In Depth

The Good Right: a soft ‘n’ furry Tory alternative

Tim Montgomerie and Stephan Shakespeare propose a new compassionate Conservatism. Here’s how…

Columnist Nigel Horne

Is there a place for a new Conservative agenda that is genuinely compassionate and that appeals far beyond the limits of the current Conservatism as dictated by David Cameron, George Osborne and their election strategist Lynton Crosby? In short, forget the ‘nasty party’ and embrace the ‘good right’

As the Daily Telegraph’s James Kirkup argues today, Cameron has ditched every one of his attempts to make the Conservatives attractive to non-Conservatives. Where is the Big Society? The care for the environment? Admiration for public services? Not “banging on” about Europe? 

All gone, says Kirkup, as Crosby “holds sway” and “those who seek to make the party a broader electoral church are marginalised”.

Crosby and party chairman Grant Shapps are also in the firing line for the unpleasant US-style “attack ads” against Ed Miliband being run on YouTube.

Two senior Tories, Theresa May and Esther McVey, yesterday broke ranks to say they disapprove of the ads; the Home Secretary called for a more “positive” message from Tory HQ while the Employment Secretary said: “I don't agree with that… You stand by your policies.”

Well, the Times columnist Tim Montgomerie and YouGov CEO Stephan Shakespeare think the time is right to remind the British that there is an alternative and have just launched The Good Right – a framework for a new, improved Conservative agenda.

It’s not fully fledged – they’re inviting further ideas – but among their proposals are: above-inflation increases in the minimum wage to encourage employers to invest in a more highly skilled workforce; a state-supported house-building programme designed to cut the future cost of housing benefits; and a rule that all private schools - all of which are charities, don’t forget - should be forced by law to accept 25 per cent of their intake as scholarship boys and girls, funded by the State on a means-tested basis.

As James Forsyth of The Spectator writes, “Not everyone on the right will agree with every idea that Montgomerie and Shakespeare propose. But what is undoubtedly true is that there is a need for a Conservatism that has a broader appeal and a more clearly defined moral purpose.”

Readers wanting to learn more should visit The Good Right website. To give a taste of their offering, here are Montgomerie and Shakespeare’s 12 “foundational beliefs”:

1. Enterprise: Innovation and job creation drive material progress.

2. Respect: The highest form of charity is to give someone their independence.

3. Optimism: There has NEVER been a better time to be alive.

4. Virtue: The basis of democratic capitalism is provided by moral citizens.

5. Family: No social power counts for more than the love of parents for their children.

6. Responsibility: The State cannot love YOUR neighbour as well as YOU can.

7. Government: It is NOT the enemy.

8. Solidarity: A provision of a generous minimum income for those who can't help themselves.

9 Rehabilitation: Let's build the nation of the second chance.

10. Pragmatic: Neither socialist nor libertarian.

11. Modern: Traditional social institutions endure but there must be zero tolerance of violent behaviour, violent language or exclusion of gay people.

12. Transparency: See-through government is smaller, more effective government.

As Forsyth argues in The Spectator, “What is being crafted here is a new Conservative agenda for someone to adopt in a future leadership race.”

Perhaps Esther McVey will take note: in the same Loose Women interview in which she expressed her distaste for the YouTube attack ads, she admitted that she has ambitions to be Prime Minister.

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