Why we should all be #PreparedForPriti – On common ground and compromise │ Greg Allman
Part of the 2010 Club dubbed “the new right”, Patel was quickly identified as future star for the Conservative Party. Born to Gujarati parents, who later settled in Uganda in the 60’s before fleeing to the UK as refugees (a direct consequence of Idi Amin expelling Asians from the country), and growing up during Thatcher’s reign and the party’s most successful period in its conception, Patel was inspired to believe in the vision that Mrs. Thatcher laid out.
A society based upon meritocracy, no matter your circumstances or the adversity you have faced in life – as long as you work hard you shall find success. A belief in individual liberty, against a bloated, paternal state. While some naively place her communitarianism sympathies at odds with the concept of individual liberty, I consider the balanced relationship and furtherment of the two as a key battleground for conservatives in the battle of ideas. Supporting the death penalty for the most heinous crimes; publicly lambasting Colchester city council for the proposed destruction of vast green space; calling for a “renaissance” of enterprise spurred by further devolution and less central planning: all of that sounds pretty conservative to me.
A relatively quiet, but certainly a conscientious term as PPPS to the Exchequer, as well as minister for employment led to her promotion to the secretary state for international development. Patel, during her time in the Department for International Development, fought against corruption in countries which were the beneficiaries of British aid, as well as criticising the amount of financial aid going to the authorities in Palestine. Instead, Patel argued it should be medicinal and food aid only, for fear funds were not going directly to victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instead used to finance munitions. I will not rake over the debacle in which she was dismissed from her position, but leave only a lingering question, would she have been so heavily pressured to resign if she met delegates from a country other than Israel?
On Brexit, she has a record any Leaver would be proud of, a key figure in the 2016 campaign, rightfully pointing out the mindlessness of our abandonment of the Commonwealth Nations – explaining how a skilled doctor from India should have as much as a chance to work in the UK than a European one. Furthermore, motivated by the democratic deficit with the EU, she showed unwavering loyalty to ensure the result of the referendum is respected: having previously voted down May’s Withdrawal Agreement in all its woeful variations, while also voting for the removal of the joint instrument – aka the Brady Agreement.
We need a Leave purist now more than ever; ever since the EU negotiators saw through May’s feeble attempt at threatening to walk away from the negotiating table, we were bound to get the worst possible deal. If I were in a market for a house, would it be wise to say to the seller “I will not leave until you sell me this house”? What sort of deal would I be likely to achieve with that stance? Priti Patel, if need be, will walk away on WTO terms – supported by as many as 76% of Conservative Party members. On this issue let me be abundantly clear: no one has advocated for long-term WTO rules and, being a self-styled Thatcherite, Patel sees tariffs for what they really are – an unnecessary tax on consumers which make for a double whammy in combination with the already worrisome overarching tax burden that ordinary people are faced with. An individual in Britain has to work on average 149 days before they are actually working for themselves; with Priti as PM we shall have a state that works for us – not a gluttonous state that feeds from our pockets.
She certainly does not shy away from her open admiration for the UK’s first female Prime Minister, and we could do far worse than another Margaret Thatcher taking the helm. After all, a healthy dose of monetarism would be in our best interest, as we are still bracing ourselves for the eventual economic impact caused by Osborne’s “easy money” economic management after the credit crunch of 2008. It’s rather ironic his decision to impose austerity so that “the burden of debt will not be the responsibility of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren” and chose instead to use expansionary monetary policy as a stimulus, long-term rock bottom interest rates will do exactly what he forewarned when the bubble bursts.
The parallels do not end with monetarism! Invoking Thatcher’s political ally and great friend Sir Keith Joseph, Patel threw caution at MP’s mistaking the “common ground” for the “centre ground”. When people speak of compromise and pragmatism, I do believe in my heart of hearts they are looking for genuine consensus, but with the death of bi-partisanship and entrenchment of tribal loyalties there is only one way it will end. Thatcher referred to consensus in politics as “the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something no one believes, but no one rejects”. For too long the party have been shedding its conservative values to hoover up votes in the centre; it’s about time we started attracting votes instead of chasing them.
Over the course of the leadership debate I have come across innumerable articles painting out “why my choice should be leader”; really they have read as “why everyone else in the running is sub-par except my choice for leader”. That is no way to lay the foundations for a thorough debate. This is why, over the course of this piece I have neither mentioned nor contrasted Patel to other runners to adhere to this very principle.
The Conservative Party may not have learned such a lesson, but I certainly have; arguments against certain individuals is not a particular compelling argument for who you are endorsing. Which is why I shall be letting Priti’s values be the catalyst which persuades you: her commitment to conservation of the environment; rekindling our relationship with the commonwealth; and her commitment to reducing the cost of living. Not bad for someone who didn’t go to Eton, I say!