We need to sound upbeat again, say Tory modernisers the 2020 Group


A group of Conservative MPs is trying to inject new life into David Cameron's stalled project to modernise the party by producing a raft of new policy ideas.

Tory modernisers admit the optimistic vision of  “compassionate Conservatism”  Mr Cameron set out after becoming party leader in 2005 was derailed by the need to cut spending in the age of austerity.

Now the economy is growing again, they want to ensure the Tories have an upbeat, positive message at next year’s general election. Some are worried that, in an attempt to see off the threat from Ukip, the Tories will fight the election on a negative, pessimistic agenda focusing on issues such as immigration and welfare cuts. They fear that this could revive claims that the Tories are “the nasty party.”

Modernisers are drawing up their own shopping list of social as well as economic policies for the party’s manifesto which will cover areas not normally seen as “Tory issues”.  For example, they will call for mental health, seen as the “Cinderella of the NHS,” to be given equal priority to other health services. 

The 2020 Group includes about a quarter of the 303 Tory MPs and many of them entered Parliament at the last election. It is not a left or right faction within the party but promotes “a modern progressive Conservatism.”

Baroness Morgan row: Ofsted sacking is part of Tory cull of women, claims Labour  

Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister and co-founder of the group, told The Independent: “Change, hope and optimism was the clarion call of David Cameron's leadership campaign in 2005 and underpinned the sense of change and new ambition he brought to the Conservative Party. But since then, Labour took our country to the brink of ruin, into the deepest recession of modern times and together with their reckless public spending, changed the terms of political trade.”

Mr Barker added: “The world has moved on dramatically since 2005. The 2020 Conservatives have set about refuelling that original, optimistic and aspirational agenda with progressive and challenging ideas, right for our times.”  He said the group would put forward “transformational policies which also paint a picture of what an aspirational Britain could look like by the end of the decade, proving that far from being driven into silos, progressive Conservatives are reaching out right across the political agenda.”

The group’s first submission to the Tory manifesto process, published Monday, calls for a major drive to boost productivity by making better use of resources instead of relying on cutting labour costs. It says that Britain is lagging behind its rivals in areas such as recycling and “remanufacturing” so that materials or parts have a second or third life. It urges the Government to transfer responsibility for waste from the Environment to the Business department.

Laura Sandys, the Tory MP who wrote the report, “Sweating our Assets,” said such a push could result in a 12 per cent increase in annual profits for manufacturers; create more than 300,000 jobs in the “remanufacturing sector”; improve Britain’s balance of payments by £20 billion by 2020 and save £3 billion by reduced landfill costs and retaining the value of resources.

Theresa May is the Tory grassroots favourite for leader to follow David Cameron  

Cameron allies reject criticism that he is a pragmatist who lacks vision.  But some MPs admit that his “Big Society” theme at the 2010 election was too vague and flopped.  They want to ensure that next year’s manifesto is full of pragmatic “real world” policies  that  answer the question: what would Mr Cameron   do if he wins an overall majority next year?

Some modernisers fear that Lynton Crosby, the Australian strategist running the Tory campaign, will want to focus on the economy, immigration and welfare cuts rather than “softer” social issues.

Nicky Morgan, a Treasury minister and member of the 2020 Group, warned last month that the Tories could win only if they did not use the language of “hate” and being “anti-this” and “anti-that” but needed a positive message.

“We need a bit of sunshine now that the economic clouds are lifting,” one Tory MP said — a reference to a 2006 speech by Mr Cameron in which he said: “Let sunshine win day.”  He also argued that the economy should be about GWB (general well being) as well as GDP (gross domestic product).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine