“I want to note that many great things are already being done by Conservatives in government today and throughout our history…
Some on the Left would have you believe that they’re the ONLY ones who are all heart. It’s not true today and never has been. Look at this party’s history. It’s great history…
We’re the party of Wilberforce, of course. The leader of the campaign against the slave trade. The Duke of Wellington who introduced Catholic Emancipation. Robert Peel, the father of that essential underpinning of security – modern policing. Of Shaftesbury and the factory laws and legislation against child labour.
Of Disraeli who cleared slums and extended the franchise. Neville Chamberlain – he didn’t get everything right – but he led Britain out of the Great Depression with a housebuilding programme. Churchill who defeated the greatest of all enemies to world peace. Rab Butler and his landmark education act of 1944.
Macmillan’s creation of a property-owning democracy. Margaret Thatcher’s democratisation of the union movement. John Major, who reversed the post-war increase in crime.
And this government has its own proud record…
In no particular order of importance –
There’s William Hague’s campaign to ensure rape is recognised as a war crime.
Alistair Burt – last year’s Wilberforce lecturer – and his successful effort to deliver an international, legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations.
Theresa May’s work – with the Centre for Social Justice – against modern slavery – a campaign that Wilberforce would have joined with as much dedication as he would be concerned that it was necessary.
Justine Greening, building on Andrew Mitchell’s work, has ensured Britain is a world leader in soft power – resilience towards climate change, vaccinations, new agricultural technologies and emergency relief – all are part of our global aid effort. It would have been so easy to use the excuse of austerity to cut aid – many other governments and nations have – but this is a time when need in other parts of the world is greatest. I regard it as a great thing that this party, our Conservative Party has not balanced the budget on the backs of the world’s poorest people.
It is not as though the domestic policy front has been neglected because of the international focus.
Michael Gove isn’t just improving our schools but accelerating adoption too. Record number of the country’s most vulnerable children are leaving care and being placed in homes where they have a chance to be loved and flourish.
Iain Duncan Smith is reforming the benefits system so that work always pays.
George Osborne is lifting millions of low-paid Britons out of the income tax system.
At long last, marriage is going to be recognised again in the tax system.
Chris Grayling is undertaking a rehabilitation agenda in our prisons.
And do you know what the greatest moral project of this government is?
Reducing the deficit. This is often expressed as some sort of economic project. The work of accountants. Trimming here. Cutting here. All to keep the ratings agencies, international investors and the IMF happy. It may be all of those things but that’s not the most important purpose.
Reducing the deficit is about ensuring Britain has a future. That the welfare state has a future. That a basic safety net has a future.