One of the prime examples of lazy journalism prevalent at present is the assumption that the 109 new Conservative MPs elected in December are all of a piece. Ideologically, it is assumed by too many commentators that because they were pro-Brexit they must represent a shift to the right on all matters for the Parliamentary party.
This is rubbish, and demonstrably so. As Chair of the One Nation Caucus which was set up last year to promote mainstream moderate values in the Party, I am delighted with the number and quality of my new colleagues who have joined the Caucus. We now have well over 100 members, and already the contribution of those who have only been MPs for a couple of months is obvious. This is true not only in the quality of their maiden speeches but in the contributions they are making to the development of policy.
We are delighted that Boris insists in every speech that he is a One Nation Conservative and one of the key tasks of the Caucus will be to bring up to date what a One Nation Government means in practice in the 2020s. It has always been a slightly vague notion since Disraeli sort of invented it (he only ever wrote of the divide between Two Nations—the rich and the poor).
We certainly energetically support the Government’s desire to improve the lives of those living in towns that have gradually slid away from their previous prosperity in the past 40 years. Many of the them, of course, have Conservative MPs for the first time so doing right by these communities is also politically necessary.
But leveling up must go further than this. We will be doing wider work on the eradication of poverty. We want to develop new arguments to explain the merits of the union of our four countries. We will investigate how the ambitious infrastructure projects currently planned can be delivered quickly and cost-effectively.
Damian Green, Conservative MP for Ashford