Robert Halfon to call for a ladder of opportunity

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, will call on the Conservative Party to create ‘a ladder of opportunity’ for low-income voters in a speech to the 1900 Club & Centre for Policy Studies on Monday evening, 9 October 2017.

He will set out plans to strengthen the Conservative Party’s historic links with the trade union movement and become ‘a true worker’s party’ by offering all workers a ladder to ‘get you the skills, to get the education, jobs, security, and prosperity that you need’, with ‘a social ambulance always there at the bottom, ready if people fall off’.

He will suggest the government should ‘develop a modern Conservative Good Work Act to resolve issues of exploitation, of workers representation, of fair pay to guarantee fair competition, minimum standards and rights for the self-employed’.

He will suggest that by allowing Labour to claim ‘the positive language of compassion’, the Conservative Party has left the public with no real understanding of what Conservatism is: ‘We have no message or narrative. No one really understands what Conservatism is all about, except in terms of austerity, economics and Brexit.’

The party has also, he will say, offered ‘one technocratic “solution” after another, devoid of human understanding or without any emotional connection; a series of clothes pegs without any washing line.

Halfon will be clear that he supports Theresa May’s leadership, and that his comments are intended to address the party’s wider agenda.

He will list some of the recent accomplishments of the Conservative government and highlight how a lack of compassionate language held people back from fully understanding the policies: ‘Take the example of Universal Credit, a potentially good reform. This is rolled out with little explanation or narrative behind it and implemented in such a way that this reform is seen as a “cut” because ‘the computer says no’’ to people who are just digits on a machine, ignoring the hardship through the six-week period it takes to receive the first payment.’

His speech ends with a reminder that Labour’s 650,000 members are ‘not all Trotskyites but well-meaning individuals inspired by the romantic and noble socialist ideals of helping the underdog’, and a challenge to his party:

‘It is time for us Conservatives to develop a romantic and ethical message of our own, recognising that we need radical change if we are to inspire millions of people to vote Tory: not just with their heads because of the economy, but with their hearts too. Unless we do so, I believe that we will never get the strong majority that our country needs.’


  1. Robert Halfon has served as MP for Harlow since 2010. He was elected Chair of the Education Select Committee following the 2017 election and has previously served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
  2. The 1900 Club is a Conservative political dining club founded in 1906. Robert Halfon MP was speaking at its annual lecture, held jointly with the Centre for Policy Studies.
  3. The Centre for Policy Studies was founded in 1974 by Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph and develops and promotes policies to encourage enterprise, and to enable the institutions of a free society to flourish.

Date Added: Monday 9th October 2017