I have a conservative mind and am drawn emotionally towards social justice. The reason I have aligned with the Conservative Party is due to my strong belief in the value of preserving the individual family unit. I believe this factor leads both the social and economic success of our British culture.
When every child in our society is given the right support for its individual attainment — whether it be academic, vocational or artistic, — when indeed it is given every opportunity to grow, express and mature its innate talents then, naturally, we will have a society more full of productive and happy individuals. Such individuals will pool their resources together for their own personal prosperity and acquirement of property, as well as enhancing the national GDP/GNI.
Therefore, I am an advocate for the democracy of elevation against a democracy of degradation in which I am socially conservative and economically neo-liberal, though not completely a laissez-faire capitalist. For now, it can be considered a type of ‘Third-Way’ free market economics entailing property protection, free trade, tax cuts, deregulation of business (with due corporate tax collection for business activity conducted in mainland UK), greater privatisation of nationalised industries, regional devolution, environmental protection, and an effective welfare state: a social justice system with an active compassionate conservatism towards the needy and labour forces. It can be summed-up as near to the ‘New Right’, as advocated by Thatcher and Reagan, yet working earnestly to reduce the economic inequalities through access to fairer opportunities towards personal wealth creation and accumulation rather than state-dependency.
Aspiration is a term we often hear and this needs to be bolstered in our institutional psyche as an over-arching ethos, helping it to overbear the destructive strands of racism, greed and artificial class wars. We know every man is not created equal, but every man should be given equal opportunity to express his talents. I believe in helping others be a “doer rather than a done-for” as Cameron aptly puts it.
But politics is at once both history and argument. In order to tackle and answer the demanding questions of today, I believe we must have a proportionate amount of “progressive” ideals also. This fluidity between tradition and modernity will help keep-up with the varying dynamic shifts we experience as a thriving G8 country whilst being strategically well-positioned in a globalised economy. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand” and this, to me, seems to be a more pragmatic approach.
In an advanced techno-economy such as ours where technology has advanced many features of our lives, we must remember the negative and threatening impact it also brings, most notably, to the very social fabric of our society.
It is such conundrums of our modern times which we must treat in an open-minded way. It will be counter-productive to resist every useful change — whether in law and statute, or policy and practice — if we are disconnected with the realities of the challenges we are facing and their consequences. Therefore, my conservative mind leans towards the more permanent things docked within the spiritual realm, the artistic network, as well as in loving familial connections: providing a sense of certainty and continuity.
If we are to salvage ourselves from the precipice of self-destruction, where we are beguiled by the lures of post-modernity prosperity, then it is my firm belief that we make an earnest effort to return to conscientious self-reliance. A determination that has a respect for the mind, body and the soul, with a social morality anchored in the understanding of the self-worth and, as much possible, a mental ship harboured in the bay of appreciation in which the support of a harmonious family unit is adequately provided—beyond any state intervention to help individuals.
The more permanent things are often reflected in our humanity and morality, which does not have to stop at the door of the principle “do no harm to others”, it is a fallacy to think it so. Nay, it in fact incorporates the tradition of mild paternalism in which the rights of others are equally embodied in the rights towards the self: without it becoming overly selfish, which I think is what a totally laissez-faire mind-set and economy leads to.
Disraeli advocated a ‘One Nation’ policy where he stated autonomous actions needed to be balanced with a healthy sense of moral responsibility towards the self and others. How else can a father rear a child properly, justly and appropriately if he himself is an alcoholic? He must be fit-for-purpose and carry himself responsibly.
In this way, One Nation conservatism combined with a healthy degree of paternalism can help create a benevolent hierarchy that acts to institutionalise such social reforms in which the capitalistic, free enterprise market can bolster individual ambition, productivity and happiness —not at the expense of others, but rather with the recognition of their due needs and rights.
This recognition of social justice and human rights are paramount to our liberal society. We are fortunate to have before us a form of governance that permits us our most cherished of values: Freedom. We must not get carried-away with extreme notions that sever us from the de facto principles enshrined within the Magna Carta, the beginning of our uncodified constitution (1215).
As a nation, we have fought long and hard for the freedom we enjoy today in terms of religious tolerance and devolved power from the Crown, but most notably from Nazi and Communistic forces in the mid-twentieth century and the recent terrorist threats of the IRA, ISIS and al-Qaeda. I believe we are strong enough to similarly defeat such nonsensical groups and that such extremism will be kept at sea whenever it wrongfully takes the violent form.
Yet, with this, we must not cower to ideological and political debate. This is our hard-won democracy, and whosoever wants to profess their views, we should let them parler (‘to speak’, i.e. Parliament). I believe common sense will prevail amongst us, as it did in the General Election 2015, and subsequently, the freedom of thought, person, privacy, property, movement, residence, work, religion, morality, business and relationships must remain sanctified & protected, not jeopardised through illogical over-scrutiny and unabashed radicalism.
This principle of freedom and human dignity is recognised in all the world’s great religions and philosophies. To this end, I strongly believe in sharing our compassion to the extent where it recognises the ‘God in the Other’, as we are all from God, with those nearer to Him in thought and action being especially blessed: “blessed are the Peace-makers” and “Good-doers”.
Of course, people are entitled to believe as they wish and do as they please, within the lawful framework of the land. Yet, for me, all of this is taken with a view of differing human relationships on a global scale, not just a national one, with a deeper appreciation of localised history, culture, customs, law, beliefs, values, rationale and sensibilities.
I hope with this nuanced tolerance and realisation of our context I can add a fresh voice to the continued national debate and this is why I choose to serve as a conservative.
Dr Asad Khan is a healthcare management consultant and tweets as @asadrkhan
This article is part of our ongoing ‘Why I am a Conservative’ series, in which supporters of CfL talk about their beliefs and values. If you would like to take part please email blog@con4lib.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty