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What is Mainstream Conservatism?

Tim Montgomerie

Yesterday I introduced the idea of "Mainstream Conservatism". Here's an initial attempt to define its beliefs...

MAINCON The need to actively build an alternative to Liberal Conservatism: The Liberal Conservatives who want an ongoing alliance with the Liberal Democrats are organising. They are arguing publicly and behind-the-secenes for a continuing arrangement between today's two governing parties. Mainstream Conservatives must also organise and prove that there is a better future for the Conservative Party and the country.

Working with the Liberal Democrats, while good, is far from perfect: Co-operation with the Liberal Democrats in government is working well, but far from perfectly. It is working well in the sense that deficit reduction is being delivered and important welfare and localist reforms are underway. Unfortunately, however, the Liberal Democrats are also blocking key education reforms, action to support the family and repeal of European human rights laws. As the economic emergency passes the Left of the Liberal Democrats is likely to re-assert itself.

Mainstream Conservatives are Modern Conservatives: Mainstream Conservatives do not want to jettison the new breadth of Conservatism. Mainstream Conservatives believe in the social justice of Iain Duncan Smith, the civil libertarianism of David Davis, the internationalism of Andrew Mitchell, the transparency revolution, respect for gay people and the green conservatism of Tory councils.

Mainstream Conservatism is Popular Conservatism: Opposition to the EU superstate, lower taxation, a fair deal for English taxpayers and a tough approach to crime are not right-wing issues. They are not causes that Conservatives should be embarrassed about. They are causes supported by the vast majority of the British people but not by the left-wing majority of the Liberal Democrat party.

The centrality of Increasing Economic Growth: Mainstream Conservatives believe that the Conservative Party can win the next election if economic growth is restored. Mainstream Conservatives believe that tough measures to increase British competitiveness are as important as measures to reduce the deficit. A competitiveness agenda includes repeal of penal taxation, modernisation of trade union laws and a focus on high-growth small businesses.

We cannot go into the next election with the same campaign structure that lost the last: Mainstream Conservatives believe that we need to build a 21st Century campaigning operation. That includes the building of British politics' largest and most intelligent email and social networking database. It means building a network of relationships with third party campaigning groups. It means poll-testing of all beliefs so that they are sold to voters in the best possible ways. It means a party that isn't dominated by a small group at the centre but is an open party where every member and MPs plays a significant role. It means a Conservatism of retail policies, not of abstract ideas.



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