One of Labour’s spin successes in recent years has been to shape misconceptions of the Conservatives. The press and public have been fed the line that Conservatives are the ugly ducklings. It is time to reveal that, on the contrary, they can be the swans.
The ferocious spin has been relentless. Anyone who believes, as I do, that more decisions should be taken democratically here in the UK and fewer bureaucratically in Bruswsels, is branded as extreme – even though voices on the left and of no particular leaning think the same.
Anyone who believes as I do there ought to be better rewards for hard work and thrift, and think tax revenues would be bigger if we set lower rates of tax, is also branded right wing. We are deliberately said to favour cuts in schools and hospitals, despite our view that our approach would expand the revenues, and our constant reminder that we did not come into politics to sack teachers or nurses.
Anyone who questions the wisdom of some new set of regulations on the grounds that they might not work, is said to wish the harm the regulations purport to be against. I have been accused of single handedly causing the problems in banking owing to my belief in deregulation, despite writing a report saying they needed to regulate cash and capital more strongly and intelligently than they managed.
So it is for the Conservative party as a whole. Labour’s surveillance society, its poltically correct agenda, its belief that every problem can be solved by some combination of new regulation and public spending has been the zeitgeist for too long. Too many interviewers conduct interviews from the proposition that all public spending is good and more is better. They ask questions based on the assumption that laws and rules stop bad behaviour, and that if you question their efficiacy you condone it.
Labour tries to set the agenda to stop the Conservatives speaking well on tax, on Europe, on social policy and on immigration. It is time to throw off this constraint, and to change the terms of the debate.