Charles Evans is co-founder of the Social Conservative Alliance.
The United Kingdom stands at a crossroads. In light of the Brexit vote, we live in a state of purgatory: despite it highlighting deep divisions in society, we now have an exciting opportunity to radically change the way we do things.
At conference Theresa May did outline something different to the Cameron-Blair status quo of recent history. She put forward a patriotic British pitch to leave the European Union, outlined how she was unafraid to use the power of the state to push through Conservative policy.
Pre-Thatcherite conservatives were never anti-state. But they were conservatives, and held to traditional views on family, society and community. Edmund Burke, one of the great conservative thinkers, outlined this and May was shrewd to cite him.
Roger Scruton, the best-known living conservative philosopher advocates similar ideas and conservative commentators Peter Hitchens and Peter Oborne also highlight the loss of social conservatism in the Conservative Party.
So whilst Theresa May put forward some interesting ideas, we need bold conservatives to now say that Blairite social liberalism is failing, and state liberalism would be folly.
Families disintegrate; the mental health crisis worsens; the drums of Scottish, Northern Irish, and Welsh independence get banged; republicanism grows; religious faith is demonised; communities radically change as a direct result of an immigration system we have no control over; the case for the unborn is laughed at; the middle class and working class see a squeeze on their wages; and the church, the pub, and the sports club as valuable institutions are on the wane.
The status quo, which clearly hasn’t been working, has adhered to social liberalism, carried out by successive Labour and Conservative governments.
Red and blue social liberals argue that religion should play an increasingly marginal role in society; they portray anti-uncontrolled immigration opinions to be racist; they seek to devalue the family unit; and perhaps most worryingly we now see, through support of safe-space policies, attempts at regulating thoughts and opinions that might offend the status quo.
This is why we have formed the Social Conservative Alliance, or SCA: we think enough is enough. Britain as we know it is broken, and the social liberal status quo isn’t working. We will not stand by whilst the liberal, metropolitan elite seek to demonise, patronise and ostracise large swathes of our population.
That is why we are calling for A New Vision for Britain which we hope will change the Conservative Party. We propose an agenda that favours the traditional ideas that many of us believe in, but many politicians simply are too afraid to stand up for.
Through our New Vision for Britain, we will:
- Defend the family. The family is the backbone of society. In a stable family environment, it is where individuals feel a sense of value and worth and a family with a strong nucleus gives a child the best possible opportunity for a good start in life.
- Champion the Community and The Big Society. People feel valued when they are part of local and active communities. The sports club; the church; the pub; the independent retailer-this is where people beyond the family, can feel that they have a stake in their local community.
- Defend the Constitution. Whilst the United Kingdom does not have a written constitution, its ancient Parliament, its monarchy, and the Union itself is being attacked by liberal ‘Conservatives’. We will make the passionate case for our cultural institutions.
- Defend the Christian faith. Christianity has been at the heart of our nation for centuries. The values of tolerance and compassion; as well as the distinction between good and evil are age-old values that are under threat from liberal ‘Conservatives’ making the argument that Christianity must make way for secularism.
- Controlled migration that works for Britain. Not only has mass immigration meant that many British workers have been left behind in flexible labour markets and driven down wages in many sectors; the sheer scale of migration has left our schools, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals playing catch up. Immigration on the whole is extremely beneficial to our economy, but we will make the case for controlled immigration, immigration that benefits both the migrant and Britain itself.
- Restore our criminal justice system. The popular argument that is being made in the Party, in government and in wider society is the need for rehabilitation. We believe this has neglected the importance of deterrence in this system and the priority of keeping citizens safe. We believe the punishments for the most heinous crimes must be enforced; and that life genuinely means life.
- Do not forget the Value of Life. As medicine advances, the chance of premature babies surviving grows. We will lobby the government to re-evaluate existing laws to ensure they are updated to take into account new scientific advances. Abortion is not another form of birth control; it should be the final resort when circumstances are untenable. Assisted suicide or euthanasia is also gaining increasing support, it simply does not support the value of life and we have reached a stage in Belgium where children are being euthanized, do we really want our doctors are left in this position?
Conservatism as a philosophical idea is not necessarily hostile to the state. It was Thatcherism that was a distinct libertarian brand. So Conservatives must not pretend we have always been anti-state.
The key question is how we use the machinery of the state. Do we continue with more of the same as Tony Blair, left-liberalism or do we implement actual social conservative policies?