The ‘And theory of conservatism’ believes that it is necessary for conservatives to fuse their 'core vote' beliefs with imaginative and compassionate responses to today’s quality of life challenges.
‘And theory conservatives’ – or total conservatives – sign up to ‘core vote’ positions on Europe, tax, immigration and crime. To this extent they are traditionalists – but, like other Tory modernisers, they realise that this isn’t enough. They realise that conservatives also need to have answers to inner city decay, environmental deterioration and today’s other problems.
Tender policies provide many voters with the leeway to support tough Tory policies
The 'politics of and' understands that tender policies don’t require an abandonment of tough policies. Breadth isn’t an alternative to depth – it permits it to happen.
For example, a tough policy on immigration is sounder (ethically and electorally) if it is accompanied by a strong commitment to international development. A strong international development agenda (adventurously promoted and not just treated as a one speech, tick box policy) reassures moderate voters who want to know that sealed borders don’t also mean a closed mind to the needs of the world’s poorest people.
A few examples of theoretical ‘Ands’
- A commitment to actively support healthy, traditional marriages and fair pension and inheritance arrangements for gay adults…
- A bigger budget for the armed forces and an end to the sale of arms to despotic regimes…
- Faster, longer imprisonment of repeat offenders and more care for the vulnerable children of prisoners...
- A willingness to confront the Islamic roots of global terrorism and and more opportunities for mainstream British Muslims to set up state-funded schools...
The ‘And theory’s ‘broader and deeper’ policies will allow the Conservative Party to narrow the shortfall between its own popularity and that of the tough ‘core vote’ policies it holds. The shortfall reflects the fact that the Tories aren't liked enough to be trusted to pursue tough policies on immigration and crime.
Good for me and good for my neighhbour
Launching his Centre for Social Justice, Iain Duncan Smith has explained the ‘And theory’ this way:
Related link: Ten point briefing on the 'politics of and'.
“The Conservative Party is at its best when it reaches beyond the safety of familiar constituencies. When Margaret Thatcher extended home ownership to millions of council house tenants she didn’t just do the right thing morally she did the right thing politically, too.
As leader of the Conservative Party I put forward policies that were designed to help people who haven’t expected help from the Conservative Party – or any political party – for a very longtime. Policies like visible, neighbourhood policing of Britain’s toughest estates... The right to choose for parents of children trapped in failing, inner city schools... Support for a more innovative voluntary sector... I’m glad that Michael Howard is keeping and developing these and similar policies. They’re right for people in need and they’re right for the Conservative Party.
Conservatives have the right policies on crime and immigration... The right policies on patient and parental choice... The right policies on tax. But that isn’t enough. Voters want a political party to be good for them and good for their neighbour. They want a Conservative Party that makes the nation stronger and brings it together. Core Conservative policies giving people the right to choose and making the streets safe must work for Britain’s poorest people.”