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Westlake Legal Group > Tory Manifesto 2017

Hammond’s reading of the 2017 manifesto is more than a little selective

Philip Hammond’s response to the Government treating this week’s vote as a confidence matter – and therefore to withdraw the Whip from MPs who choose to vote against the Government – sought to lay down some return fire. He tweeted:

‘If true, this would be staggeringly hypocritical: 8 members of the current cabinet have defied the party whip this year. I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a “smooth and orderly” exit and a “deep and special partnership” with the EU. Not an undemocratic No Deal.’

As Steve Baker has pointed out this is comparing apples and oranges. What’s proposed by Hammond and others is not mere common-or-garden rebellion, an MP’s right to simply disagree with their party. It’s perfectly normal for people to do that and retain the Whip. The forthcoming vote, however, would have the effect of stripping the Government of its executive status, even to the point of collapsing it entirely. It’s very much not normal for MPs to vote to eject their party from government, and thereby elevate the opposition in its place, and nor is doing so compatible with retaining the Whip.

As a Government source puts it: “No one in cabinet voted to give control away to Corbyn – to keep the Government in place as a puppet while legislation is passed to neuter it, to undermine [the] negotiating position, and direct the PM. If you do not have confidence in the approach of the Government, we have to treat this as a confidence matter.”

I’m sure Hammond knows this. He isn’t a dunce or a greenhorn, and he will have considered these issues earlier this year when his allies including David Gauke defied a three-line whip but retained their Cabinet positions, in breach of all convention and good sense.

So he’s seeking to muddy the waters rather conveniently by blurring together the very different acts of defying the Whip and seeking to sink the Government.

But is the cover he claims for his actions – ‘honour[ing] our 2017 manifesto’ – correct? Again there seems to be a bit of selective reading going on.

The quotes he gives come from a sentence in the introduction of the manifesto: ‘We need to deliver a smooth and orderly departure from the European Union and forge a deep and special partnership with our friends and allies across Europe.’

Readers will note that this sentence does not commit to the continuing integration – or no-Brexit – which Hammond et al appear to be flirting with. Indeed, such an arrangement – with continued EU control of UK law – could hardly be described as a ‘partnership’ at all.

If there was any doubt about this, page 36 of the manifesto he wishes to ‘honour’ makes very clear that these are mutually exclusive states of being: ‘we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.’

Alternatively, be charitable and assume Hammond is only opposing No Deal, not pushing a continued semi-membership which would breach page 36. In that scenario, he is still mistaken to imply that the “smooth and orderly” exit is the form of a deal.

On the contrary, page 30 draws a distinction between a deal and the exit as a means of delivering it: “The best possible deal for Britain as we leave the European Union delivered by a smooth, orderly Brexit.” If “smooth, orderly Brexit” simply meant striking the deal Hammond would like, why did the manifesto draw such a distinction?

It seems the “smooth, orderly” element was about the process of leaving. For example, the smooth and orderly guarantee of legal continuity delivered by the Withdrawal Act.

Hammond’s tweet implies a rather peculiar understanding of that manifesto as a guarantee of a specific outcome to the negotiation, and a pledge that Brexit was conditional on that outcome. It did no such thing – what we ‘need’ to do is not the same as a guarantee that it will come to pass. No Government could make such a guarantee in a negotiation which has two sides, in a manifesto which pledges Parliament will have a vote on the outcome.

Indeed, the manifesto which Hammond is keen to honour gave no sign of Brexit being conditional at all. ‘When we leave the European Union’ (pages 27 and 78); ‘when we have left the EU’ (page 38); ‘We are leaving the European Union’ (page 31); ‘the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union’ (page 35).

It couldn’t be much clearer – there is no line in the manifesto that says ‘we might leave the EU, but only if the process passes tests that Philip Hammond isn’t applying publicly at this stage’. The manifesto is in fact explicit that what Hammond now calls ‘undemocratic No Deal’ is a possibility, and preferable in the circumstance of a bad deal: ‘we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’ (page 36).

The former Chancellor might still believe that May’s deal was a good deal. But if Parliament, and now the Government, disagrees with him, there’s nothing in the manifesto requiring them to postpone Brexit.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Mansfield: Brexit by October 31. Stop using the Left’s language. And stand for skilled workers. Essentials for our next Prime Minister

Iain Mansfield is a former senior civil servant, winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs Brexit prize and a Conservative councillor candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.

Our next Prime Minister will take office at the most challenging time since the 1970s. Not only is there Brexit – an issue of fundamental national importance, that has destroyed the last two Prime Ministers and poses an existential challenge to the future of the Conservative Party – but the old political assumptions are changing. Across the West, traditional voter coalitions are shifting, as citizens reject centrist compromises. Flatlining productivity, unaffordable houses and millions of voters feeling abandoned, either culturally or economically, are just some of the challenges they will face.

Many of those who voted for David Cameron in 2010 are lost to the party, alienated by Brexit. In Britain today, age and education level are better predictors of a person’s vote than class. To win a general election, our next Prime Minister must forge a new coalition of voters that unites the traditional Tory shires with the left-behind Leave voters in the Midlands and North. Even more importantly, they must deliver authentic right-wing policies that address the causes of ordinary working people’s dissatisfaction. People want change and, if the Conservative Party does not deliver it, they are likely to seek answers in the flawed blandishments of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism.

In that context, there are three essentials that our next Prime Minister must prioritise for the good of the people, the nation and the party:

  • Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed.
  • Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left.
  • Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes.

Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed

Not only is delivering on the outcome of the referendum a democratic imperative, it is vital for the continued existence of the party. Recent polling shows that, if we have not left the EU, the Conservatives are likely to suffer devastating losses in a general election; these figures could be even worse if large numbers of members, councillors or even entire associations defect to the Brexit Party. Many members have held on over the last few months purely out of hope that the next Prime Minister would deliver where May failed: another betrayal in October would see these members permanently lost.

Leaving with a deal is preferable, if some changes to the backstop can be agreed and Parliament will pass it. If not, as I have argued previously on this site, we have nothing to fear from No Deal. Preparations for such should be put into top gear on the first day in office. The Prime Minister must make clear that they will under no circumstances ask for an extension; and that they are, if needed, prepared to systematically veto any measure put forward by the EU on regular business if the UK is for some reason kept in. While every effort should be made to secure a deal, if it cannot be reached, Parliament must be faced with the simple choice of permitting a WTO exit or voting no confidence in the Prime Minister – a gamble, admittedly, but one that is preferable to another disastrous extension.

Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left

In recent years too many Conservative politicians have allowed our opponents to define the playing field. We cannot beat the socialists by adopting the language and assumptions of socialism. Our next Prime Minister must stop feeding the narrative of identity, grievance and division, with its assumption that an individual’s potential is defined by their characteristics, that so-called ‘burning injustices’ are solely the responsibility of the state to address, and that the government always no best.

Changing the narrative will be a long endeavour. The systematic appointment of those with conservative values into key ministerially appointed positions; an authentically right-wing approach to policy making in Whitehall; and the withdrawal of state funding from the network of organisations that maintain the left’s grip on the policy narrative are essential. But over and above this, the Prime Minister must be willing to personally stand up and champion individual liberties and freedoms; to condemn progressive authoritarianism and to be visibly proud of Britain, our culture and the rich global heritage of our citizens.

Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes

Young, metropolitan graduates may once have been natural Conservatives, but no longer. There is little hope of reversing this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. Instead of squandering our effort here, our new Prime Minister should instead make the party the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes, particularly in the midlands and north.

Such voters have a natural affinity to the traditional conservative values of low tax and individual liberty, but also greatly value and rely day-to-day onn strong public services. This places the Conservatives in a difficult position after a decade of austerity: Labour made hay campaigning on cuts to police numbers and falls in per pupil spending in 2017. But how to fund significant increases in core services without raising taxes or alienating core Conservative voters, such as via the disastrous proposals on social care in the 2017 manifesto?

To find the funding the next Prime Minister must be bold enough to slay the progressive sacred cows that soak up billions annually in public funding. Three immediately spring to mind:

With the additional £15 billion plus a year, the Prime Minister could at a stroke increase police funding by 25 per cent (£3 billion), boost school funding per pupil by 20 per cent (£8 billion) and increase spending on social care by 20 per cent (£4 billion). And then split the proceeds of further growth between public services and tax cuts.

As well as this, we should champion the interests of the high street, enterprise and small businesses and oppose crony corporatism. Multinational companies that make use of aggressive tax avoidance, abuse their market position or actively work against UK sovereignty should not enjoy government grants, procurement or time in No. 10. Fundamentally, our next Prime Minister should spend more time listening to the Federation of Small Businesses and less time listening to the CBI.


As members, we have two candidates set before us. Both are able politicians and tested leaders who represent the best the Parliamentary party has to offer. As we assess who should be not just our next leader, but our Prime Minister, we should do so against their ability to deliver these vital elements.

Both have committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 – but which one has the ability, the genuine will and the courage to do so by any means necessary? Both are true-blue Conservatives – but which one will truly champion our values, taking the battle to our adversaries with the eloquence and conviction of a Thatcher or a Churchill? Both recognise the importance of reaching out to new voters – but which one can devise and push through the policies needed to unite the Tory shires with the Leave voters of the north? Consider carefully and cast your vote.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mark Harper: Our social care policy should be more ambitious

Mark Harper is MP for the Forest of Dean, a former Chief Whip, and former Minister for Disabled People.

When social care is discussed in the media or in Parliament, the conversation almost always focuses on the needs of older people. What is not widely known is that just over half of the adult social care budget in England is actually spent, not on older people, but on working age adults with some form of disability. And I am going to talk about both.

A lot of the discussion on social care for older people is about how it is paid for, that is to say how you split the cost between the individual and the taxpayer. That is because many older people will have accumulated significant assets by the time they need social care, and it is reasonable that the cost is shared between them and the taxpayer. The debate is about the balance between the two.

For the last two years, the Government has been talking about how to fund social care. However, the Dilnot Commission in 2011 confirmed that the public agreed that the cost of social care for older people should be shared between the individual and the taxpayer.

We have already put down the foundations for some of the recommendations from Dilnot in primary legislation with the Care Act 2014. All that remains is to draft the secondary legislation to put the figure for the cap in. This could be done very quickly – taking action beats more talking.

Britain has a proud record of being a leading country on enabling disabled people to be more independent and get into work. I am familiar with this policy area because I was the Shadow Minister for Disabled People for almost three years, between 2007 and 2010, and the Minister for Disabled People between 2014 and 2015.

In our 2017 general election manifesto, we set out an ambition to get a million more disabled people into employment over ten years. That is the right direction of travel, but I would like to see us be more ambitious about both the destination and the speed with which we intend to reach it.

I have a suggestion: perhaps we should re-adopt the commitment we made in our 2015 manifesto that ‘we will aim to halve the disability employment gap’. The Social Market Foundation has said that the 2015 commitment would see between 200,000 to 500,000 extra disabled people in work compared to our 2017 promise. In the interests of transparency, I should explain that, as the Minister for Disabled People in the run up to the 2015 election, I may have had a hand in drafting said manifesto commitment myself!

The Social Care Green Paper offers an opportunity to set out some of the Government’s thinking and some of the options it has for action for working age adults with some form of disability. Publishing it would kick off the necessary debate about the right solutions. The Government would have an opportunity to listen to valuable feedback from disabled people, expert organisations involved in this field and the wider public. It would then be able to set out specific actions it is going to take, legislating where necessary. The sooner we begin, the sooner we can see real change taking place and the sooner disabled people will feel the benefit.

I chair the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability, and recently chaired a joint meeting with eight other relevant APPGs to talk about what we wanted to see in the Green Paper. This meeting was attended by a number of disabled people and campaigners for change. A summary of the meeting will shortly be sent to the Health and Social Care Secretary.

One clear theme that emerged was to see better joined-up working between the social care, health, and welfare systems. There is quite a lot of support available already, but it does not always work well together as a package. For example, if someone acquires a disability, the rest of their life (their work, their family) keeps going at the same pace but things can go wrong because the support they need, like social care, home adaptations, and financial help, do not get going quickly enough.

The funding of social care for working age adults is very different from funding social care for older people, as they often have few, if any, assets. Any kind of means testing for social care support for them runs the risk of creating further barriers to getting into work.

Looking at the system overall, there may be areas where an increase in spending is required but that may lead to savings elsewhere. For example, more resources available to enable somebody to work is likely to lead to better health outcomes as well as that person making a financial contribution to the public finances.

Conservatives want to enable disabled people to live their lives as independently as possible to reach their full potential. We should be ambitious about our commitments, so I would like to see us improve our goal for getting more disabled people into work, reverting to the better target we had in our 2015 general election manifesto. We need to see more effective joined up working between the social care, health, and welfare systems. To that end, publishing the Social Care Green Paper now would kick off the necessary debate. There are millions of disabled people in our country who will welcome us gripping this issue and making rapid progress to deliver real improvements to their lives.

And for those older people needing social care, swift implementation of a cap as recommended by the Dilnot Commission would lead to a much fairer system.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Gauke. Uncorked today, corked tomorrow?

This site supports the autonomy of local Conservative Associations, and believes that the Conservative Party should implement the Brexit referendum decision.  These views interact in the case of David Gauke who, later today, faces a no-confidence vote from members of his Association in South-West Hertfordshire.  They do so in the following ways.

First, this evening’s vote will not be binding.  But each local Association should have the right to select whoever it wants as its Parliamentary candidate.  If members in South-West Hertfordshire want to select a candidate other than the Lord Chancellor for the next election, that should be their right, and neither Downing Street nor CCHQ should seek to bar them.

Second, there is no suggestion that Gauke is anything less than a diligent constituency MP.  Nor is he in breach of the Conservative Manifesto’s commitments on Brexit.  Indeed, he has voted to leave the EU three times.  You may or may not like the form of Brexit that he has supported – Theresa May’s deal.  But that is beside the point, or should be.  If blocking leaving is your measure, you might as well seek to deselect every single Spartan.

Finally, the Justice Secretary will be blamed by some for helping to drive extension – and, thereby, the imposition of June’s European elections, the rise of the Brexit Party, the collapse of Tory poll ratings, and the threat to the Party’s future.  The charge is justified.  But extension is not in itself wide of the manifesto.  And the ultimate responsibility for it rests not with Gauke, but with the person who buckled under pressure, and conceded it: Theresa May.

So, in our view, his local Association should not vote today to deselect him.  But there is a sting in the tail.

The 2017 Conservative Manifesto is one thing; the next election’s manifesto will be another.  We may well be very close indeed to that election, and therefore to the manifesto being written.  Boris Johnson has committed himself to leading Britain out of the EU by October 31 at the latest.  And, in his his interview with this site yesterday, to members of a future Johnson Cabinet being fully signed up to this policy.

Gauke has already indicated, quite properly, that he couldn’t serve in such a Cabinet, if leaving on October 31 meant leaving with No Deal.  But if the Commons seeks to frustrate such as outcome, and a general election followed, the Conservative Manifesto must commit the Party to the same end as Johnson’s Cabinet appointments: in other words, to leaving the EU with No Deal if necessary.

At this point, Association autonomy and Brexit commitments may clash.  What should happen if a local Association wants, in such circumstances, to reselect a pro-Remain local Tory MP?  Our answer is uncompromising.  Autonomy must prevail.  But to say that an Association has the right to select whoever it wants as its candidates is not to say that it should simply act as it wishes. What one is free to do isn’t always what it is wise to do.

So if the next Conservative Manifesto commits to a No Deal Brexit if necessary, as it should, our take for what it’s worth is that each Association should select a candidate committed to the pledge.  If that means not selecting the present MP, so be it.  That is the principle which should apply – even if the MP in question holds an office as distinguished as that of Lord Chancellor.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com