boasts, we are unprepared to meet the challenge of this
recession not only because our public finances are shot to pieces but
because our country’s culture has been corrupted.
At the root of economic recovery is effort and courage. Yet the
nobility and necessity of work has been eroded by a vast welfare
machine which champions fecklessness. And what will encourage
entrepreneurs to take the risks necessary to sustain and build
businesses in bust Britain? Not the abuse being heaped on them daily by
ministers who have never had a proper job. Nor the rampant employment
regulation which stifles meritocracy and job creation.
Brown’s answer to our economic ill health is to pile on the pounds by
spoon feeding us more sugary statism. This didn’t work in the Seventies
when it took three weeks to get a phone installed in your home. Today,
serial IT projects lie in tatters and our soldiers have to buy their
own body armour to go to war, so there is precious little evidence that
it will work now.
It is the time for us to restate robustly the old truths which define
Conservatism. You can’t spend what you don’t have. We can’t afford more
teachers and nurses unless a healthy private sector creates the profits
to pay taxes. The family is the basic building block of our society.
The state is the people’s servant not its master.
Labour’s lies have got us into the mess we are in and they are blocking
our way out. Lady Thatcher was right. The battle for our ideas is never
over and there is too much at stake to stay silent.