Douglas Carswell was MP for Clacton from 2005-2017. His latest book Rebel: how to overthrow the emerging oligarchy is published by Head of Zeus.
I’ve just done it. I completed my postal ballot and popped it in the post. Three years after I left the Conservative Party, I voted for them yesterday.
Why? Here are ten reasons why, as a former Kipper, I didn’t hesitate to give Theresa May my vote this time.
- To make sure Brexit happens. It took us almost twenty years to get an EU referendum. Then there was an enormous effort to make certain that the right people ran the right sort of campaign to ensure we won. And we did.
But all sorts of powerful vested interests would like nothing more than to derail Brexit. And they will, if May fell short of a majority. If you care as deeply about getting out of the EU as I do, there’s only one party to vote for at this election: Conservative.
- After Brexit: Taking back control from Brussels is just the beginning. Once we are able to decide our own public policy, we need a serious root-and-branch rethink about the way we run our country – on everything from foreign policy and trade, to public procurement and corporate governance.
Obviously, there has not yet been the time to develop some of the new ideas that are needed (see the Conservative’ manifesto, for example). But as from April 2019, when we cease to be inside the EU, we can begin to develop the new policies that will define our country for decades to come. Its essential that we ensure the grown-ups are in charge.
On which note ….
- Can you imagine Comrade Corbyn at the helm?: What if we wake up on June 9th to discover a Prime Minister Corbyn in Downing Street? Do you seriously consider Diane Abbott to be a safe bet as Home Secretary? Get out there – and make sure it doesn’t happen.
- Immigration: We have a historic chance to get to grips with our immigration system, and to “re-set” the debate about it, as Sunder Katwala of British Future puts it. We should seize the chance. Now – on June 8th.
- Terror: Its clear that radical Islamism is one of the biggest problems that we in the West face. We need to move beyond platitudes, and rethink some of the fundamentals, not just about intergration and identity. We need to ask how we might deal with those that not only refuse to accept some of the inalienable truths at underpin the liberal order, but hate it precisely because it is underpinned by such truths. A good place to start might be with a former Home Secretary that has some appreciation of the scale of the challenge that lies ahead.
- Free press: The Conservative manifesto got a rough reception, but it was spot on about press freedom. The system of press regulation that we were, post the Leveson inquiry, poised to adopt, was obnoxious and illiberal. Free citizens in a free society should simply not accept such a regime. The Conservative promise to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014 is to be welcomed – and almost makes it worth voting Tory on that basis alone.
- Vested interests: There might be plenty of imperfections with the May administration; like all the others, its far too cliquey, and not nearly collegiate enough. Too many decisions are still made by a group of insiders in Number 10. But Theresa May doesn’t like doing deals. She didn’t cut them with her colleagues to win the Tory crown. She’ll be even less inclined to cut them with the various vested interests keen to influence the clique on the Downing Street sofa. Who knows, she might even start picking fights with various vested interests in time?
- The UK: I sense that the point of maximum danger to the Union has passed. Scotland voted against leaving the UK. The SNP are no longer able to pretend that they can be all things to all Scots. Brexit, far from tearing the Union asunder, might – by renewing our belief in ourselves – see the forces of separatism abate. Anything but a May majority could throw up all kinds of question marks again.
- Debt: Under the disastrous Osbrown administrations between 1997 and 2016, public finances were run into the ground. We have handed tomorrow’s taxpayers a massive bill to pay for stuff that we cannot afford today. May seems to have some appreciation of the fact that we cannot be rich if we keep living like this.
- They’re annoying, but ….: We’ve spent weeks listening to Conservative candidates give robotic answers to questions. The party has toyed with some daft ideas about energy price caps, and all the rest of it. But there’s a difference between annoying and downright loopy dangerous. A May administration would be on the right side on the big issues – Brexit, immigration, Islamism; and would likely feel its way towards the right answer on the economy and trade. As for the alternative?….
I’ll be helping to get the vote out over the next week. Why not come along and help?