Another group has launched within the Conservative Party to argue for blue collar conservatism (usefully, it’s called Blue Collar Conservatives).
So far in the last few years, we’ve seen 2020 Conservatives, the 301, the 40, Fresh Start, Free Enterprise, Conservative Voice, Bright Blue, us, Deep Blue, the Growth Factory, and I think Douglas Carswell’s ever-increasing output (and vociferous supporters) allows him to be classed as a one-man group too.
There are others such as Right Angle, Conservative Friends of International Development and think tanks and pressure groups completely outside the party which focus either on specific issues or more on people outside the Conservative Party itself so I’m going to ignore them for now.
They add to the Tory Reform Group (of which, declaration of interest, I am a board member) and its parliamentary branch Mainstream and the Bow Group. I am aware (and apologise) that there are some I’ve missed off, no doubt.
I know this is a bit broad brush but I would argue that most of the above groups would describe themselves as in favour of Conservatism for today and into the future (I hesitate to use the word modernising). So why are there so many of them? I know people in every single one of these groups and we have so much in common.
Almost two years ago, I wrote for the Spectator’s Coffeehouse about the unnecessarily aggressive need for some Conservatives to fight with each other rather than for their beliefs and to their potential constituents. My main point still stands: Conservatism must evolve and update constantly.
At the moment, it feels to me as if all these groups are fighting over something that isn’t in contention – should we be electorally appealing? The real question is, how should we do that?
I know this is a huge and possibly unachievable ambition, but I’d really like all these different groups to work together in partnership, making the case for what we believe in to the people it matters to (voters) rather than yelling at each other all the time. We could call it… oh I don’t know. The Conservative Party?
But if that doesn’t work, at the very least all the different groups might like to talk to each other occasionally. Collaborate where they agree. Work out what to do where they don’t. Effectively use their (mostly) limited resources so that we don’t duplicate over and over again. And move the argument on from ‘this is WRONG’ to ‘this is what we think needs to be done’. One of the most depressing things about politics today is that everyone starts off by saying ‘We are not x, or we wouldn’t do y’. That’s fine, as it goes, but the important thing is what you would do. Specifics. Practical. Workable. And most importantly deliverable.