“Time to reject the ideological templates provided by the socialist left and the libertarian right and to embrace a new centre ground in which government steps up – and not back – to act on behalf of us all.”
Since Theresa May became the Prime Minister we at Conservatives for Liberty have been in a state of confusion. Having railed against her policies for years as an illiberal Home Secretary, we were surprised to have had so much to praise her for in the initial stage of her premiership. The brief love affair is seemingly now over.
We felt buoyant at our extremely successful conference event Freedom Fizz in which over 400 members of the Liberal Right of the Conservative Party gathered together in a show of unity, strength and celebration. The very next day our leader and Prime Minster apparently declared war on us in an alarming speech which steered the Party sharply to the Left.
We now know what Mayism will look like; it’s a form of paternalistic “Tory socialism”. In a speech full of lines that could have been spoken by Ed Miliband; it was made perfectly clear that the ideas of Liberal, free marketers are to be marginalised as we were dismissed scornfully as unreasonable ideologues. Yet her claims to be advancing a non-ideological, pragmatic form of politics simply do not ring true. Her speech was in-fact deeply ideological; it was statist and economically interventionist with an anti-business tone.
We do hope that the Prime Minster does not forget about the successes of the Cameron/Osborne years. Yes, Osborne missed his targets and weakened in deficit reduction, not to mention being far too keen on Brownite stealth taxes, but the pro-business policies of the Cameron/Osborne Government helped to create a booming UK labour market which led to a job creation miracle; this was the driving force behind our economic recovery.
It is baffling that Theresa May, who served in that Government for six years, is determined to put that success under threat with her interventionism and populist caricaturing of business leaders as tax evading villains living off cheap labour and doing British workers down. The Conservative Party should be unashamedly pro-business; especially given the uncertain time ahead as we negotiate our way out of the EU.
The policy floated by Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, that companies who hire “too many” foreign workers will be “named and shamed” is absurd. It is a disgracefully anti-business policy that demonises foreign people who are here legally, working hard. If British businesses are so keen on hiring foreign workers it would be better for this Government to question whether young Britons have the skills, education and work ethic required to compete in our open and dynamic labour market.
There are in-fact 28.1 million British-born people in work today, up 400,000 since 2015, and the evidence that foreign born workers are displacing natives and depressing wages is far from extensive or conclusive. In order to make our young people more employable, we need to look at further education reforms, and ensure that our welfare system does not make idleness an attractive proposition.
The Miliband-esque proposals to bring in energy price controls, implement state industrial strategies and put in place employee representation were particularly appalling and, given that they fly in the face of all evidence that shows them to be poor policies, they are purely ideological.
If the PM wants to reduce the price of energy, she should repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act and get fracking; price controls will hinder investment and risk brownouts or worse. As for industrial strategies, surely the appalling deal struck for Hinckley adequately demonstrates how poor the state is at strategizing? The gimmick policy of employee and/or customer representation on company boards has not worked in Germany, as corporate scandals and the decline in the value of German firms, clearly shows.
We call on the Prime Minister to lead a pro-business Government that understands the solutions that a free market brings and curb this turn to the Left. Reducing the deficit, cutting taxes and allowing business the freedom to flourish and compete is what will bring prosperity and growth to the UK. State interventionism and bashing business will do far more damage than any uncertainty over Brexit negotiations.
So, what do you do if you believe in a balanced budget, free markets, lower taxes and a state that interferes less in our lives? Join Conservatives for Liberty and help us increase our influence!
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty