We need to keep the door open to those we have removed from the party. Elections are won on compromise and unity. If ever there was a time to try to ditch the divisiveness and reach out, it’s now.
It has been nearly six weeks since twenty-one Conservative MPs had the whip removed, effectively barring them from standing for the party at the next election. It was widely expected but still came as a bit of a shock.
It came as more of a shock to Rory Stewart, who was accepting an award from GQ when the text came through, somewhat ironically naming him as ‘Politician of the Year’ as he was being expelled from his party. Surely I can’t be the only one who was amused by that!
The Conservative party has traditionally been the broad-church party, with a wide range of opinions on a wide range of issues. One thing that unites us though, is the broad umbrella of Conservatism.
Historically we have been a beacon of unity in the form of division, from the times of the wets and the drys to more modern definitions of Thatcherite, Cameronite and One Nation Tories.
David Cameron won an election by winning the centre ground, on the back of the biggest compromise a government party can make – a coalition.
We can dispute what we mean by our own definitions of Conservatism. But these people were elected on a Conservative manifesto.
They were quite rightly expelled from the party for voting to take power away from their own government.
But we must consider this; more than anything, an olive branch gesture to those we have expelled could well bring us back into line and help to debar the unhealthy image of intolerance that the left is trying to perpetuate and extol onto us.
Of course, those who return would have to be willing to stand on, and execute, the party’s manifesto.
Given the quite frankly remarkable precedents set over the past few weeks and months, with our executive effectively being rendered parliament’s puppet on certain issues (ladies and gentleman, I give you, the Benn Act) nothing can be taken for granted. Even in a government with a three figure majority, you will always have rebels.
With a decent majority in government, however, they can easily be cancelled out.
We should look forward to an election and re-open our arms to those who we have expelled who still stand as independents.
We will not only welcome back MPs to the tune of double figures – we will exile the myth of our intolerance and show that united, we are a force to be reckoned with.
Jack Rydeheard is the editor of the Conservative on Sunday for Conservative Progress.