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Albie Amankona is co-founder of Conservatives Against Racism For Equality (CARFE).

Call me old fashioned but I miss the days where the Conservative Party was more anti-tax than anti-woke, more pro-business than pro-culture war. Fashionable nostrums, like “woke” and “anti-woke”, come and go, but our conservative values are timeless and they bind us together.

Conservatism has gone awry, we have become complacent and sloppy. Too complacent with the current system to reform planning and unlock the potential of house builders to address the housing shortage; delivering on the British dream of home ownership for a generation where that is out of reach.

Birth-rates have dropped as house prices have soared. Coincidence? I think not. There are few things less conservative than presiding over conditions that make it hard for the young to settle down with the joy and security of their own families.

Rather than providing leadership on equalities, we fear being called “woke”. In Spring 2021 the Government released a ground-breaking report on British race relations, the first of its kind to discuss family breakdown, disaggregate BAME, and separate the injustices of racism from some racial disparities where factors such as family structure, cultural norms and geography play a bigger role in life outcomes. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report has 24 recommendations which could change the lives of millions of Britons and improve social cohesion.

Almost a year post-release, no government response. I have been holding my breath since September when Kemi Badenoch told us the government’s response was coming “shortly” in her excellent Black History Month article.

On LGBT+ issues, we cannot square how to improve the lives of trans Britons and ban conversion therapy whilst reconciling women’s rights and single-sex spaces – something which has been achieved by countries we outcompete on other metrics such as France, Ireland, and Portugal. It is not impossible and society has not collapsed across the channel or the Irish Sea.

At Party Conference I warned the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Oliver Dowden, about “anti-woke” rhetoric. I have spoken to countless MPs, peers, journalists, broadcasters, and fellow party activists about the pointless pursuit of a confected culture war and about the need to find a positive, unifying, and dare I say inclusive Conservative narrative to counter the left’s divisive oppression Olympics. A radically moderate narrative, as Steve Baker MP would say: radical in our care for one another, but moderate in what we say and do.

We must recognise that unless we find this narrative – if we continue to only oppose and divide – the small minority that represent only the most radical views will win.

During Dowden’s Heritage Foundation speech, it was encouraging to hear the Chairman say: “we allow ourselves to be obsessed by what divides us rather than what unites us” as he rejected cancel culture, defended free speech, conservatism and western liberal democratic values.

However, nebulous references to “woke ideology” and unmannerly asides about pronouns sullied an otherwise sound speech. The culture war has reached a level of nonsense where an individual cannot exercise their freedom to choose a veggie sausage without being called “woke”. Why do people care if someone’s banger is pork or pea protein? What does “woke” mean? It is meaningless, make-believe, another dreaded “social construct” that we enthusiastically build.

According to YouGov, 59 per cent of Britons do not know what “woke” means. Frankly, the “war on woke” does not matter. On what does matter – policy – we fear the polls too much to use our historic 80-seat majority to deliver the post-Brexit reforms necessary to turbocharge growth, level up, reform the NHS, regulation, taxation, and housing, or be honest about the need to balance the books after spending nearly half a trillion pounds on our Covid response in less than 27 months.

I laugh when I think about what drew me to the Conservative party, from a Labour family made up of the descendants of proud Northern mill workers and Windrush migrants. My gratitude for gay marriage, the promise of fiscal discipline and a budget surplus by 2020.

I doubt a similar teenager would make the same decision today. Now, we must tell voters we believe in families, freedom, opportunity, free-markets, low taxes, and a pro-business environment… as we have legislated for the opposite. Some blame Covid, but Lord Frost resigned as he concluded that it was more than that. I agree with him.

Actions speak louder than words. Parliamentarians who I have respected my entire political life are too scared of Number 10 to tell them what the country is thinking. Instead they defend the indefensible and our reputation tarnishes. The May local elections will be a major test.

I believe in the transformative power of Conservative governments, on equality issues like advancing LGBT+ rights, on constitutional changes like Brexit, on economic reform like Thatcher’s free market revolution, and on defence like victory in the Falklands and managing the evolving conflict in Ukraine.

As Covid retreats and we respond to actual war in Europe, we should stop stoking the concocted culture war and worrying about name-calling when we make challenging but correct choices on the economy, defence and equalities.

If we must be scared of something, let it be what will be going through voters’ minds at the ballot box, when Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn are in the past. If this is going through my mind, what will be going through theirs?