« ICM: Conservatives 12% ahead as Cameron's advantage over Brown widens | Main | Cameron targets Brown's lethal combination of hyperactivity and ineffectiveness »


The fact that the Conservative Party believe in less government. Believe that governments can do no right makes them the least capable of any of the parties of mending our society and instituting any meaningful social reform.

"The more laissez-faire members of the Conservative coalition argue that government has no business in trying to build stronger families or supporting not-for-profit organisations. I disagree. A suspicion of government is healthy, but can be dangerous if it mushrooms into blanket hostility."

The general belief of such people (myself included) is that a large state tends to throttle the family and voluntary institutions even if it doesn't mean to. When the welfare state was first being introduced in the 1900s it was supposed to supplement the friendly societies etc. Suffice to say it evnded up replacing them. Withdraw the state and allow families and civil society to step into the vacuum.

You say - quite correctly - in your excellent article "Tories should also seek to be judged according to their success at helping parents to stay together and to spend more time with their children ...."

But what measures will be used?

In the Audit Commission report "Hearts and minds: commissioning from the voluntary sector" the authors recommended:

"Local public bodies should “Improve how they measure value for money in public services, by shifting the current focus on inputs, outputs, and unit costs, towards long-term measurement of outcomes and effectiveness.”

When shall we see a Social Capital Index?

Why has there been no debate in Tory circles about the inadequacy of statistics and indices to measure social wellbeing by neighbourhood so that local policies and programmes can be evaluated?

One day, a Conservative will look at the New Labour years and realise that Labour truly wanted to improve society, but it unintentionally proved that more government intervention makes things worse whilst trying to make things better.

It is too much government intervention in itself that is the problem, not simply that New Lab were incompetent at it and the Tories will interfere 'better'.

The answer really is less government, not 'different intervention' but then that would mean less power for politicians.

Jack, you are simply wrong, as usual. Conservatives understand the limits of Govt and have roots in personal responsibility, because of this they would be able, above all others, to instigate a practical culture of ground up voluntary revival.

So simple and yet potentially so crucial. 'Middle England' will lap up these reforms because it will help keep government spending down while keeping families together. That said, the ultimate success of these policies will come down to how brave Cameron will be.

"On welfare, we need strict limits on the time that claimants can access help"

This will only make people destitute for being unemployed. Remember that there are two million on front-line JSA unemployment and only ever half a million vacancies at the best end of the economic cycle. Even with all vacancies filled this leaves one and a half million people who cannot possibly work. Do you intend to cut off their access to money and create a climate for social breakdown and crime?

In the long-term the answer to mass unemployment is to make Britiain a nation that produces again, with a large manufacturing base. In the short-term fully waged public works programmes should be established and built into the benefits system, so that people who cannot find work are offered a 12 month contract. This is the only way to deal with this problem.

"In the long-term the answer to mass unemployment is to make Britiain a nation that produces again, with a large manufacturing base"

What *exactly* should Britain be producing?

What happens if British people don't want to buy 'it'?

I am rather with ToryBlog on this one. The more that Government at a national and local level intervenes in my life, I have: less money, less choice, more incovenience and fewer opportunities to make decisisons in the best interests of myself, my family and my community.

A good deal of what Tim says about morality and conduct is aspirationally true, and would lead to a better society. However, I am very (and daily growing more) sceptical over the degree to which the talentless amateurs within the political and bureaucratic arms of government can improve my life rather than make it immeasurably worse.

I much enjoyed this thoughtful article. It wiould be unfortunate if it were to prompt a simplistic 'more government versus less government' argument, in my view, because the key thing is what kind of government activity will improve the quality of community and individual life.

In my view socialism – and that includes a huge swathe of policies introduced and supported by the Conservative governments of recent years – has no answers to offer. The welfare state – at least the benefits culture – was in my view a major wrong turn, however well-intentioned it obviously was. By sending the powerful and unmistakable signal that people no longer have duties to their families and those around them because ‘the State’ or ‘the government’ will take ultimate responsibility, welfare statism has done as much as untrammeled individual 'stuffism' (chasing after excessive stuff - money, things, status, celebrity etc - in the mistaken view that it will make us happy) to break down and degrade the social nexus that in my experience delivers real quality of life and peace of mind. I find it extraordinary and frightening that when three people torture and murder a baby in Haringey it is the Director of Social Services who attracts the national opprobrium, with hardly a word of criticism for those actually responsible – the mother and the other men directly involved. On a smaller scale, perhaps, I have lost count of the number of times I have watched people stand in front of a litter bin throwing sweet papers on the floor, knowing that in the eyes of the Audit Commission, the press, the opposition and even some of my frontline colleagues I, as Environment portfolio holder, am to blame, not the perpetrator.

The Conservatives are traditionally the party of the local community and of personal responsibility, though some of our policies have not always delivered in these areas. Government can provide various 'nudges' can be offered to guide society along a broadly healthy path without taking responsibility from people for their own lives. A weak and faltering economy is certainly one cause of breakdown of contentment, but it is not the only one.

I strongly welcome the pro-govt tone to this piece.

Govt should be small but conservatives should recognise it has a role.

As Tim writes we need focused government, streamlined government.

Because Labour wants to do everything it does nothing well.

Matt Wright. The greatest instigater of change in this country as always and will always be the government. The governmemnt as to take the lead in changing the country but as the Conservative Party want to limit government and do not on the whole believe it can be a force for good they are totally unfit to instigate the real change this country needs.

Robert Putnam is the great theorist of 'social capital'.Unfortunately his empirical findings were that the more a society is 'diverse',the less social capital there is.
This flummoxed Putnam who did not release his findings until he had thought up some (completely unbelievable)reasons to reconcile his findings with the great mantra of 'diversity'.

ToryBlog, we already have a domestic market that we can corner, and its down to government to create the conditions to make it profitable for British business to produce, that means radical ideas on tax to allow entrepreneurs the freedom to operate. However that can only happen if British business has 'first option' on our domestic market. That is, we should not be importing goods that we are able to produce ourselves and we should impose a wage-equalization-tariff on all nations that use sweatshop labour to undercut British business.

The problem with Conservative thinking on welfare reform is that it has moved away from helping people find pathways into work and has now gone down a negative and punitive route. The Conservative plan to end/reduce benefits for people who have been out of work after a given time is based on the false assumption that unemployment is self-inflicted. Its a definite vote loser, especially in a time of recession and should be scrapped.

I've heard your generalisations a million times. Please could you identify a specific industry and what action you would like to happen?

Your idea sounds barking, but it really is impossible to judge fairly and argue against without giving a specific case as a good example of your overall point.

Again, the Social Justice System misses the point. Family breakdown is not the cause of poverty - it's a symptom. Poverty is not caused by poor education - the massive overwhelming factor in success at school (whatever school) is whether your parents are middle class.

"Light touch regulation" is simply an opportunity for large business to nationalise losses, abuse employees and privatise its gains - look at the banking and mining sector. Tax regimes can be nudged to encourage long term investments, prevent a massive imbalance between the highest and lowest paid employees and encourage good environmental practices.

Looking to the US for welfare reform ideas is an appallingly bad idea. The huge poverty found there, despite their riches, is a direct product of this. Look to Sweden or Canada, not the US.

It's all about blame the individual. Goverment policy and big business can massively affect the lives of a huge swathe of the population: you can certainly point the finger of blame at individuals, but that is absolutely no use whatsoever in formulating government policy. Solutions need to be practical and based on statistical analysis, not moral judgements about individuals. If zero-tolerance policing to low-level crime is a proven success, pilot it. If sending every single young offender on holiday to Majorca for two weeks reduces recidivism, do it (I suspect it wouldn't!)

I'd much rather hear more about "nudging."

Narcissism is so unedifying.
Whatcha going to do about the fact that English university students graduate with a whopping great bill (soon to get bigger if the universities have their way)?
Whatcha going to do about the fact that Welsh and Scottish NHS patients will get free prescriptions?, English patients costs will rise in April.
Whatcha going to do about the fact that English care home residents have to sell their homes in order to pay the bills?
Whatcha going to do about the fact that English patients have to drag their frail bodies through the courts to get drugs that are readily avsilable in Scotland and Wales?
Blah blah and yet more blah is all we get from the CONservative party.
Lets hear some answers to the above questions.
I have many more but that's a start.

ToryBlog, if you are familiar with my views why do you ask? Anyhow you can read my article which explains how we can put people back to work.


I'm looking for a simple example that you have in mind. The constant generalisations just don't offer anything useful in trying to understand your point.

You talk about 'goods' etc but I am trying to extract a real world example that you have considered as I disagree profoundly with the generalisation, and wanted to see if this is pie-in-the-sky, or you have an idea that could work.

ToryBlog.com is a misleading description of a UKIP supporter.

LoL - I'm not a member of any party, and support the views of certain individuals in both the Tories and UKIP.

ToryBlog, it will be interesting to hear how you would put millions back to work? If you support more of the same free-trade you will get more of the same unemployment. You describe the development of an internal market as 'barking' but what are your ideas?

The Makara-ToryBlog.com exchange is off topic.

And TRG Tory is right; Please change your name, GB£/ToryBlog, to something more honest.

Thank you.

I've tried to engage with you, to eek out a real world example to understand and judge your ideas, but now understand that this will not be forthcoming.

I was hoping for something like, the x industry has suffered directly because of foreign y and this could be solved by the government doing z. This would then be a real idea that could be evaluated and countered with different solutions.

So many things look good on paper (although imho I find yours terrible, not an attack, just my opinion) until the detail is defined, and I am sure it will not be difficult to explain how your plan would completely fail, if you would just give one example as above that would support your top-level view.

If we are going to keep things so meaninglessly vague, we may as well agree that the government policy on all matters should be 'good' then pack up and enjoy the sunshine...

Well said editor. I think we are all sick of people who come on here under a 1001 monikers and have nothing constructive to say but just attempt to ruin threads with niggling comments and in some instances personal abuse. Those who don't contribute constructively to serious debate should have their IP noted and then be banned from posting on Conservative Home.

As someone who has only supported the Lilico/Redwood approach to the credit crunch, dismissing the policies of every other party and will be voting Tory in the GE, in what way is my name inappropriate?

I see you aren't making similar demands on others who have 'Tory' in their name...

Should you not be equally honest and change your name to rabid-BBC-Hater to highlight the point behind your weak rants?

I'm trying to be constructive but I guess you'll take criticism as an excuse to overwrite my comment...

"Adults who stay free of drug and alcohol dependency."
It always struck me as perverse that a person could qualify for additional money in the form of DLA, for being an alcoholic or drug addict. I am of course well aware that Alcohol does great damage to the body and minds of those afflicted, but would it not be better to invest in extra places at rehabs. As it is we give extra money to people who without doubt spend it on further alcohol and or drugs worsening their condition. In addition the truth is that Heroin addiction in its self is not disabling and should not be rewarded by extra DLA.

" A welfare state that encourages personal industry, not dependency."

This requires that we have a welfare state that is tailored to each individual and their needs. Those who argue for a simplified system with a single out of work benefit are both shortsighted and mean spirited. We should be looking at each individual and we should help all those who are able, to engage in meaningful and profitable work.

"The more laissez-faire members of the Conservative coalition argue that government has no business in trying to build stronger families or supporting not-for-profit organisations. I disagree" And so do I. We need to strengthen the family and put it were it belongs, at the very centre of our society. We should respect the married couple above those who cohabit, and should encourage people to marry. A proper family is the best place to bring up children, and the extended family is the best organisation to care for the members of that family. Labour is basically against the family which it fears as a rival for the loyalty of the individual. We should not make the same mistake and build our reborn nation around the family. We should be aware that the Nation is a collective of Families.

"On welfare, we need strict limits on the time that claimants can access help"

This would be absolutely fine if we were in a situation of near full employment. We cannot get out of our obligation to help the sick and disabled.I do not imagine that you intend by this to abandon the sick to starvation now do you?
We need a welfare state that engages with claimants to ensure that they are helped back into work as soon as possible. Only by regularly reviewing the claim can we ensure that people don't simply give up. The small number of feckless and lazy people who see in our benefit system an opportunity for a life of ease, should be quickly discovered and treated accordingly. Lets not forget that we have the power to prosecute people, for persistently failing to maintain themselves. A few high profile cases of this type would be well worth the cost to the public purse.

"Conservatives need to articulate a moral ambition" Absolutely as a small state will be worthless, if it crime has risen because we have thousands of unemployed people who no longer receive any help from the state.
If we are going to go the same way as the USA then perhaps we should consider privatising the prisons, so at least some body can benefit from the inevitable rise in crime that would be the sideeffect of short term unemployment benefits being withdrawn.
We need to build a new Great Britain built around age old concepts, like the Family and civic duty. We should of course encourage people to help themselves but we should not imagine that we can abandon the sick or disabled, indeed we should be doing far more for the Carers who currently get little reward for saving the nation billions. We need a Conservative government, and Britain needs a Conservative revolution. Only the Conservative party can deliver the mixture of hardheadedness and compassion, that can rebuild our communities. At the very centre of our policies should be a commitment to the Family and doing the right thing.

Tony, I actually posted a link last week (or maybe the week before) on the main page especially for you showing that we our manufacturing production is at record levels. The difference is that in the past where you had men, you now have machines. That is why I doubt a mass conversion to manfacturing will solve unemployment. Germany manufactures more than us and their unemployment has been higher for years.

RichardJ, China has shown the potential of manufacturing, the service sector alone cannot produce enough jobs for a population of our size. The British economy is too fragmented with SMEs unable to compete against foreign competiton.

We need to roll back socialist legislation that restricts mergers and pull down the barriers to employment such as the minimum wage and restrictions on working hours etc. Government can help by awarding manufacturing a special tax status, enouraging the growth of this key sector.

I ask all readers of this website to look around their homes, to look at what has been imported, TV, Sofa, lightbulbs etc and ask "Could we have made these things ourselves?" providing jobs for our own people? The Conservative leadership need to understand that the development of an internal market is the way to put people back to work and guarentee economic security for generations to come.

I'm not discussing this with you ToryBlog. I've made a decision. You have not been a loyal member of the Conservative Party and your name must reflect that. If you abide by this your comments are still welcome even if I disagree with them.

OK, name updated Father Tim. I do hope that you will add a Beeb-hating suffix to your own name in the spirit of openness too... ;-)

May I ask why the Makara is allowed to continue with his off-topic drivel on this thread though even after you told him to stop?

Couldn't you just call yourself NotaToryBlog.com? It's shorter! ;-)

All other other off topic comments will be overwritten. And, yes, Tony is off topic.


"we aren't yet seeing enough radicalism on crime, welfare or the renewal of the voluntary sector. On crime we need New York-style policing"

Back on topic (!) it does seem to me that a great deal could be learned from Conservative Councils such as H&F, Westminster and Wandsworth with a good record in this area. Kit Malthouse could also have a great deal of input.

Social justice starts with having a democracy in which politicians listen to the voice of the people who elect them.

A recent BBC2 Poll conducted by ComRes for the 'Daily Politics' show between 13th and 16th March 2009, reveals that a majority of British people want to leave the European Union.


People aren't seeking negotiations, new parties or some dream of social justice, they're seeking an end to the very things which have upended most of their lives. An end to Euro directives and a new government which can deliver on its pledges and one which listens to the people.

Until you have that, there'll be no 'social justice' in the UK.

Editor, why am I off-topic given that the thread raises the question of welfare reform? Which, I'm sure you'll agree, cannot be achieved unless jobs are created. My post centres on the measures needed for job-creation. I was trying to make constructive comments, it was ToryBlog who was adding nothing to the debate.

Are you going to allow ToryBlog to bully you into censoring the very people who have supported Conservative Home on an almost daily basis? Our loyalty to this website and to the party itself warrants a fairer response.

In the main, in agreement with the article.
But joined-up, ie consistency needs to be more explicit.

"On welfare, we need strict limits on the time that claimants can access help"
The joined up bit is that help is effective. The JobCentres as are now, are not effective help. Privatising bits seems to lead to much squabbling, and New Deal is seen as a waste of resources. Perhaps to achieve effective JobCentre, in its old-fashioned way as THE Labour-Exchange, hiring and firing regulations will have to be relaxed and a much modified entry\exit culture (less bureaucracy) for small business will be required. Will the two supporting pillars to make Welfare Reform work be implemented? And they have to be implemented first. I think you will have a battle.

In the off-topic manufacturing, I would just say China substitutes labour for capital machinery to produce cheaply. To produce in the Western way would lead to mass unemployment in China. End of.

On the moral purpose, it is a fine tricky line. You want to instil from strong local communities, families, villages, constituencies, counties a strong national identity without instilling chauvinism and nationalistic xenophobia. It is a question of building pride based upon confidence and trust. The confidence and trust that no matter what happens, as nation down to the family we will pull together and each will do their bit. Get it wrong and we have Stalinist type resurrections of the acceptance of religion to unify against external enemies. I am wary of overt moral purposes whilst acknowledging the good they can do.

Education must be the core of the social agenda, both upbringing and teaching. At present the upbringing is abandoned and thus teachers function as holding-pen managers in some schools and once school is over uncontrolled behaviour has little or no sanction. This spills over into poorer teaching as time becomes more limited. To skill properly, FE needs breaking back down into good apprenticeships, Polys and Unis and much stronger links between Polys and business. This is the way to compete better internationally, give people a sense of pride, real work and less time to enjoy the lures of chilling out on other people's munny.

You were also writing about protectionism Tony.

I agree with most of Tim's points except time limited benefits. As has previously been stated it is not practical in the present climate and even the US under Obama has begun to abandon it and extent benefits due to the dire economic situation. Hoever, by all means ensure claimants are improving their skills and actively seeking work.

Editor, helping British business to gain an advantage in supplying the British market is a way of creating jobs and taking people off benefits.

Ask the US president. He is planning to do the same for American workers.

The Tories policy with families doesnt really work for me as Ive said before. I dont believe that pushing for marriage as a salvation for families is an idea that will reap many rewards because marriage in itself acheives little. Financial inducements arent likely to encourage much. The Conservatives are still too reluctant to talk about the consequences of family breakdown. Children in care and single parents are two issues which the Conservatives have been very quiet about (boarding schools is an idea I wouldnt put much hope in, given the findings of the source report Gove referred to in his proposing speech) and it has been an awfully long time coming.

Supporting marriage is all well and good, but there must be far more to come from the Conservatives than that...

People have their own aims and aspirations - the government have no place imposing their own agenda.

People naturally organise their lives in the way that makes them happiest within the restrictions of the resources/opportunities available to them.

Any programme that seeks to go against the nature of the people is a really a 'make work' scheme for do-gooders that will never end, it will just go on consuming our wealth forever.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker