From Out of Date to Up to Date: Why The Conservative Party Needs to Modernise
As a nation the United Kingdom is widely seen to be a much more progressive body in regards to social issues and the extent in which we allow religion to partake in our way of life and the subsequent decision making that comes with governance. We only need to look at our closest cultural neighbour –the United States of America to see that whilst we share similarities, when it comes to issues such as homosexual rights and the privileged position Christianity seems to play in their government in determining their policy that we are in fact many years ahead of them. However as we continue to progress forward The Conservative Party – a party which prides itself strongly on traditional British norms and values – run of the risk of falling out of touch with the needs of contemporary British society.
In May 1997 Tony Blair ended a 17 year long Conservative reign in power which resulted in then party leader John Mayor stepping down. Succeeding these turn of events the Tories elected new leaders, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard (in that order) who would one by one suffer electoral defeat. The reason being is that despite these leaders being fairly sound in their political workings, they were so out of touch the public simply could not relate to them, no matter how many clever campaign tactics like sending William Hague to a theme park or to a local pub they tried.
This is not to say that no progress has been made however, Prime Minister David Cameron recognised this problem and has sought to bring his party to a more relatable public state and it appears to have paid off as despite the shambles that was the government under Gordon Brown, Cameron would not have been as successful as he was had the Tories maintained their traditional persona. The fact remains however: they did not secure a parliamentary majority which stems down to the fact that no matter how tentative his efforts are, David Cameron still fulfils the schemata of what a Tory should be and what the public is not – Eton educated Oxford graduate.
Having suffered yet another year of disastrous local election results it is essential Cameron and his Conservative counterparts take a serious look at where the party is failing, which I believe to be this ideal of a true Conservative, one whom wines-and-dines with his economic equals. Instead the next stage for them should be to reassess a number of their priorities and policy directives to both better comply with the average British voter and finally are seen as a political party who represents the whole of the United Kingdom, and not just those from a privileged background or high ranking businessmen and women. Furthermore their recent antics involving Rupert Murdoch need to be stopped in full or they risk becoming even more distrusted as statistics from research group Northern Lights show 64% of the population believe the Tories only stand for the rich and another 35% would never consider voting for them.
A good start to this process would be to review currently policy to accommodate small factions of society. Already a bill for Same-sex marriage has been announced which we can hope to see passed before 2015, but what else do we need? A separation of church and state would be a key asset in ensuring that religious groups are not favoured nor discriminated against, legislation that not only ensures equal women’s pay but also offers them full protection of the law against domestic violence regardless of age and larger investment in local communities and small businesses. Although these are mere suggestions (which commentators on the left side of the political spectrum may beg to differ on) they are well within the parameters of what are feasible accomplishments in the next three years.
In the current climate with the Liberal’s reputation tarnished and the Tories being seen as out of touch, the Labour Party have effectively been given a head-start so-to-speak. If Cameron wishes to have any chance of electoral success in 2015 then he needs to ignore the backbench rumblings of traditional Conservatives who wish to abandon the progressive policies and get his party’s priorities straight immediately because I guarantee you that if he loses this next General Election, it will be his last as party leader with George Osborne and other ambitious MPs hungrily waiting in the backlight. Don’t get me wrong we have seen a much more modern Conservative Party than what we were shown during the Thatcher and Major years, but if they want to continue as a legitimate political force then these changes must be implemented.
Sceptic as some of the older members of his [Cameron’s] party may be, they need to fall in line with the Prime Minister. So much is at stake right now, maintaining a modern political party is not just a battle for a more progressive Britain, but also as a means of spreading political modernisation across the world as the United States’ position may be jeopardised given Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s growing popularity (who if elected has threatened to retract a woman’s right to abortion and remove contraception from the market) it really is down to us to set an example for global politics to follow suit. I urge any believer of the Conservative ideology to get behind the party on this and begin to make a difference, adapting to the social climate is a natural process of mankind and political parties must too learn to adapt.