A fresh statement of ConservativeHome's purpose
By Tim Montgomerie
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Over the last few weeks you may have noticed that ConservativeHome has gone through a bit of an evolution? Positions I have taken on the NHS Bill, the taxation of wealth, devolution for England and working class candidates haven't appealed to every reader. Some think this site only exists to represent the grassroots. Some think it should only ever be the authentic voice of true Conservatism (whatever that is). My focus has shifted somewhat. ConHome will continue to be the things I set out below but I see plotting a road to a majority at the next election as a central mission. On the Majority section of this website, from now until polling day, we'll be looking at the kind of manifesto, machine and message that will help deliver a Conservative majority. Some of that may, at times, make uncomfortable reading but something has to change if our party is going to address the fact that at the last four general elections we've received just 31%, 32%, 32% and 36% of the vote. My own belief is that the essential change we need to make is to convince 'the striving class' that we are on their side. I write a little more about this in today's Guardian, arguing that our party's attitude to unearned wealth is much more of a Clause IV moment than embracing gay marriage. I don't expect to get everything right on the Majority section (Bernard Jenkin has already critiqued my idea for a polling day referendum on the EU) but it's vital we have a debate about why we've lost four successive elections and whether the Tory leadership's plan to win the next one is up to the job.
- By 8.30am every weekday we publish a comprehensive news guide to everything significant that's happening in the Conservative Party. We've been doing this now for nearly seven years. Our seventh anniversary is on Easter Monday.
- We aim to represent every strand of opinion within the party. Readers may not agree with my support for gay marriage but they can read Peter Bone putting the other side of the argument. Within three hours of me making the argument to Kill the NHS BIll we had Sayeeda Warsi on ConHome defending Andrew Lansley's blueprint. On one day we may bash the Coalition for intefering with the workings of the Backbench Business Committee but on another day you can read Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, putting the case for the changes that he wanted to make. We certainly don't always agree among ourselves within the ConHome editorial team. Paul Goodman, for example, has opposed my position on greater taxation of high value properties.
- A bigger voice for the Tory grassroots. Despite what Ken Clarke said I don't pretend to represent every Tory grassroots member but ConHome's regular polls do ensure that the views of party members are at least heard in a way that wasn't true before this site was created. We also aim to campaign for members' rights. Our first campaign was against Michael Howard's unsuccessful attempt to stop party members choosing the Tory leader. Last year we highlighted the ways in which rank-and-file party members were being priced out of party conference.
- A balanced Conservatism. I used to call it the And theory of Conservatism and represented in the ConHome shields is the idea that we need a broad and balanced Conservative message. Yes to stricter control of immigration and yes to a development policy that provides help to the hungriest children on the planet. Yes to a tough prisons policy and yes to a policy that rebuilds that greatest of all crime preventer - the family. I think it's perfectly possible for the Conservative Party to be the party of Euroscepticism and conservation; of job creation and low tax; of the traditional family and respect for minorities. When we become a broad party again we'll also become the natural party of government again.
- A focus on winning the next election. This takes us back to where we started. The Coalition is doing many important things for the country but the Liberal Democrats are preventing the country from having the kind of Eurosceptic, crime-fighting and family-supporting government that many of us have long campaigned for and that we think Britain needs.
In all of this I thank my fellow ConHome team members. The ConservativeIntelligence clients for their support and for helping me understand the business world a great deal better. Stephan Shakespeare for helping this site get off the ground when noone else could see its value. For Lord Ashcroft for being the perfect owner - always giving political advice but never insisting on any editorial line. And most of all, of course, to you readers for your loyalty.