Wednesday , June 19 2024

Flagship Policies

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to an interview of Jacob Rees-Mogg by James Delingpole on YouTube. Mogg asked Delingpole who he felt the UK’s best Prime Ministers had been when Delingpole slighted career politicians. Upon responding with the standard Thatcher and Churchill, Mogg replied by asking ‘What about Pitt the Younger?”

This has made me think and ponder why Pitt is never slighted off as a mere ‘career politician’, and while reading Sam Hooper’s recent article on the lack of impressive speeches in modern British politicians, I had a “eureka” moment. I believe we do not dislike and distrust career politicians for that, but rather because they do not have a plan or a goal. I think people like Blair and Cameron are disliked and slated because they do not have a goal or a destination. The position of Prime Minister has become, in Sam Hooper’s word “Comptroller of Public Services”. There are no Flagship Policies or goals, or dreams. It seems that some people want the position for the merely for the power. I remember reading an article soon after May became PM. It said she had the most power and ability to leave a legacy of any Prime Minister in the 21st Century to date and probably for the next 50 years. I remember thinking of all the countless policies and good that could be achieved. One that would have the mass backing of the people and would use Brexit as a springboard to achieve a new, modern, Global Britain.

If I was to ask people on the street what first came to mind when they think of William Pitt, I would suspect most people – those who had heard of him – would not think of him as a mere Career Politician. I suspect many would not know him as Britain’s youngest Prime Minister. I am sure he would be known as the man who made Britain great. If I may add a touch of brevity, it was the first time Britain was made great.

It may be of interest to many Conservatives to hear the advice of the man who saved Toryism during his premiership, although that is the least of his accolades.

Pitt had policies. He had dreams and ideas. When he proposed Parliamentary Reform, it was not mere words – although the act was defeated in Parliament, he tabled an act to abolish the rotten boroughs. Although he made many mistakes, he was able to make his mark on the nation, which quite often was its economic survival. A sound financier, he, like David Cameron, knew and emphasised that with a strong economy, many things were possible. Unlike Mr Cameron, he made many of those things come to fruition. Due to his intensive work on behalf of the nation, Britain was able to learn from its mistakes in the American Revolutionary War and so save the rest of the Empire, lay the groundwork of the Commonwealth, turn Britain into Europe’s leading economic power and create a remarkably efficient economic juggernaut that would wear Revolutionary and Napoleonic France down to its final defeats.

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron had, between them, nearly the same time in No. 10 than Pitt. He had 20, they had 19. It is hard to think of any of the trio having made a fraction of the achievements he did for the nation. However, it must be said that Tony Blair liberated Kuwait – and Iraq, Mr Brown abolished the Boom & Bust Cycle and The Right Honourable David Cameron brought us out of the EU against his will.

I am not saying that any of these three men are by any means bad men, or even unfit to be Prime Ministers. I merely state that the nation needs direct ideological leadership. Hooper continues with his article “provide[ing] a “fair and balanced” platform for two partisan idiots to yell at each other for an equal amount of time.” 

We can query whether Prime Minister’s Questions really is a time where ‘two partisan idiots yell (and insult) each other for an equal amount of time’. I for one do not wish to insult any MP by calling them ‘idiots’ as I am sure they are all trying to do what they perceive as best for the nation. However, we cannot query the fact that a lot of the time, political “debates” have become school ground insult matches, sometimes going so far as to argue about what their mothers would have to say.

These are not arguments about policies. The issue is not “My idea for Britain is better than his”, but rather “I can supervise the nation better than that gibbering idiot can”. Sometimes the words “economically illiterate” or “heartless” are inserted to replace “gibbering”, but the inferred sentence remains the same.

I firmly believe the nation likes, and indeed wants its leaders to be driven by policies. Jeremy Corbyn has an ideal. He has a goal. It may be one that leads many Britons to shudder; it may be one that leads to the quoting of Mao’s Little Red Book at the Dispatch Boxes, but nobody can accuse Mr Corbyn of not believing in something and standing up for it.

If the Conservatives wish to win back the younger generations, then surely the best way would be to listen to their concerns and offer them a workable future? If Theresa May or the Conservative Party wishes to win back the young vote, how about coming to an election with policies. Strong and Stable Leadership is all well and good until one wants to see more than merely a continuation of existing issues? That isn’t Conservatism, but rather ‘Reactionism’ – a rather Marxist sounding term which I am surprised Corbyn hasn’t used yet. Surely we can think of better ideas than a Dementia Tax? Yet even Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ was a small idea.

How about these policies:

  1. Reduce the price of housing – buying and leasing – by creating new small towns. We can relax building regulations to allow the free market to respond to demand. This will also mean moving jobs to the less populated North and areas outside the ‘Home Counties’. We could see a real ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
  2. Return to a ‘Cambourneite’ focus on the Economy. A laissez-faire economy to drive the nation. We do not need to be afraid of a limited ‘Bargain Basement Brexit’ option because people have a choice. While it can be argued that we may not want unilateral free trade, such arguments fall flat when discussing cutting business tax. Brexit is a golden opportunity to shift banks to, not from, The City.
  3. Actually have a long, clear think about what a Brexit Britain can be. Britain has three main global alliances it can be a part of: Europe’s, the USA’s and the Commonwealth’s. We do not need to leave one, but can be part of all three. The question is: in which order do we want to place them?
  4. CANZUK Alliance, including Free Movement. As Andrew Lilico pointed out in CANZUK International’s, it has majority support in all of Britain’s demographical categories. The statistics are remarkable – it is truly hard to think of a demographic group that would be opposed to it.

For those concerned about the rise of Momentum, the Conservative Party needs to be a party of policies, proposals and ideas to win back the fight. The unthinkable has occurred; Corbyn is more popular than May, and if that is to be reversed it must be done with vigour: Masterful Inactivity is not a realistic proposal. For those who wish to see Politics return to the noble art of helping the less well off, the Conservative Party needs to be a party of policies, proposals and ideas  – Labour cannot by itself help those less well off. For those concerned about the state of our democracy the Conservative Party needs to be a party of policies, proposals and ideas; it is not good to have one party driven by ideology and another merely reactionary as it will eventually lead to a one party state.

Too often, on all sides, the ideological ‘Flagship Policies’ to better the nation have resembled the Mary Rose – very impressive on paper, but then collapse and sink quickly when faced with the real world and minor public opposition. The Labour Party has discovered some Wooden Walls under Comrade Corbyn. The Liberal Democrats have discovered a corner to fight. It happens to be the European corner, but at least one cannot say anymore that one doesn’t know what the Lib Dems stand for. UKIP’s Flagship has become somewhat like HMS Victory – following a titanic struggle, it was victorious, lost its leadership and now its crew seek to creep back to port and place it in a museum. The SNP has always stood for one thing: Scottish Independence; their colours are also clearly nailed to the mast.

Will the Conservatives under May and whoever replaces her continue with the policy of Presiding, or will they dream big? Will we see a Navy of Conservative & Liberal values and policies come sailing out of CCHQ? I truly hope so; for all their numerous faults, conservatism can truly propel Britain to astonishing heights in the 21st Century. It requires a dream, and a dream requires a dreamer. Churchill once said that he “was not the lion, but it fell to him to give the Lion’s roar”. Pitt said, “England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.”. Post Brexit Britain requires exertions to lead by example, but we cannot exert until we have a goal we are working towards.

About Ted Yarbrough

Ted is the co-founder and editor of the Daily Globe. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism.

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  1. Ted Yarbrough

    Excellent article Isaac- really enjoyed it and agree with all the four flagship policies you raise.

    As the point of MPs not being better statesmen and stateswomen I would recommend reading this piece by Clare Foges in the Time yesterday. Gets the heart of why there are so many mediocre MPs and “gloried comptrollers”.

  2. John Hartigan

    Pitt sadly abandoned his reforming instincts – a parallel that Cameron may recognise. As “the pilot that weather’d the storm”, he persevered to defeat Napoleon to his dying days. I think Major liberated Kuwait, Blair Kosovo.