Ann Widdecombe gives a frank exposition of her forthright conservatism in an interview with Sarah Sands in today’s Daily Mail.
Widdecombe argues conservatives should have the courage to suggest to indivduals how they should lead their lives:
"People are terrified of being judgmental. But we should be judgmental. Being judgmental does not mean abandoning people.
"Take, for example, the issue of single parents. Whenever a Tory mentions single parents, we are accused of scapegoating. Nonsense. Sometimes, the children miraculously turn out OK. But in a lot of cases they grow up dysfunctional, turn to drugs and crime and then repeat the same wretched pattern. Either you say that we must not judge this behaviour and therefore do nothing. Or you say we are going to break this cycle.
"In our day, to become pregnant before marriage was a disaster, not just for the stigma but because the girl didn’t have a roof and you didn’t have a breadwinner.
"Now, the State supplies the roof and the State is the breadwinner."
This also extends to people claiming benefits:
"I can remember when being on the dole was a matter for stigma. Now it doesn’t matter. There is not the sense of individual pride."
Widdecombe is clear whom she blames for such a malaise:
"It is the liberal dictatorship," says Widdecombe angrily. "Most of our social ills are down to loss of authority; in schools, by the police, in the home, in organised religion.
"There is a slow descent into anarchy. We are in moral anarchy. In some estates it is already there. To change things, you must start to restore authority to the police."
We must not accept this liberal tyranny which says that if you go against the orthodoxy, you will not only be ostracised but criminalised as well. We have to take on the three ugly sisters: the rights culture, the compensation culture and political correctness. We now have something we have never before had in this country, but is what the Soviets had – which is, that you can be punished by the law for disagreeing with the prevailing orthodoxy."
The sentimentality of politicians in recent weeks also attracts Widdecombe’s distaste. Referring to Jacqui Smith’s tearful response to 11-year-old Rhys Jones’ death:
"I don’t think it was appropriate. Everyone, nurses, policemen, politicians, will occasionally cry. But it does a patient no good, or a victim on the floor, if you are standing there crying. What you have to do is not sit down with a handkerchief, but produce solutions. What frustrates me is that every so often you will get a strong reaction from the public which will ask: ‘How did we get here and how do we get out of here?’ The same thing happened after the deaths of Jamie Bulger, Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor.
"But the mood is not harnessed and it goes away."
Widdecombe also criticises Labour’s prominent Christian politicians for their timidity, especially Ruth Kelly:
"If I had been Ruth, I would have resigned over the Catholic gay adoption issue. And I don’t understand Blair’s actions and his faith
"There is no doubt he was a huge Catholic sympathiser. But he never once took a pro-life line on abortion. He also voted against exempting Christmas Day and Easter Day from Sunday trading regulations. And then his government introduced civil partnerships and forbade Catholic adoption agencies from making their own choices over gay adoption. If you are being received as a Catholic, as I was, you have to say that all the Church teaches is revealed truth. It is not a pick and mix religion.
"The loss of Christian faith has coincided with the growth of a more predatory faith. We should stop confusing respecting the faith of others with surrendering our own."