Graham Brady: "Conservatives Should Be Bolder In Spreading Ownership And Freedom"

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Politicians must be bolder in helping people to achieve the independence, security and freedom that comes from owning their own material stake in the world, according to Chairman of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady MP, giving the annual Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture this evening.

Brady believes the Conservative Party “succeeds when it is most effective in spreading dignity to British people from all social classes and backgrounds” and for this they need:

Their own home: not forced to queue for a place to live. Their own funded pension: not subject to the vagaries of when government thinks they should be allowed to retire. Their own funds: to allow them to assist the next generation in making a better life.”

He also sets out ideas for rebuilding trust in democracy, calling for a more independent House of Commons.

Brady outlines five key areas:

  • Making Parliament work better and the tyranny of being ‘on message’:

“There remains a rich seem of reforms short of a full separation of powers that would restore confidence and independence to the House of Commons. Control of our own agenda and timetable; more powers for select committees and more free votes might be the next stage of reform.”

At the core of the problem lies the readiness of too many in politics to treat the public as fools. The shine eventually wore off Tony Blair when people came to the view that he had manipulated the evidence to justify a war. Gordon Brown’s brief honeymoon as Prime Minister ended when he dissimulated over the election that never was. Nick Clegg’s poll rating has never recovered from a broken pledge over tuition fees… what was perceived as the breach of a copper-bottomed guarantee to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty certainly contributed to the failure of my party to win the election outright in 2010. That is why David Cameron’s absolute commitment to legislate for a referendum on the EU is so important.

  • Encouraging wealth transfers from generations

“The pledge to increase the Inheritance Tax Threshold to a million pounds was sufficient to deter Gordon Brown from holding that honeymoon election. As David Cameron has indicated, a Conservative government should return to this theme. Perhaps it should also look at how those leaving legacies might be encouraged to spread benefits more widely amongst younger generations. Reliefs for people providing deposits for children or grandchildren buying homes; relief if funds are paid straight into a relative’s pension fund”

  • Restoring a property-owning democracy:

“Home ownership not only generates personal wealth and means people have somewhere to live; it also gives a psychological sense of worth from owning a sizable asset as well as the comfort of knowing we have something to pass on to future generations.”

  • Encouraging wider share ownership:

“I am pleased that this Government has recently taken steps to re-energise the concept of a shareholder democracy with the privatisation of Royal Mail being a good example. At Royal Mail today more than 99% of employees are now shareholders in the company they work for by virtue of the free shares awarded when privatised.”

  • Capitalising on the Chancellor’s savings revolution:

“George Osborne has achieved two important goals in one stroke. Firstly he has done something believable: something that the nation sees as true to our principles. This is key to building the ‘brand identity’ that will be in the minds of the voters at next year’s general election. Secondly, the boldness of the move should help to set the scene for the great challenges that lie ahead.”

Brady believes in these areas the Conservative Party must go further:

We should be bolder. We should accept that it is not for government to make these choices; they are better made by people making their own decisions about what is in their own interests. Where possible we should seek to assist people in providing for themselves without the intervention of the government at all.”

Date Added: Wednesday 2nd April 2014