I have written for The Telegraph this morning about the aftermath of the grammar schools row. The article’s messages will not be new to regular readers of this site but I’d like to quickly emphasise three themes:
David Cameron does have many policies that should energise more traditional Conservative voters.
- Top of my own personal list would be his support for marriage and his whole emphasis on social responsibility.
- Eurosceptics should look forward to the formation of a new grouping within the European Parliament – outside of the federalist EPP. Yes, the pledge has been disappointingly delayed but alongside opposition to the social charter and the EU Constitution there’s enough worth having.
- Police reform. Nick Herbert’s reform agenda should make a big difference to the nation’s ability to fight crime.
- Within the home affairs brief there’s also the promise to scrap ID cards, build more prisons, institute a dedicated borders security police force and appoint a minister dedicated to homeland security.
- I share many activists’ opposition to the grammar schools policy but the emphasis on ‘grammar streams’ in every school, more independence for City Academies and new freedoms for start-up schools are all very welcome.
- Much greater independence for NHS professionals.
- Some sort of English votes for English laws.
- Tax simplification.
- An opportunity to repeal the ban on hunting.
- And my single favourite policy of all (within a not exhaustive list): the establishment of a website that would take much public sector job advertising away from The Guardian and put it online. Sorry Mr Rusbridger.
I’m sure you can all think of other policies.
These policies do not have to conflict with the greener, gentler message of Project Cameron.
The site’s core belief is the And theory of Conservatism. It’s perfectly possible to combine a belief in controlled immigration with a generous and passionate commitment to the third world. Support for traditional marriage as a way to stronger communities and respect for gay couples to enjoy fairness in matters of property, inheritance and tax affairs are perfectly compatible. ‘And theory Conservatives’ can argue for higher defence spending and an end to arms sales to despotic regimes.
But these policies do have to be sold.
David Cameron is doing a fantastic job at selling the kinder, gentler Conservatism to centre ground voters. That’s why we did so well in winning LibDem council seats on 3rd May. But he needs help in keeping the base happy. He needs David Davis and Liam Fox to do on the right what William Whitelaw did for Margaret Thatcher on the left. Davis and Fox need to be charged with keeping the base energised and the centre right newspapers on side.