So Tony Blair has gone…Our crypto-Conservative Prime Minister of the last 10 years can no longer distort the classic battle of left and right.
This is a good moment to launch the redesigned Cornerstone website.
We represent traditional Tory themes of nation, family, enterprise and compassion, founded on Judaeo-Christian ethics.
We keep the flame burning because we believe that a vigorous discussion about Conservative ideas can be of immense value to our party in the remaining two or three years to the General Election.
The election results last week were solid, if not spectacular in the North and the Midlands. Nevertheless an extra 911 seats marks significant progress
We have made a very good start. We need to do more.
We have a most attractive, young and personable leader, whom we support as the democratically elected leader of our Party. For Britain’s sake, we must ensure that he is our next Prime Minister.
We applaud our leader’s decision to reach out to people who have yet to vote for us, and for him to talk about environmental and poverty issues, where we have undersold ourselves in the past – and to speak up in favour of marriage. ‘And’, not ‘but’ or ‘however’. And.
We need to recognise that the people, our people, the aspiring people of this country, are labouring under record levels of taxation, regulation and stultifying political correctness.
We need to explain how we will root out waste and inefficiency from our public services.
We need to explain how we will return people’s hard-won earnings to where they belong – their own families.
David Cameron is right that marriage is the bedrock of society. Sadly the selfless coming together of men and women with a genuine attempt at commitment for life is under sustained assault.
We need to explain how we will buttress and support it through the tax and benefit system, as George Osborne has begun to do.
More and more powers are still seeping out of our historic Parliament to unaccountable European bureaucrats. We must explain how we will reverse the trend.
Record levels of immigration are straining good race relations. We must develop tough but fair policies that stem the tide.
Speaking personally, I believe that too many children suffer from indifferent comprehensive schools. As I have argued previously, we must articulate our belief in parental choice, including vouchers and freedom for head teachers to hire and fire, select and de-select, that will set schools free.
We must use tax relief to help more people afford private health care for the irritating non-urgent conditions which the NHS cannot afford to cope with as we all live longer.
Over the coming weeks and months, colleagues will be free to post on this website their detailed ideas for the future.
Let me be clear, there is no corporate Cornerstone view; everybody is responsible for their own words.
Over the coming months there will also be periodic ‘thought for the day’ comments from a Cornerstone member.
All this is offered up in the spirit of making a positive contribution to the Conservative policy development process which reaches its conclusion this summer and autumn.
I believe that our faith in our country, our families and in the hard work of the British people must be proclaimed by a Conservative Party that is rooted in never-changing beliefs and principles.
I hope that Cornerstone members will make a positive and useful contribution to the success of our Party.
Edward Leigh is Co-Chairman of The Cornerstone Group.