Dr Spencer Pitfield: Now is the time to be radical and challenge stereotypes

The on-going Labour leadership saga, with all its many tribulations, could quite easily lull Conservatives into a false sense of security. 


I often think what a funny business politics is - such a topsy turvy roller-coaster. As we all know 'a week is a lifetime in politics' but with the current Labour contest we seem to have a week's worth of intrigue every single day.

Much discussion among colleagues seems to centre on whether our Party should hold steady as she goes or grasp the nettle and press the fast forward button. I can see both sides of the argument of course - why not sit back and move steadily ahead whilst watching Her Majesty's Opposition implode before our very eyes. Indeed at this rate a Labour split along the lines of the Gang of Four breakaway to form the SDP in 1981 is very much on the cards.

But now is the time to refocus our attention away from the Labour debacle. The time for Conservatives to be radical and seize this incredible moment in our political history. A time to be bold in everything we do.

Lord Feldman's Party Review has started this radical journey. I have no doubt that the review will bring forward dramatic changes to the way the Party is constituted and run. Our Chairman, Deputy Chairman and the Party Board should be very much commended for this first salvo of our new and radical agenda.

Party policy also needs to be front and centre of this radical new agenda. This too is already occurring. Only yesterday the Chancellor was in Yorkshire visiting our excellent Air Ambulance service and bringing with him £1 million of bank fine monies to put towards a new helicopter to ensure the organisation can keep saving lives. A Conservative Chancellor making sure fine monies from banks are given directly to a deserving charity.

Since my return to the UK from working overseas in 1997 I have often wondered why it is people stereotype Conservatives as the party of privatisation - just like I suppose people stereotype Labour as the party of nationalisation. Much of this stereotyping is historical in its concept - but so very outdated of course in the reality of modern Conservative politics today.

So we need to set ourselves apart from these stereotypes - we need perhaps to worry less about what needs to be privatised or nationalised - and think about what is best in any individual situation. So what about Government considering part or fully funding all life saving charities like our national Air Ambulance and RNLI network? These charities struggle from month to month to exist - why not place them front and centre of a new approach to offer steady funding and support in order that they might continue their wonderful work. They would stay charities of course - just a different type of charity - a part state, part community charitable co-operative supported for the good of all.

So let’s be radical and let’s not be stereotyped in the future

Dr Spencer Pitfield was Chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum and is on the Board of CWF.

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