Tory MP Brian Binley’s letter to David Cameron
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER 11 December 2012
Dear Prime Minister,
Having been an office holder in the Conservative party for fifty-three years, I find it difficult to remember a time when the party’s leader in government failed consistently to chime with the natural instincts of our supporters.
There is a wide – and growing—gap on a number of issues. The media frenzy of the last week-end over gay marriage arising from your premature observations has resulted in the creation of organisational factions within the party squabbling in public over the issue. Countless activists are feeling driven to give up their much-needed support for the party, and, as any legislation progresses, this injury can only get worse.
Recent policy developments and the tone of their communication demonstrate a narrative quite absent of anything consistent with the core principles and philosophy of the party. We appear to be living from ‘headline’ to unplanned reaction, and the chaos is harming the party’s reputation with our voters. It is not just the standing of the leadership which is imperilled through this approach, but our entire political credibility.
Our position on Europe is not shared by the overwhelming number of our supporters; our approach to energy policy risks littering our countryside with ineffective and expensive wind farms whilst the lights go out and industry is driven to foreign climes; the City of London is facing an assault of overt marginalisation from the high priests of the eurozone; and our priorities on spending are creating a dangerous void in defence whilst scarce fiscal resources are lavished on countries with space programmes in the name of poverty alleviation. We are, it seems, powerless as a sovereign democracy, to prevent dangerous miscreants achieving incremental enhancements in the name of human rights, whilst our Exchequer can be plundered by foreign bureaucrats on grandiose visions of a continental political project in which we do not share. Fine universities could be sacrificed for the sake of targets and quotas, rather than raising the standards and aspirations of an entire generation of young people. Our coalition partners have proven effective in mis-representing the achievements of the Conservative party in government, and we appear unwilling – or unable – to take a stand to correct the record.
There is nothing new in the activities of our political opponents; but we should not be willing to allow this grotesque caricature to stand unchallenged: it may provide a platform for you to contrast yourself with the supporters who have dedicated themselves to securing your place in Downing Street, but it will do little to keep you there. The success of our party, with one of the most impressive electoral achievements in history, has been grounded in the aspirations of millions of ordinary Britons: and we must re-double our efforts to re-connect with these people – starting with an effective response to the issues that matter to them. Chasing headlines won’t work in the long-term, and inconsistency in policy weakens the message that we communicate to the electorate.
I am perturbed that our chances of winning the next election are compromised by the pursuit of issues which serve to divide the party, and detach the leadership from its support base in the country. We cannot expect to win without the help and dedication of many of those who have already walked away – and countless others who are considering doing the same. A common sense, convincing and credible response to the major challenges which we face as a nation is the best way to re-invigorate their interest, and will resonate with the wider public as well.
The very instincts and core of our party are based on recognising the knowledge of those who went before us, and Conservatives should progress on that foundation. It pains me that the present leadership seems intent on disagreeing with those basic tenets on an all-too-frequent basis, and we only have a short time to turn the situation around. I implore you to recognise that our current course is one which imperils our prospects for victory in 2015, and to take the steps that, as a leader, will put it right and create a platform for the majority Conservative government that this country so desperately needs.
Brian Binley, M.P.
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