This morning over breakfast we were listening to Radio 4 and my youngest daughter, Laura (7), asked ‘Why?’ when she heard something said. I asked her what she meant and she replied that she wanted to know why what had been said was, as the interviewer claimed, ‘important’. Her question got me thinking.
Too often those of us involved in politics sound like rather crusty, dusty statisticians. We rejoice that X has risen by Y%; we are proud that we are spending £xxmillion more on something than the other lot did or would; we are thrilled when a target, outcome or standard increases by A or B or that something has been reduced by some % or another. For most of us the size of the numbers and the comparisons made often make little sense. As Disraeli wisely said: there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
In this post I want to concentrate on the why of politics. Why do we do things and why do we think they’re important. I won’t be able to cover everything but let me give you a few examples. My politics, my brand of Conservatism, is based on a set of principles and values often referred to in Westminster shorthand as One Nation Conservatism. To me that translates as:
I happen to believe that the State should provide a safety net below which no one is allowed to fall and a trampoline from which people can aim higher. There is clearly a role for the State in our society. I believe quality, efficient public services are a hallmark of a civilised society.
The Rule of Law, independent Judiciary and a free press are fundamental pillars of our democratic freedoms. I believe that we should be an outward looking, open and generous country because our values and beliefs are looked to all over the world.
I know we need robust defences not just to keep us physically safe at home but to allow us to defend our shared principles and values of human dignity and freedom overseas too. It is for this reason that I know our efforts to help developing countries through our overseas development spend is so important.
I believe that a confident business community is important. Why? Because it provides work for individuals which allows them to support their families and play a part in their communities. Moreover, I believe it is important as it generates tax (sales, personal and corporate) to fund all of the public services we use and need.
I believe that it is important to drive up standards in education not for some ideological reason but simply because a first class education produces well rounded youngsters who are hungry to learn and ready to take their place in society. Education provides the key that unlocks all doors.
I believe the provision of housing is important not because I’m a builder but I think it important that people have an asset they can cherish and pass on to the next generation to continue the journey of social mobility and progress.
As a Conservative I believe we should conserve and preserve our environment. That is why we all focus on the Climate Emergency to make our lives less impactful/more sustainable.
So the above is not an exhaustive list but I hope gives a little flavour of the whys of my Conservatism.