There are few simple solutions to the problems that face our communites, which is why we must not rush into simplistic ‘populist’ policies, argues Simon Hoare MP
May I begin by wishing you a belated, but sincere, Happy New Year. Let us hope that it will be a calmer year for all of us.
The Opinion Polls are moving and perhaps, one could argue, that the normal rules of politics are returning?
Governments, certainly those nearly 12 years in office, rarely win by-elections and they certainly do not lead in the polls. I can remember Labour being 20-25% ahead in the polls in the 1990s and the then SDP scoring around 50% in the early 1980s. But while interesting, they make no difference to the job in hand, i.e., for the government of the day to get on with governing and delivering.
Balancing issues is key
I have been reflecting on the events that have dominated my close to seven years as your MP: the 2016 the EU referendum; 2017, my second general election; 2019, my third general election.
In between we have had confidence votes in Theresa May, the Corbyn years and two leadership elections. I am now serving under my third Prime Minister. It is indeed a curse to live in interesting times.
Most of us, I believe, crave calm seas where we can take stock, set a course and make headway. to focus on what we used to call the ‘bread-and-butter’ issues of politics.
The delivery of Brexit was always going to command a significant proportion of governance bandwidth. When we overlay the high and continuing demands of a global public health pandemic with the cross-government needs it has created, I would urge a degree of sober reflection on the performance of the Government in those bread-and-butter areas of public policy.
The impact of both events mentioned above on the public finances have yet to be fully assessed but they will be there, and they will shape how we move forward.
Our public services and infrastructure require investment and I support that. Of course, the drive for efficiencies will continue but those are not infinite seams to mine. We will need to continue to invest in order to secure a prosperity dividend of sustainable economic growth.
We’ll hold our nerve!
While we are all worried about inflationary impacts on living costs, we do our own and future generations no good if we are side-lined away from a net zero goal. Fuel costs stabilise when we can, at scale, generate sustainable power at home, rather than importing price-fluctuating foreign power sources.
On this issue the Government must hold its nerve and it’s why I’ve signed up to my colleague Chris Skidmore’s group on this. (in a tweet last week, Chris Skidmore, the Tory MP for Kingswood near Bristol, said that he had “decided to set up the Net Zero Support Group to demonstrate and maintain Conservative support for net zero carbon emissions and policies needed to deliver this” – Ed).
As I said in a recent Tweet, ‘I love my children and home planet more than anything and will do all I can for them’.
So, as we saunter through 2022 we need to keep cool heads and clear visions. Common sense, and serious and sober Tory pragmatism must command the centre ground of British politics. The tantalising siren voices of easy solutions to complex problems, the chorus of the populist stating all is black or white with the didactic certainty of a Jesuit Inquisitor, are not the answers. They never have been. They never will be.
by Simon Hoare MP