Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): Be brave. So we must reassert just what Conservatism is in 21st century Britain

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Be brave. So we must reassert just what Conservatism is in 21st century Britain

So Polly Toynbee (surprise, surprise) is pushing for Labour to really be Labour. Her reason for this seems to be a lurch to the left amongst Conservative politicians. She may be right. Labour she says has redefined the political landscape. Well, no-one doubts that after they've been the only party on the electoral map for a decade. Where I would be tempted to disagree with her is that it is necessarily right or that the straw-man she has set up as the Conservative's approach to 'social injustice' is actually the case.

She writes:
"So afterwards I asked him [David Willetts] if the Tories would need to have a poverty target of their own at the next election. Yes, he said; the party would need a target to prove it was just as sincere about social justice. So the long ideological battle has been won: the Tories admit that it does matter how wide the gap is between top and bottom."

Now I agree. The Conservatives do need to talk about social injustice and increasing genuine opportunity for those who currently have little except despair. Too often in the past an increase in opportunity has meant opportunity for merely a few of those who are not well off (and everyone else). This must change. There must be opportunity for all willing to make the effort and invest into our society the skills which they do have and which society demands.

Does merely redistributing wealth to those who don't have it solve anything? Does it solve the processes which have lead to cycles of poverty, decline and despair? No. It is the same solution as that of positive discrimination is to access in universities. It is a left-ist attempt at a solution, a quick-fix attempt at a solution and an inequitable attempt at a solution. And it is an attempt that will solve nothing in the long run; apart from making Britain exceedingly uncompetitive on a global scale at a time when flexibility, ability to adapt to a rapidly changing global market are our most marketable commodities. We cannot view this as an issue in isolation. Our future in contrast to that of countries such as China, India and Pakistan is the issue of tomorrow. We must be ready to meet that challenge. To do that we need to reassert a brand of Conservatism which shows our compassion as well as our desire to be both the best in the world and truly one nation, not two split between haves and have-nots. Let us not throw out the goose that lays the golden egg with the bathwater.


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