Moving house is always a stressful thing. In our case, we are this week preparing for a move into the constituency. I was always clear that being a parliamentary candidate meant total commitment to the area you hope to represent. Our family story is just one amongst thousands – Conservative activists giving up their time, knocking on doors, standing as local councillors, donating, writing to the local paper, marching for their local hospitals, serving in their Associations, even starting blogs! We are a team. And when we are united we are an unstoppable team.
What motivates so many Conservatives to give of themselves in this way? I was never so proud to be a Conservative as when I watched our councillors in East Northamptonshire, who had been elected unopposed, donating days and evenings over several months, posting thousands of leaflets and knocking on hundreds of doors, to get their colleagues in Irthlingborough elected. My last several columns have concentrated on what the Government is doing wrong. You can hardly blame me – as a professional writer, how can I ignore that much rich material? But ultimately, we are the party of change, optimism and hope. It’s a slogan, sure, but it’s one I believe in passionately. None of the major parties have yet produced their manifestos, nor is this column trying to anticipate ours. But what I list here is already announced as policy.
Vote Conservative. Because:
1. We will stop Brown’s NHS cuts: Conservatives are committed to ending pointless reorganisations and waste in the NHS. Crucially, we are committed to defending district hospitals. Labour’s policy is to “rearrange” A&E and maternity services to glossy “supercenters” that may be miles away from where local people live. As a new mum and a voter, I am quite clear this policy is utterly wrong. It’s “Accident and Emergency”, not “Accident and Not that Urgent so Let’s Drive Forty Miles” Department.
2. We will demand a referendum on the EU Constitution: The most recent poll showed that 81% of the people and 57% of Labour voters demand the referendum we were promised before we sign over yet more sovereignty to Brussels. 24% of Labour voters were prepared to vote Tory over the issue. Yes, sovereignty is that important. We are the only Eurorealist party that can actually win. Vote Conservative, or vote to give up the veto in 50 areas, our seat at the UN, control over justice, control over immigration, and control over taxes. This was the subject of my first ConHome column. It matters to me. According to the polls, the rest of the country feels the same way.
3. We will scrap the Human Rights Act: Enough said.
4. We will abolish inheritance tax and look hard at cutting CGT, stamp duty on shares, and business taxation: I would rather tax pollution than enterprise or already-taxed family wealth.
5. We will end early release schemes, build more prisons, increase magistrates’ powers to imprison for more than six months, eliminate police form-filling and targets, and make the police accountable to their local communities: ASBO culture does not work. Read PC David Copperfield’s blog. If you believe communities have a right to live in peace and security, vote Conservative.
6. We will deliver on Blair’s failed promise to be tough on the causes of crime: He was right to say it, and wrong not to do it. Iain Duncan Smith’s widely hailed report on Breakdown Britain made the convincing case for the family. The Conservatives will support marriage and civil partnership through the tax system. We are the only party pledged to do this. Think about that before you call Brown a “social conservative”.
7. If you Vote Blue, we will Go Green: There will be taxes on pollutants – airlines are being targeted, not consumers – and incentives for eco-friendly behaviour. Yes, I used to be a sceptic on climate change. Then I went out into my garden last Christmas and my rosebush was in bud. I’m not a sceptic now.
8. We will repatriate powers from Europe, and manage immigration properly: Only David Cameron, amongst the major party leaders, has spoken of the need for Europe to be reformed into a streamlined operation and for powers to be able to return to nation states instead of always flowing to Brussels. Only David Cameron is in a position to achieve this. Nigel Farage would rather defend MEPs investigated for buying cars on their Euro-expenses and lead the only party vote against a motion condemning female circumcision in the whole European Parliament. If you are serious about reform and a rebalancing, we are the only show in town. A vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour. I hope principled Eurosceptics pay attention to our consistent position on the EU. It should encourage them.
On immigration, we have a compassionate and balanced policy. Our NHS
and welfare state must be defended, and immigration must be balanced
both for the sake of the native community and immigrants themselves.
Conservatives will scrap ID cards and spend the saved billions on an
actual border police force, 10,000 strong (not Labour’s ersatz
version). We are committed to lower overall levels of immigration, and
will take account of social cohesion when considering this delicate
area of policy.
9. Only the Conservatives have a quality of life agenda: When Cameron first spoke about this, the papers mocked him. Then we went to the polls in two local elections. This is something that matters to people; time with their children, strong families, green spaces, freedom from alcohol abuse manifesting in yobbishness. General well being. The Conservatives drove this agenda and we can deliver it.
10. An end to grade inflation and one size fits all teaching. Power to expel bullies. Syllabus reform: Michael Gove’s report this week on slumping standards in English and Maths at GCSE caught the eye even of the Guardian newspaper. The Tories are committed to academic streaming in every subject in every school, ending grade inflation, and introducing a more rigorous system. Under Labour, “education education education” has become “bullying, illiteracy, inadequacy”. Last week the CBI wanted to bribe students with a grand to study the sciences. Foreign languages are dying. If you care at all about standards, vote Conservative! Without us, Blair’s horribly limited reforms would not even have passed.
There are so many more reasons I could cite to you. Vote Conservative, if you want English votes for English laws. Vote Conservative, if you want a free vote in Government time on repeal of the hunting act. Vote Conservative, if you want farmers to get a better deal from DEFRA. Vote Conservative, if you want National Lottery funds spent on culture, not government pet projects. Vote Conservative, if you want to cut the number of government quangoes. Vote Conservative, if you want reform of the railways. Vote Conservative, if you think Tax Credits for the poorest who are then bullied into “paying back” cash the government told them was theirs are unfair. Vote Conservative, if you think that mothers who choose to stay at home with their children should receive an equal amount of support to that offered to working mums via Sure Start. Vote Conservative, if you are a LibDem horrifed at Labour’s attack on civil liberties and you want to actually kick the government out not cast a protest vote. Vote Conservative, if you think forced marriage should instantly be made illegal and young British women protected no matter what their cultural background…
Bottom line: Vote Conservative!
I wish everybody a good week.