By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.
I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.
By Peter Hoskin
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Here's David Cameron's statement:
“I would like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.
I have really enjoyed working with him over the last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years.
There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal.
Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.
Above all, congratulations to Barack. I’ve enjoyed working with him, I think he’s a very successful US president and I look forward to working with him in the future.
By Tim Montgomerie
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A number of Tory MPs led by Damian Collins have come together to propose a new industrial strategy for Britain. Mr Collins explains how the approach recommended by him and his colleagues is different from the industrial strategy of the 1970s and also a mythical laissez-faire policy:
"The industrial strategy of the 1970s saw Governments give direct financial aid to failing industries in order to protect jobs. Here people were in effect being paid to build cars that customers didn’t want to buy. That approach was unsustainable and it was in time new ownership, leadership, design, innovation and the commitment of the workforce that ultimately saved businesses like Jaguar and Land Rover from the state run motor industry. 21st century industrial strategy is not just about identifying where direct financial assistance can help accelerate the development of a business or economic region, as we are seeing in the Government’s strategy for enterprise zones and the regional growth fund. This has also been important in the development of new economic clusters, like Tech City, where Government support has acted as a catalyst for private enterprises to bring in much greater levels of investment. In addition to this we have to ensure that our tax and regulatory environment helps UK firms that are competing in a global economy to thrive. This is why, for example, the tax credits announced in the last budget for the production of high end television series, animation and video games were so important. Despite the UK having some of the best practitioners in the world, we were losing business to other countries that could undercut us on price significantly because they offered tax incentives to investors."
By Matthew Barrett
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Of the Parliamentary groupings founded by MPs after the 2010 general election, the 2020 group is perhaps the least understood. Channel 4's Michael Crick and the FT (£) covered its launch during conference last year. Those two reports implied the 2020 group was a centre-left grouping pre-occupied with "countering the rise of the right". The 2020 is not about bashing the right. It's about upholding the ideas and optimism of the Cameron leadership era, and ensuring they can help inspire a majority Conservative government. In this profile, I will take a closer look at the 2020, its aims, role, and plans for the future.
Origins of the Group:
The 2020 was founded in Autumn 2011 by Greg Barker, the Minister of State for Climate Change, Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-upon-Avon), and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk), with Claire Perry (Devizes) joining soon after. It was launched at conference last year.
Members of the group (see below) are drawn from across the ideological spectrum (one member told me the 2020 tries to "reject the stale orthodoxies and dogmas of the old left versus right split in the Tory Party"), but members are united in wanting to develop conservatism and what the Party might look like in 2020. Founder George Freeman said: "The 2020 was set up as a forum to help the new Conservative generation define a modern progressive Conservatism for our times. What is the DNA that unites this diverse new generation? What are the long term social, economic, and technological changes that will shape our world? By tackling these and related questions we hope to help Conservatives define and dominate the radical centre ground of British politics."
Fellow founder Greg Barker explained another aspect of 2020's mission: "There's a strong strain of optimism that ran through the early Cameron message, and that message of change, hope and optimism, sometimes because of austerity, gets overshadowed, and we see ourselves as the guardians of that message".
By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the most encouraging things about today's Conservative Party is the liveliness of the Class of 2010. Starting tomorrow Matthew Barrett will be looking at the work of different backbench groups but here's a summary of some of the more interesting projects and thoughts launched by some of our newest MPs in recent days. I've arranged the list alphabetically...
First I direct you to a piece in yesterday's Observer by George Freeman. George is at the heart of a Tory interest in developing a new industrial strategy - not a return to a 1960s/70s policy of picking winners (or picking losers as invariably happened) but, in his slightly jargonistic words, the need to "focus on the technologies and sectors of the British innovation and knowledge economy which can best compete in the new markets of the developing world". He suggested five themes for his strategy including a focus on building deep relationships with emerging markets; development of innovation cities, corridors and neighbourhoods; and the identification and exploitation of technologies where we have a competitive advantage. Read more.
In yesterday's Sunday Times (£) Sam Gyimah called for new ways of graduates helping their universities to educate more young people, especially from less privileged backgrounds. Noting that barely 1% of UK alumni make gifts to their institutions compared to 10% in the USA he recommends mechanisms whereby graduates can keep paying into the student financing system even after they've repaid their own loans.
He began, as is customary, by giving a whistle-stop tour of his constituency which, he noted, he conducted himself during his three years as parliamentary candidate by bike - “following the instruction of the former Member for Chingford (Lord Tebbit), and more recently the example of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister — perhaps the only time that they have agreed”.
He then proceeded to express his frustration at how his rural constituency has been failed by the statist model of recent years:
“My constituency has come of late to feel increasingly marginalised, however. Tackling that sense of marginalisation in order to unlock the talents and aspirations of its people are, and will remain, the central theme of my work as its MP. The people of Mid Norfolk feel marginalised by the decision-making process and too often forced to change in ways that they have neither chosen nor like. The small, local, voluntary and rural is all too often crowded out by the big, national, professional and urban. As reported this week, rural Britain has been especially hard hit by unemployment during this recession, and my constituency has pockets of rural deprivation which are often hidden and invisible to the passer-by. Pensioner poverty can be especially invisible.
“Post offices, pubs and village shops close, while more and more people are forced to commute increasing distances from the mass housing estates that have been forced on our market towns and councils. In my three-year candidacy I insisted on another way. Opposition Members might call it a third way, but we call it the Norfolk way: a vision of a vibrant rural society based on a renaissance of rural enterprise; smaller pockets of mixed housing spread more fairly and sustainably; fast-growing small businesses and jobs back in our villages and towns; less commuting; a richer mix of ages; and blue and white-collar jobs in active communities.
“Some may ask, “Where are those new jobs and businesses to come from?” Let me tell the House. Situated between Norwich and Cambridge are two of the world’s leading centres of scientific research and innovation in food, biomedicine and the clean technologies of which my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) spoke earlier, all of which are so vital to the global challenges that we face, Mid Norfolk is perfectly positioned to become a hub of entrepreneurial activity and new jobs. With the world-leading John Innes centre, the Institute of Food Research, world-class agriculture and high-tech engineering along the A11 corridor, we can lead those new economic sectors on which we will increasingly depend.
“As someone who came to politics after a 15-year career in creating new technology businesses, I hope to be able to put my experience to good use in that area. However, that revolution cannot happen without two essential things: new models of investment in infrastructure, including the A11, rural broadband and rail links; and some local leadership.
“The stale post-war model of statist centralisation and dependence on the Whitehall handout has failed Norfolk and needs replacing if we are to have a sustainable recovery. The benefits of this empowerment and liberalism will not just be economic. Rural Britain is, I believe, the repository of some important virtues that our modern culture has neglected: a deep belief in self-help and responsibility; an insistence that everybody in a community has a role, and the rejection of a shallow media culture’s obsession with celebrity; and a love of the small, the different, and the local. These are qualities that are deeply rooted in the English character.
“The people of Mid Norfolk sent me here to speak up for them, so I shall. My constituents, proud of those values, have found themselves increasingly powerless in the face of a tidal wave of legislation and “big government” from Europe, Whitehall, and unaccountable regional quangos. Many worry that our culture has been hijacked by an increasingly intolerant, politically correct “anything goes” multiculturalism which seems to have too little respect for the longer traditions of tolerance, personal freedom and responsibility embedded in our traditional heritage. By pumping the bellows of local empowerment, I believe that we can reignite the embers of a culture which can and should be allowed to coexist with metropolitan Britain, to mutual benefit.
“At the heart of this manifesto is a big idea: that citizenship is not forged through the dependence on the state as espoused by new Labour and its philosopher king, Anthony Giddens, but through the empowering act of the state granting responsibility to its citizens. That is the central idea which has brought me into politics as a Conservative, and which I am delighted is once again the idea at the heart of modern Conservatism and this coalition.”