Cllr Ben Bradley is the MP for Mansfield and the Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council.
I’ve always argued that a conversation about culture and values is central to everything; not just to my constituents, but across all parts of Government.
Everything comes back to those values; be it finances and how government chooses to prioritise taxpayers’ money, or our nation’s immigration policy or what we choose to teach children in our schools.
Too often over the past few years, government has not been robust in pursuing a common-sense approach on the cultural issues that my constituents care about.
That’s also led us down a path of ‘meddling’, or prioritising areas that are not central to what the state is for. It’s lead us to spend more on superfluous things, to the detriment of core public services.
Mansfield voted heavily to leave the EU, and one of the big reasons for this was undoubtedly a feeling that we should have more control over comings and goings across our borders.
Under Boris Johnson, the Government has listened to these concerns and taken steps, but certainly not managed to sort it out. He sought to implement changes to our immigration system that I know were welcomed across my constituency; policies such as the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Rwanda Asylum Plan are steps towards ensuring our immigration system functions for the benefit of those in the UK and addressing concerns around immigration.
However, the ECHR ruling on the Rwanda policy showed that even more needs to be done. Leftist commentators are always quick to point out that people are not landing in dinghies in Mansfield, but my constituents prioritise this issue because they want to see ‘fairness’ across our services and our spending. We’ve never had enough focus on this issue.
Whilst we’re off meddling in the ‘diversity’ of our public sector staff or legislating to limit free speech, we’re not concentrating our fire power on those issues that are economically, socially and electorally vital.
We’re spreading ourselves too thin, trying to keep the loudest activists on side, and are therefore failing to meet expectations of the majority of our citizens.
One reason that I backed Kemi Badenoch early on in this leadership election is her bravery on cultural issues. In her role as an Equalities Minister she was very forceful in pushing back on the divisive ideas put forward by today’s social justice warriors.
In particular, she’s really pushed back against the erosion of common-sense ideas around what constitutes a woman, making sure that the rights of women are upheld, as well as on critical race theory and other difficult topics.
It may upset some Twitter activists, but these are the issues where my constituents get absolutely fed up of politicians avoiding difficult subjects or kow-towing to the loudest voices at the expense of the majority! I hear things like ‘why are they banging on about that when they can’t even sort the roads out?’ on an almost daily basis from my constituents.
We need a leader that is going to be strong on issues of identity politics and the erosion of our conservative values, or our hard fought rights, and move the conversation back to those public services that matter most.
During the leadership contest in Parliament, I was on a radio show where Kemi was called a ‘Marionette’; a puppet for the conservative establishment, for standing up for common sense and balanced debate on issues of race and gender in education. This shows just how strong and resolute our new leader will need to be on these cultural issues, on being proud of our country’s history, and having clear, strong values.
The angry, shouty left will not accept that the majority don’t share their view, and tackling this will be hard, but it’s vital.
Government has increasingly become involved in regulating the online space too, beyond just policing what is illegal, but now in to new realms of free speech.
We all know there are all sorts of issues with social media; I’ve had death threats against myself and my whole family from individuals online. However, this does not mean the Government has to become involved to the extent that it is seeking to, particularly because such things – death threats, inciting violence or terror etc – are already illegal.
When you cross a line in to policing the ‘legal but harmful’ you’re infringing on freedoms, giving inappropriate powers to big tech companies to decide what is ‘harmful’, and using vast resource to get involved in things that are not core business, and that are probably impossible (or unhelpful) to achieve.
Sometimes the answer can’t be found in legislation, and in fact bad laws can make things worse.
Too often government has sought to be all things to all men when this is not feasibly possible. It grows our tax burden, and it pleases no one. It’s time to stop worrying about what the Mirror is going to write and govern on the culturally common-sense approach that is widespread throughout the country. Why are we messing around with diversity targets when people can’t get their passports on time? Lets get the basics right and rebuild trust in the system!
All things come back to our culture. We’ve developed in to a society where government has to have all the answers, and where that answer is always to ban something or legislate for something. It’s not right and it’s not sustainable, either financially or for the fabric of our society.
The Conservative Party was once one of practical common sense, of getting things done, of sound financial management – and also of conservative social values. At least some of that has been seriously eroded and damaged. A new leader needs to take radical steps to fix it.