This week, the first fully Conservative Cabinet in eighteen years met in Downing Street. It was a victory which flummoxed the pollsters, and which has left many on the left in spasms of rage. Contrary to the hyperbolic reaction of some, the election of a majority Conservative government will allow much needed reforms to gather pace. On a long list of issues, from the economy to education, the government will be able to proceed with vital policies which will prevent the country sliding further into the abyss left by over a decade of Labour government.
Firstly, the economy. The Coalition Government’s record has often been understated. David Cameron was the first Prime Minister to preside over an economy which created 1000 jobs a day. Unemployment continues to fall, and is now at a seven year low. Regular pay is now growing at its fastest rate for almost four years, and is finally outstripping inflation. Rather than throwing more money at the gargantuan public sector, the majority of jobs created thus far have been in private industry. The next government can once again start to look towards recovery and growth.
On the issue of Europe, the Conservative government will deliver an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union. Though Cameron is a dyed-in-the-wool Europhile, as shown by the Lisbon Treaty mess, he has been forced to this point by an increasingly Eurosceptic parliamentary party and public. It is often argued that a referendum is unnecessary, as the debate has already been laid to rest. This ignores the frightening growth of the Brussels bureaucracy in the proceeding decades, the gloom of ‘ever closer union,’ and the resultant ending of the United Kingdom as a sovereign nation. The public will once more be able to have their say, to the chagrin of the internationalists.
With the threat of Labour’s egalitarian education policy now extinguished, the Government can take forward its crucial reforms. Though not offering a return of the grammar school system, which to my mind is the true Conservative policy, the free school policies initiated under Michael Gove have ignited an education revolution. A new report from Policy Exchange highlights how these schools – which are independently run, while still being supported by the taxpayer – are much more motivated to consider the way in which they provide education, and the need for improvement. Free schools offer a superior model for failing schools to aspire to. They make it clear to local state schools that they must improve to remain viable. Faiths, charity groups, private companies, and voluntary organisations all have a part to play in restoring rigour, discipline, and a sense of purpose to education in this country. We can look forward to a continued expansion of the programme in this Parliament.
The Prime Minister can now seek to further devolve power and responsibility to communities and individuals. His ‘Big Society’ initiative has been roundly mocked by its opponents, and attacked as a ‘smokescreen’ for public spending cuts. However, such thinking is crucial to a Conservative, Burkean vision of society. Community organisations, faith groups, and charities should be empowered at the expense of the state. Greater civic responsibility will help us face up to our modern, broken society, suffering from endemic levels of family breakdown, material greed, and nihilism. For, ‘to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind.’
Image: ResoluteSupportMedia , FLICKR