Britain needs change: few can doubt that. Our national finances are mired in massive debt.
Millions are living the misery of unemployment. Communities are shattered by crime and abuse.
People in the public services are trapped in a web of rules and regulations. People have lost faith that politics can fix our problems, or that politicians can lead us into a better future. There is a feeling of helplessness. once again, there is a mood afoot that the decline of Britain is inevitable.
But there is no law that says we must accept decline. We have the energy, the ideas and the ambition to get Britain back on track. And that includes everyone in Britain, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. if we join together, if we act decisively, and move forward with optimism, we can start to fix the economic, social and political problems that threaten the nation.
We can bring about the change Britain needs.
What is that change? Some promise solutions from on high – but real change comes from collective endeavour. So we offer a new approach: a change not just from one set of politicians to another; from one set of policies to another. It is a change from one political philosophy to another. From the idea that the role of the state is to direct society and micro-manage public services, to the idea that the role of the state is to strengthen society and make public services serve the people who use them. in a simple phrase, the change we offer is from Big Government to Big Society.
This manifesto is the most important stage so far on a journey that began four and a half years ago, when the Conservative Party itself voted for change by electing David Cameron as its leader.
Since then, the Party has remoulded itself for the modern era, applying its deepest values and beliefs to the urgent problems of the hour. Even as it has done so, the problems confronting Britain have escalated, and escalated fast. So our ideas are ambitious and radical as well as modern. They match the scale of britain’s problems, and are in tune with a world that is changing before our eyes.
But our core values have not altered and our core beliefs remain consistent.
We believe in responsibility: government responsibility with public finances, personal responsibility for our actions, and social responsibility towards each other. We believe in enterprise and aspiration. We believe there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.
Our fundamental tenet is that power should be devolved from politicians to people, from the central to the local. Personal ambition should be set as high as is humanly possible, with no barriers put in its way by the state. Perhaps most importantly, we believe that we are all in this together.
Everything you will find in this manifesto is built on these beliefs. They are the building blocks of the change we want to see in every home, every street, every community, every business.
Our belief in responsibility with public finances is the starting point of our plan for economic recovery and growth. We want your consent for a programme of public spending control that will deal with Labour’s debt crisis and stop the Labour jobs tax that would kill our economic recovery.
The programme set out in this manifesto is fully costed and fully funded. Some of our proposals – such as on school discipline – cost nothing, but require energy and leadership. others – like stopping Labour’s jobs tax – will require money, and we will make savings in other areas to pay for them. The debt crisis is the terrible legacy that Gordon Brown is bequeathing to our country.
But fiscal responsibility needs a social conscience or it is not responsible at all: so we will not allow the poorest people in Britain to pay an unfair price for the mistakes of some of the richest.
Nor will we allow irresponsibility in the private sector to continue unchecked. We will bring law and order to our financial markets as a necessary step to restoring confidence. But the real prize for Britain is to create a new economic model, one founded on investment and savings not borrowing and debt. This economic vision reflects our belief in enterprise and aspiration. It is a vision of a truly modern economy: one that is greener and more local. An economy where Britain leads in science, technology and innovation. But it is founded on a determination that wealth and opportunity must be more fairly distributed. We want to see an economy where not just our standard of living, but everyone’s quality of life, rises steadily and sustainably.
But a nation is only really successful if it is built on a strong society. We will never deal with our debts and build a new economy unless we solve the social problems that cost so much and hold so many people back. Labour’s big government approach is making our social problems worse, not better – inequality and poverty on the rise; social mobility stalled; family breakdown a fact of life for too many children. So we need fundamental change: from big government that presumes to know best, to the Big Society that trusts in the people for ideas and innovation.
We will move from state action to social action, encouraging social responsibility in all its forms and across all the country – whether curbing incivility on our streets or supporting social enterprises with the power to transform neighbourhoods. mending britain’s broken society will be a central aim of the next Conservative government.
That is why in this manifesto we set ourselves an ambitious goal: to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe. That is why we back the NHS. That is why we will reform schools to raise standards and restore discipline. It is why we will get people off benefits and into work; reform policing, sentencing and prisons. And why we are committed to a greener future.
But we will not succeed in building the Big Society, or in building a new economic model, unless we stop government trying to direct everything from the centre. We will get nowhere with yet more top-down state control. So, after thirteen years of Labour, we need radical political reform. We need to change the whole way this country is run. As Conservatives, we trust people.
We believe that if people are given more responsibility, they will behave more responsibly. We believe that if you decentralise power, you get better results and better value for money. So the plans set out in this manifesto represent an unprecedented redistribution of power and control from the central to the local, from politicians and the bureaucracy to individuals, families and neighbourhoods.
We will give people much more say over the things that affect their daily lives. We will make government, politics and public services much more open and transparent. and we will give the people who work in our public services much greater responsibility. but in return, they will have to answer to the people. All these measures will help restore trust in our broken political system.
We know that this is an ambitious vision. a profoundly optimistic vision. it is also an authentically Conservative vision: sound money, backing enterprise, trusting people. The journey we embarked on four and a half years ago was all about applying this Conservative approach to the progressive challenges of our age: making opportunity more equal; fighting poverty and inequality; improving the environment and general well-being. So our creed today is progressive Conservatism; and this is an unashamedly progressive Conservative manifesto.
Now we ask you to join us for the next and most important stage of the journey: changing Britain so we can offer a better life to all our citizens and play a proud and leading role in the world.
Each of the three programmes of reform outlined in this manifesto – our plans to build a new economic model; to build the big Society; to build a political system where people have more power and control over their lives – is a massive undertaking in its own right. Yet we are proposing to carry out these changes all at once, because that is the only way to put Britain on the right path for a successful future.
Britain faces huge problems that demand radical change; and it cannot come soon enough.
We are impatient to get on with this work. We are determined to make a difference. We have the policies to make that difference. and most importantly, we have faith in the people of Britain, because we know that if we all pull together, stick together, then this country can change its future.
Interestingly, the Foreword is just a list of vague promises and platitudinous statements. If any of you can distill any Conservative principles from this unholy mess, then please do let me know what you think they are.
A Statement of Principles, however laughable, would be along these lines:
"The Party supports the following principles:
1. We shall go on to the end.
2. We shall fight in France.
3. We shall fight on the seas and oceans.
4. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air.
5. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
6. We shall fight on the beaches.
7. We shall fight on the landing grounds.
8. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets.
9. We shall fight in the hills.
10. We shall never surrender."
The word "principle" is not even mentioned.
If you are a politician - particularly a Tory politician - and not sure what a principle is, or what they are for, or how to apply them, it is hoped that you will find http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/principles-in-nutshell.html helpful.
Puffery as a legal term refers to promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, which no "reasonable person" would take literally. Puffery serves to "puff up" an exaggerated image of what is being described and is especially featured in testimonials.
What I understand to be Conservative principles can be found at http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/conserving-long-term-national-interest.html
Below is what the Secretary of the Board of the Conservative Party said was the reason for my expulsion:
Tory Party to CK
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 3:34 PM
The Conservative Party received a complaint and subsequently launched an investigation. The investigation found subject matter personally attributed to you which were wholly inconsistent with the aims, objectives and principles of the Party.
Do you, like me, find it difficult to find anything I have said or done that has been inconsistent with what passes for the aims, objectives and principles of the Conservative Party as expressed above?
The reasons for my expulsion as enumerated at http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/my-appeal-against-cancellation-of-my.html (which also contains my appeal) do not refer at all to any of "principles" above or state how I have infringed against them.
Below is what I received today from the Chairman of the Board of the Conservative Party:
Decision of the Conservative Party Disciplinary Committee in the matter of the appeal by Ms Claire Khaw against her expulsion from the Conservative Party by the Board
The Committee met at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, 30 Millbank on Wednesday 27th March 2013 to consider an appeal by Ms Claire Khaw against the decision by the Board to expel her from membership of the Conservative Party.
Members of the Disciplinary Committee who heard the Appeal on the papers were:
Simon Mort (Chairman)
In attendance: Marcus Booth
The Committee DISMISSED the appeal.
Based on the evidence provided (including by Ms Khaw), the Committee concluded that Ms Khaw's publicly stated views and values, together with her conduct (that the Committee were in a position to appraise) are such that they are not compatible with membership of the Conservative Party, which is not an absolute right.
The aims, objectives and policies of the Conservative Party are freely available to read and Ms Khaw should have reasonably appraised herself of these before applying to join the Party.
Ms Khaw questioned the whereabouts of these principles. The Committee commend to anyone suffering from similar uncertainty to study the Foreword to the 2010 General Election Manifesto
http://www.conservatives.com/~/media/Files/Activist%20Centre/Press%20and%20Policy/Manifestos/Manifesto2010. Page vii seems particularly applicable in this specific context.
A reading of her wholly unconvincing evidence http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/my-appeal-against-cancellation-of-my.html therefore led the Committee to reach the view that her expulsion should be upheld and that the Board of the Conservative Party acted reasonably.