Compassionate Conservatism and Corbynism│ Fred Kearey
Behind the exterior of Corbynism is an idea that can prey on those that feel powerless. As a party, we must take on the concerns of the JAM’s – the Just About Managing’s – and do this fast. Stridently stake out our claim that our Conservatism is something that will appeal to them; this means acting on concerns with the housing market. Sajid Javid MP’s proposal of 300,000 homes a year is something that is nearer the mark than previous targets set by past Ministers. This requires political will and clear strategy to achieve ambitions such as Javid’s. This will mean a reform of the planning system to some degree to enable this to happen in a way that can free up supply to enable the delivery of homes for those who need them. To some way this will help to redress the intergenerational balance that in recent years has become politically and socially unsustainable: ‘Generation Rent’, as Millennials have become known, are now the key battleground. Furthermore, failing to deal with this core priority would be fundamentally fatal to the Conservative party and its long term political future and will only give rise to a Corbyn Government. As for that possibility, the possible run on the pound would adversely affect a Corbyn governments stability and ability to govern.
For that not to happen we as a party should not be reactive to events, but to pre-empt them. This means no more botched rollouts being allowed to play out in front of the media. Promote a compassionate and socially encompassing Conservatism through a strong economy and well-funded public services, that only a Transitional Brexit, currently being worked on by the government would be able to deliver. We need workable, pragmatic and practical policies that can work for the greatest number of people possible and reach those who are most in need.
My age group in particular, and those on the centre-left in general should not be written off again, as if they were as supportive of North Korean style socialism – as some rhetoric would have some believe. They want a society of, yes individualism that has come with the rise of LGBT identity consciousness and a myriad of different movements for self-expression, but also one of society and collaboration. For the party to win in the next General Election the face of compassionate conservatism must be shouted from the roof tops. The Secretary for Work and Pensions, David Gauke’s handling of the botched rollout of Universal Credit is an unfortunate litany that gives those in the Labour party the ‘nasty party’ stick to beat us with. The party must listen to voices such as Johnny Mercer and Heidi Allen who have campaigned in Plymouth on this very emotive issue. For those on Universal Credit, the delay of 6 weeks is not acceptable.
The future of the UK’s social structure will be affected by the ensuing impact on the labour market through the rise of automation. This will increase social inequalities – hence the possibility of a rage against technological change or, put more succinctly, a Luddite-style unrest could be enabled among those who do not have the necessary skills to compete. Therefore, automation must have a degree of regulation in case whole swathes of developed countries’ labour forces are not put to one side. This is particularly apt to sectors of the British economy such as retail and manufacturing which are making the transition already.
The Conservatives must always aspire to be the party of social and economic opportunity. Measures such as the National Living Wage are so crucial to the branding of a modern and compassionate Conservative party. One that values society, our ambitions and an equitable social future to unite our Country and maintain our position as an effective party of Government. One that can deliver on the Prime Minister’s great social mission of those burning injustices: reforming the system for mental health care; JAM’s; and delivering a Brexit that is truly transformational to our United Kingdom. A fairer society and a strong economy are key, for the admirable aims of the Prime Minister to come to fruition.