The head of the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative Party has launched a stinging attack on a new group that calls for the Conservatives to increase the minimum wage and hike taxes on the rich, accusing those behind it of “political cowardice” and “appeasement”.
Donal Blaney, the Chairman of Conservative Way Forward, used his after dinner speech to the Freedom Association’s Freedom Festival in Bournemouth this weekend to call on fellow conservatives to stand up for lower taxes, smaller government and the basic tenets of Thatcherism.
The focus of his anger was the timing of the launch of a new project, The Good Right, by Tim Montgomerie. Montgomerie, the founder of Conservative Home and now a contributor to The Times, is publicly launching The Good Right on Wednesday in the presence of the Chief Whip, Michael Gove, in Westminster.
The Good Right, a self-styled compassionate conservative, big government outfit, calls for greater housebuilding by the state, taxpayer-funded infrastructure expansion in the North of England, higher taxes on expensive properties and above-inflation increases in the minimum wage.
Blaney objected to Montgomerie’s decision to launch the Good Right barely two months out from May’s general election, which he felt was a provocative and divisive move at a time when all Conservatives ought instead to be focused on securing David Cameron’s victory at the polls.
“We are closer than we have ever been to getting a vote on our membership of the European Union”, he said. “The timing of the launch of this new group, when the rest of us on the Right are focused on working hard to win in May, is outrageous”.
In his cutting remarks, Blaney said: “Like Lady Thatcher, I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air. By calling for a greater and greater role for the state, and deriding those of us who dare to disagree with him as being evil – for that is the opposite of good – Tim is doing the work of our enemies and is acting as a latter day Michael Heseltine”.
He continued: “There’s a word for this kind of politics of envy and that word is socialism. For as Lady Thatcher said, “If a Tory does not believe that private property is one of the main bulwarks of individual freedom, then he had better become a socialist and have done with it”.
Blaney’s prescription was for the Conservative Party to appeal to the millions of voters who are flirting with UKIP in May by offering them a policy prescription based around nine core values spelled out by Lady Thatcher during her time as President of Conservative Way Forward: democracy, capitalism, deregulation, freedom, community, enterprise, nationhood, security and choice.
He said: “I have little doubt that these principles – adapted for today and communicated in the same, clear and optimistic language that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher used – remain the common ground of British politics”.
Blaney observed: “I did not enter politics to do the bidding of my political opponents, to slow the ratchet and to manage the decline of our nation. Just because others have lost courage, and see fit – two months out from an election – to attack the rest of us for being “evil” does not mean that we should sit back or take these insults lying down. If there is a fight for the soul of the Tory Party then I’m ready to go toe to toe with those who want it to become a Christian Democrat, centrist party in the European tradition”.
Quoting Ronald Reagan, Blaney concluded: “Ronald Reagan once said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same. It is time for all of us who love freedom to stand up and be counted, to fight for our victory in May and to consign appeasement to the ash heap of history”.