Of course the Conservatives should be the party for workers. But they must also be the party for those out of work

It's about having the right values, not attracting the 'right' people

Share

The Conservative Party is having an identity crisis, anxious that it is currently unrepresentative of  - and unattractive to - many parts of modern Britain.  So this week it has floated the idea of badging itself as The Workers Party, with ladders as its logo, to appeal to many of those on modest incomes who too often think the Tories are “the party of the rich”.

It is right that the party does more to represent and support hard-working, aspirational people, both politically and morally. As Neil O’Brien and Anthony Wells showed in their report, Northern lights, the governing party of the date is almost always the one leads among C2 voters, the skilled working class. Cameron needs to do more to woo them.

More importantly, hard-working people on ordinary incomes have, on average, seen a reduction in their living standards for nearly a decade as a result of stagnant wages and rising prices.

Political and policy resource should be dedicated to correcting this unfairness, and giving hope for these families. Hence recent calls from leading Conservatives to strengthen the minimum wage and further reduce taxation on low-income workers. The party should concentrate on this agenda between now and the next election.

However, a note of caution. The rebranding follows criticism - often within the Conservative Party itself - that the Tories are becoming a club for posh boys with a cabal of Etonians writing the next Conservative manifesto. Not only is this untrue, it whiffs of class politics. Very un-Conservative.

You see, those on the centre-right are typically cautious about identity politics. It can often be pushed by those keen to signify their specialness. And, at its extreme, it can conjure division between – and inaccurate and unhelpful stereotyping - of different social groups. Though individuality and diversity should be celebrated, it is important to emphasise shared values and customs to encourage inclusiveness and strengthen a civilised, flourishing society.

Conservatism is most compelling and powerful when it advocates that you should be treated and rewarded on the basis of your contribution and ideals, not your identity or background. A “classless society”, as John Major famously commented. So it doesn’t matter whether you went to Eton or a school in East London, Conservatism is for you because of the values you support: hard work, yes, but commitment and responsibility, and care for the vulnerable too. 

So of course, the Conservatives need to be the party for workers. But also the party for those out of work, the vast majority of whom are desperately trying  to find a decent job. And the party for those who have retired, those caring for children, and those volunteering, all contributing enormously. A party of the right values – aspiration, family, compassion - not the “right” people.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children who fled the violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo play at a refugee camp in Jabaa, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley  

A population bigger than London's has been displaced in Syria, so why has the Government only accepted 90 refugees?

David Hanson
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Ukip on the ropes? Voters don’t think so

Stefano Hatfield
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project