Deborah Thomas is prospective parliamentary candidate for Twickenham, where she is challenging the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, and you can read her blog here. She argues that in tackling the economic crisis, Conservatives must challenge the apparent consensus that capitalism is broken and be bold enough to say that it is better to "do nothing" if the alternative is worse.
As the song goes, “Stop The World, I want to Get Off”.
I can’t help but feel that somehow we are living in a kind of political nightmare – a screen has been pulled separating out the political establishment from the rest of the world, the Westminster bubble unpoppable, and a dangerous reality vacuum being created that could lead to parties on the political fringes making headway, if only because voters are so frustrated looking in to the fishbowl.
In the recent economic crisis, I believe a dangerous consensus appears (and I choose that word carefully) to have been created: Bankers are bad. Capitalism is broken. Regulation has failed.
No searching questions, no detailed analysis and most importantly, no serious political rebuttal from the political right has been aired in the mainstream media against these new “truths”.
I have written before about my frustration with what a friend of mine calls “conformist liberalism”: the idea that there are paradigms – such as the certainty of climate change, the idiocy of George W Bush or the folly of war in Iraq – that should not be debated further, as they are given facts, with non-believers treated worse than early Christian heretics.
This disease has, in my opinion, infected parts of the Parliamentary Conservative party, where we have allowed politicians such as my opponent in Twickenham, Vince Cable, to be lauded, not because what he says is right, but because there is no coherent critique of the Government coming from the right to fill the vacuum.
Just a few days ago, Dan Hannan MEP stole my thunder somewhat with his incredible speech in Europe against Gordon Brown. I am delighted, because a quick check on YouTube proves my point – more than 1,740,000 hits. People want to hear the alternative vision.
For the Conservative Party to truly be credible and formidable, we must have the self-confidence to be a party of the right, fight for right and break the consensus that I believe is wholly wrong.
Let me give you an example. Any banker who receives a bonus is now automatically on the back foot. However, by distributing profits, society (and the Treasury) benefits. How?
Well, corporation tax is payable at 30% by a company on its profits. Income tax is payable at 40% (+ NICs) by individuals. In other words, every pound that a company pays its staff nets the Government 10p more than it would were it retained as profit by that company.
The flaw is not the company (quite frankly out-negotiating the Government in its bailout), handing over money as bonuses; instead, it is the Government in its desperation to intervene, not tying its funding contract to any kind of properly defined performance bonus.
Another example: the problems in the banking sector are not about “light touch regulation” v. heavy-handed regulation. The problem is poor regulation. Perfect competition relies on transparency (perfect knowledge and competition) and banks bundling up swathes of toxic debt into A-rated products was a failure of transparency, not under-regulation.
My final example: when Gordon Brown announced that his way of helping professionals who had recently become redundant was to retrain them as teachers in record time, I could not help but feel that the Conservative response was to attack the Government for not making the training period longer, as we did not want to upset the teaching profession.
My belief is that the correct response was to attack the Government for so lacking in creativity, that their instinct was to put wealth creators into the public sector, rather than utilise their talents to create enterprises that will assist us in paying the enormous current and future tax bills Labour have landed us with.
This could have been done without upsetting teachers, demeaning their profession, or antagonising the entire public sector.
However, the British people have paid the price for three terms of Labour. The least they can expect from us is to have the cojones to really push through an alternative vision rather than tinkering around the edges.
Vince Cable is a weathervane – he will turn whichever way the wind is blowing. We are a better and stronger party than that.
Let us start over.
Capitalism and free enterprise are not broken, but they are hurt. What has hurt them the most is poor Government (not small government), market failure and the state picking up in indebtedness where the banks stopped.
Government has failed. It continues to fail. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Let us fight for the small businessman, the entrepreneur, the man who started with a computer in his living room and ended up creating a multinational.
Let us fight for the majority of free-marketeers that have not screwed the system nor brought the country to its knees.
Let us admit that simply looking at statistics, 650-odd MPs cannot know more or be able to do better than the 60 million citizens they govern.
Let us say proudly, “Yes, we will be a do nothing party, if the only alternative is to make things worse”. Gordon Brown has proven that point for us – we should not be afraid to take him to task.
Britain deserves at least this from us.