TRG National Chairman, Owen Meredith, has urged the Conservative Party not to fall into the trap of being be Labour-lite, but to put values and hope at the heart of the Party’s platform to build a winning coalition of voters.
Speaking at the annual Summer Reception, Owen said:
Good Evening. Welcome to the National Liberal Club and the TRG Summer Reception, and in particular welcome to our guest speaker, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP.
It huge privilege to welcome you here, for the first time as your Chairman. And I want to thank you firstly for putting your trust in me.
I want to start by thanking David Fazakerley. He has served the TRG for the last three years as Chairman, and for nearly a decade before that on the Board.
Over the past three years he has steered our organisation through some particularly exciting and challenging political times – with no less than two General Elections and an EU referendum.
But more importantly, he led the organisation with confidence, determination and vigour in a way that has seen us dramatically grow our membership, strengthen our finances and reform our brand.
On behalf of all of us, David, thank you.
Before I hand over to our guest tonight, I want to say a few brief words about where we are and the TRG’s role in our party.
When we planned this evening, we hoped to be celebrating an historic Conservative majority. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
But let us not lose sight of the facts – we have a Conservative Government and we have much to be proud from that election. We secured our highest vote share since Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide, winning seats like Mansfield, Stoke South, Walsall North and mighty haul of seats in Scotland!
However, we fell short, and in the coming weeks and months we need to understand why.
We in the TRG know, that in order to win again we must speak not only to people’s wallets, but also their hearts.
We need to offer people hope, and give people a compelling reason to back us.
In our 42 year history, the TRG has always been a good friend to the Conservative Party. Our mission is to be the best friend of the Party, but to know the meaning of true friendship is being able to call them out when they stray onto the wrong path.
And we’ve all seen the fallout in the news since the election, with some in our own Party calling for us to abandon fiscal discipline and enter a bidding war with Corbyn’s Labour Party to hold on to power.
Let me be clear, that is not the right path. It is not the job of the Conservative Party to be Labour-lite.
It is the job of the Conservative Party – and one that we briefly seemed to forget – to explain our values. To spell out the virtues of capitalism, to vigorously defend the success of markets in lifting millions of people out of poverty, and to ensure Britain remains an open, internationalist, tolerant society.
We owe that not only to the people who put their trust in us in June, but to everyone in our country, and the generations yet to come who would pay the penalty of our failure to defend those values.
Cutting the deficit, reducing welfare dependency, competitive taxes. These are not ideological positions in themselves, but actions we take to deliver lasting improvements to ordinary people’s lives.
In my own campaign in Newcastle-under-Lyme, I met so many who had seen their taxes fall, been able to buy their first home, or secured a job thanks to Conservative policies. Helping people get in life, and reach their potential. That is why we are Conservatives.
And as the TRG, it is our job is to ensure that everything our Party does, we do with a social conscience, putting people at the heart of policy.
Compassionate Conservatives, One Nation Tories, call us what you like, the TRG will continue to be unashamed and uninhibited in our championing of the Conservative Party’s social conscience.
To be the champions of a Conservative Party where we deliver realistic economic policy, generous and open-minded social policy and internationalist foreign policy.
And we have a great team to deliver it… I’m delighted that we have welcomed Nick, James and Craig as new Board members this evening, alongside familiar faces you will know.
It’s been a busy time, a tough few years, and with it a lot of insecurity. I’m grateful to David for all his work for the TRG in that time and I’m excited about the future and to be stepping into those shoes tonight.
As our party rightly reflects on the events of the past months, we in the TRG will continue to build our organisation and to campaign for Conservative values.
We will be raising our voice to promote the breadth of talent within the Conservative Party, and ensure One Nation values are always at the heart of our party’s thinking.
There is a huge task ahead of us. A task to reform, to refresh.
We need to build a fresh offer to the electorate that gathers a new coalition of voters and secures the next Conservative majority.
As the home of One Nation Conservatives, the home of reform, the TRG stands ready to work with our guest speaker this evening, and others around the Cabinet Table and across the party, to ensure together, we succeed in that task.