The following piece was first published in the Newsletter a few days ago. It’s from the Tories’ Northern Ireland spokesman and is unremarkable other than for its obvious sign off pitch for Northern Ireland residents to get involved and join the British Conservative party. Over to the Campaign for Labour Representation in Northern Ireland group, who seem to be fighting an uphill struggle. The only Labour party organising in Northern Ireland at the moment seems to be Irish Labour.By David Liddington
Throughout the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, there is a real desire for new ideas and new leadership.
In 1997, people were willing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to succeed. They said they could deliver social justice and economic efficiency. These aims were right. And clearly, some good has been achieved: Bank of England independence, additional investment in the NHS and schools. But after nine years, people are disappointed.
We haven’t seen social justice in our country: whether in Belfast or Bradford, far too many people and families are still trapped in multiple deprivation.
Neither have we seen much sign of economic efficiency. Our country trails the Irish Republic for growth and competitiveness.
Labour have failed families struggling to find affordable childcare and good schools. And they’ve failed elderly people who want dignity and security in retirement.
There’s a fundamental reason for Labour’s failure. They think that spin can take the place of long-term thinking, and they believe that problems can be solved by new laws, regulations and targets. That approach isn’t working. Too often, more government just clogs up the works instead of solving long-term problems.
The challenge for Conservatives throughout the United Kingdom is to provide a serious alternative to Labour, so we can offer our country the change it needs.
That means three things. First, the Party itself has to change. We must be a modern, compassionate Conservative Party. We must be a voice for change, optimism and hope. Above all we must be an inclusive Party and that includes encouraging people from all backgrounds to play a full and active part in rebuilding the Conservative Party. People who before may not have considered joining the party are now doing so, in Northern Ireland as elsewhere.
Second, we have to develop new ideas to tackle the challenges facing the United Kingdom
Third, we have to show that the changes we would make are for the long term – that they’re built to last.
My Party’s aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone, through:
· a dynamic economy, where thriving businesses create jobs, wealth and opportunity;
· a strong society, where our families, our communities and our nation create secure foundations on which people can build their lives; and
· a sustainable environment, where we enhance the beauty of our surroundings and protect the future of our planet.
Our prosperity depends on the United Kingdom competing successfully with the best in the world. Conservatives will put economic stability and fiscal responsibility first, even ahead of tax cuts. Over time, we want to share the proceeds of growth between public services and lower taxes – instead of letting government spend an ever-increasing share of our national income.
The quality of life matters, as well as the quantity of money. We will seek a long-term cross-party consensus on sustainable development and climate change. We want to see government support the choices that families make about how to balance their work and home lives, not impose choices on them.
Well-run public services are an essential part of our national well-being. We need to improve education, not by destroying the most successful element of Northern Ireland’s schools system, but by driving up standards in those schools that are failing.
In education, health and policing, we should cut out the targets and bureaucracy that stifle initiative and destroy professional morale.
Security and freedom must go hand in hand. In fighting crime and terrorism, we will be hard-nosed defenders of freedom and security. We will ensure strong defence for our nation and the effective enforcement of laws that balance liberty and safety.
We’re working hard to rebuild people’s trust in the Conservative Party, and ensure that we are a credible, competent alternative Government when the next election comes. We still have a mountain to climb, but there is a sense of excitement and optimism among Conservative MPs and party members now that I have not seen for many years.
Moreover, our vision is as relevant for Northern Ireland as for anywhere else. We have a bright future and I hope people will grasp the opportunity to shape that future with us.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty