The Conservative Party is not the party of your parents. Look again, closely. It may well be undergoing the shift that Labour went through that kept Labour in power for 13 years. If you’re confused, don’t be: you’re just a New Conservative.
|Old Conservative (Perception, at least)||New Conservative||Strategy of New Conservatives|
|Lower taxes on the richest||Increases taxes on the richest through targeting anti-avoidance by individuals and multinationals||The richest are few in number, probably don’t vote in the UK (companies like Starbucks definitely don’t) and it’s the right thing to do|
|Raise taxes on the lowest income, because they don’t vote for you||Raise the tax allowance on the lowest income||Have them aspire, and work and their spending will have GDP benefits which reduces need for public spending|
|Cut the public sector to avoid crowding out of the private sector as a matter of ideology||Austerity to cut debt to stop wasteful public spending on debt interest||Avoid waste|
|Restrict immigration because they take our jobs||Quality immigrants very welcome who add to GDP||Grow the economy so more tax take|
|Encourage home ownership and share ownership||Same||Property ownership makes people less reliant on the State|
|Help big business||Help small business, watch and fine errant big business||Jobs are created by small businesses. Big businesses can derail economic growth and job creation and mean more people become reliant on the State|
|Tradition family roles||We need more women in business, politics, public life||Women are a huge potential source of economic growth, tax revenues and less reliance on the State and public spending|
|Society ‘does not exist’||Volunteerism||Less reliance on the State and public spending|
|Strong state, in defence and in crime – ideology driven||Hard data shows a stick is not always as effective as a carrot – influenced by Centre for Social Justice||Public spending is often wasted if we do not use data to change how we do things, from public diplomacy and international aid, to prisons and crime policy, and get better results than in the old way of doing things.|
|Environment comes second to growth. Our voters are in green belts.||Environment matters because we are patriotic about this green and pleasant land||Everyone is more green now. Our voters are still in green belts. Our economy can grow regardless. It’s the right thing to do.|
|NHS is full of waste||The NHS needs more spending as a cherished institution||An aging population votes Conservative and needs healthcare provision.|
So how is it different? How are they different to Labour?
- New Conservatives, like old Conservatives, fundamentally want a smaller role for the State. They remain in favour of trusting individuals with personal choices, and more people aspiring to create jobs and wealth, so there is less reliance on the State. It is unfair for Conservatives that those who work and pay tax should have it taken from them by the State.
- Labour believes more in reliance on the State. It may be couched in the language of fairness, too; for them, it is unfair that those who can work and pay tax do not for those who need it, and it is the role of the State to be the conduit.
What about the old ideologies?
What happened to worker rights, power of unions, lower tax, more public spending, the family unit, defence spending? None of these are cleavages in this election. The new issues are:
- Is Britain sending the signal it is open for business?
- Will lower tax bring in more or less money?
- How much borrowing is bad? Should we fix the deficit whilst the going is good or use it to make the going better quicker?
Alpesh Patel is CEO of a UK Asset Management Company investing in Global businesses. He is a Board Member of the UK India Business Council and a former Financial Times columnist and Bloomberg TV presenter on global investing – as well as the author of 18 books on investing.