The Conservative Woman is a voice for social conservative values and solutions to modern day problems. It leans to the Right. But it also aims to strengthen respect for religion across society. Should we therefore hesitate when the Church of England bishops’ election letter and so many other statements from the Church espouse left-wing solutions to today’s problems?
The answer is this: the Left, and that includes the Church of England’s bishops, are undoubtedly nice. They really are. They want to do the right thing. But they do not understand fully how our society works. They think superficially and are therefore wrong about the solutions they advocate. It is as simple as that.
Here are some examples.
The bishops advocate increasing the minimum wage. Fair enough. It’s a nice idea. We all want to be nice to those working. But the reality is this. High wages in the UK have been part of the destruction of our manufacturing industry. They have removed jobs for the least skilled in our society and made our country poorer. In addition, as Frank Field points out, the principle of free movement of labour in the EU was fine when wage levels were similar in EU countries. It doesn’t work when the minimum wage in Romania is £2 per hour and that in the UK £6.50. What happens? Employers choose skilled workers from Eastern Europe instead of the more vulnerable UK workers. Those at the bottom lose out.
Conservatives who have reservations about increasing the minimum wage are not ‘nasty’: they are people who care for vulnerable workers in our society and for our society as a whole.
The bishops say: ‘Thatcher’s market revolution emphasised individualism…the paradigm for all relationships became competitive individualism, fragmenting social solidarity at many levels.’ This is such a parody of Thatcherism as to be untrue. When Thatcher came to power, society was already fragmented. The competitive individualism that reigned was that of union members, who used their power to further their own interests to the detriment of our whole society. Our unionised, over-manned manufacturing industries died because they resisted the market revolution. Had they become market driven earlier, many more jobs would have been saved.
Of course Thatcher pointed to an individual component to society, that it is the responsibility of the vast majority of us to look after ourselves and our families. As society has moved towards the State providing for more than the obviously vulnerable, the incentives for people to look after themselves, and fathers to look after their children, have reduced. The State now carries a burden that it can no longer afford. It is not ‘nasty’ to make these points but simply practical.
Conservatism hesitates at changes in society’s structures. The Left are keen to liberalise divorce law to help ‘all those women in oppressive marriages’. The conservative thinks it through and sees the change to bring greater problems, as many more women are made unhappy by being abandoned by men who make equal use of the freedom to divorce or, worse, avoid marriage to avoid the financial penalty of divorce.
Conservatives resist overspending because they don’t want the next generation to pay for this generation’s excesses. The Left call this ‘austerity’ and continue borrowing. Which of these positions is nasty?
Of late, Conservative thinking has become superficial. The party has become far too ready to accept the label ‘nasty’. Its response has been to change its policies to those of other parties to make itself look ‘nicer’. This has continued, surprisingly, throughout a Labour leadership which would have been much more vulnerable to clear argument than the point-scoring of current debate.
From the USSR to France and Venezuela, the policies of the Left look nice on the surface but lead to disaster.
Our bishops say ‘we need a richer justification for the State.’ Conservatives might say that we need better to explain the intellectual and moral arguments for Conservatism.