By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the most encouraging things about today's Conservative Party is the liveliness of the Class of 2010. Starting tomorrow Matthew Barrett will be looking at the work of different backbench groups but here's a summary of some of the more interesting projects and thoughts launched by some of our newest MPs in recent days. I've arranged the list alphabetically…
First I direct you to a piece in yesterday's Observer by George Freeman. George is at the heart of a Tory interest in developing a new industrial strategy – not a return to a 1960s/70s policy of picking winners (or picking losers as invariably happened) but, in his slightly jargonistic words, the need to "focus on the technologies and sectors of the British innovation and knowledge economy which can best compete in the new markets of the developing world". He suggested five themes for his strategy including a focus on building deep relationships with emerging markets; development of innovation cities, corridors and neighbourhoods; and the identification and exploitation of technologies where we have a competitive advantage. Read more.
In yesterday's Sunday Times (£) Sam Gyimah called for new ways of graduates helping their universities to educate more young people, especially from less privileged backgrounds. Noting that barely 1% of UK alumni make gifts to their institutions compared to 10% in the USA he recommends mechanisms whereby graduates can keep paying into the student financing system even after they've repaid their own loans.
Harlow MP Rob Halfon has been associated with two big new initiatives in the last week or so. First of all came the Right Angle website – his attempt to develop a centre right alternative to the left-wing 38Degrees. We all need to get behind Rob's initiative in every way we can. Over the last week ConHome has been giving it free advertising. Rob's second initiative was on trade unions. Rob wants the Conservatives to end any sense that trade unions are our enemies or even opponents. He wants us to re-create the mood of the early 1980s when there was an active trade unionist grouping inside the Conservative Party. Rob supports reform of trade union funding but wants us to remember there's a difference between militant union leaders and most of their moderate members. Basic manners, some might say, but sometimes basic manners are forgetten or neglected. More here.
Three Tory MPs from the North-West and North-East of England made notable contributions on North/South issues. Over at The Guardian James Wharton reviewed Coalition initiatives that were already helping the North. Here on ConHome Eric Ollerenshaw looked at closing the gap between Britain's regions and Guy Opperman wrote a heart-felt piece about Tory priorities. "At what point," he wrote, "did it become 'Conservative' to worry about those with a £2million house, before those struggling to pay a £100,000 mortgage?" He concluded: "The average house price in the UK is £161,545. In the North East, the region I represent, it is £102,066. If we ever want to win significant numbers of seats in the North again, and we must to win a majority, we need to remember those figures every time we talk about our tax and spend priorities. It's not envy to ask those with the broadest shoulders to help those at the bottom. It's called fairness." Read Guy's full piece.
Daniel Poulter has been visiting families at the bottom of the economic ladder. In a thoughtful piece for yesterday's Observer he reflected on what he'd learnt. In particular he explained how he had fresh enthusiasm for Iain Duncan Smith's efforts to simplify the benefits system and to pioneer early interventions. He also reflected on what a certain party leader would describe as the predatory behaviour of some exploitative consumer credit businesses. Read Dan's piece here.