7 June 2019 | OPINION
I, like many other Conservatives, long for the days in which the Conservative Party had a set of values, an ideological mission. We were the party that once wished to revolutionise, to reshape the landscape of Britain. Whether that was Disraeli in his social vision of the ‘One Nation’ unified in reform and patriotism, or Thatcher in her reversal of Britain’s managed decline, the Conservative Party throughout its history as the most electorally successful political party, has always had concrete values: that of freedom, prosperity and patriotism – and we, the modern-day party, require an urgent history lesson of how not only to win elections, but how to efficiently nurture these values, before it is too late.
Just as the party chose to revitalise these values with the election of Margaret Thatcher as leader in 1975, we today as Conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. We can choose to continue our pandering to ‘Blair-lite’ social democracy, or find ourselves renewed with a dose of traditional conservatism by electing Sir Graham Brady as the Conservative Party leader. At a time when we are faced with growing socialist values, we must fight to combat them with the ideals of conservatism. Fire must fight fire, and we as Conservatives should be sound in the knowledge that our values have a track record in winning the fight, and therefore we can rest assured that, one day, we can return this country to stability.
One such Conservative who is not shy of old-school conservatism is, after all Sir Graham. The outgoing Chairman of the 1922 Committee can be seen to unify the Parliamentary party, rallying the activists and members at various events. Yet, his ace of spades is inevitably his commitment to see through and champion the traditional values of conservatism.
If we elect a careerist parliamentarian, one so out of tune with the needs of Britain, out of tune with the values of conservatism that inspire fellow party members to knock on doors and deliver leaflets through the temperament of our fine British weather and political turmoil, we will cease to be a political force, resigned to opposition for a generation. But, if we have the courage and the conviction to elect a true conservative, someone with convictions that we hold to be good – a man who sacrificed his ministerial career on the basis of the educational values he holds dear – then we can be re-energised.
Graham has values. A longstanding eurosceptic, committed to our departure from the European Union, an advocate against the ‘backstop’. A committed and resilient figure within the debate to retain the choice of selective education, which allows talented individuals from lower-income households to compete against the privileged few. Brady himself is the epitome of a meritocracy – he is the ‘boy who done good’, attending a Grammar School, attending university – becoming the youngest Conservative Member of Parliament at the point of his election in 1997.
We need a vision of hope and of tradition, and we require his skills of unification, negotiation and litigation to unite the Conservative Party behind a vision and pursuit not only of Brexit but of a continued period of Conservative governance. Will it be easy? No. But the first steps, the baby steps, are finding the courage within ourselves as members, Parliamentarians and the wider Conservative Party to stand up and be counted. To own our values, and to champion them. To sell our message that, throughout history, has been refined but not changed. We need a traditional Tory, a traditional campaign and a solid, proven message. Graham has that message – he has continually championed it – and as such deserves our support to become the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.
We cannot merely rely on empty statements, slogans or gestures. We need steadfast commitment. Commitment to Tory Democracy, Law and Order, Freedom and Patriotism. For without that, we may as well merge into the creeping, yellow shade of the Liberal Democrats.