Dealing with immigration is only victory path forward for Tories, Philip Davies insists

Tory MP Philip Davies has called for the government to tackle immigration.

Tory MP Philip Davies has called for the government to tackle immigration.

Philip Davies

By Philip Davies

Published: 17/01/2024

- 10:22

In this members-only article, Shipley MP Philip Davies sets out his verdict on what the Conservatives must now do

This year will see a General Election - almost certainly in Autumn - and if the polls are to be believed it is all over bar the shouting, Labour is heading for a 1997 landslide victory.

So where did it go wrong for the Conservative Party and how can it put things right to give itself a chance of confounding the pollsters?

The short answer regarding the government's problems is covid lockdowns. After being elected to deliver a Conservative agenda, Boris Johnson governed as a Socialist during covid. He decided to effectively close down the economy for the best part of two years, borrow huge sums of money to pay people to sit at home to do nothing and micro manage every aspect of our lives restricting our freedoms in a way that would have made Soviet leaders blush.

It was a catastrophic decision economically and politically and it will take years - if not decades - to recover from what history will judge to be the worst public policy decision in our history. The fact that Labour supported all of the lockdowns and wanted them to be longer and deeper is something that is sadly overlooked.

The lockdowns left us in an economic and financial hole with the highest burden of taxes in history required to repay the unaffordable cost.

The other things that have been politically calamitous for the government have been Liz Truss' period as Prime Minister - where her desire to cut taxes, which I support, was executed so recklessly and in such haste that our reputation was trashed and we were left 35 points adrift in the polls; and the unsustainable levels of both legal and illegal immigration.

There is no path to victory for the Conservative Party at the General Election without sorting out immigration, and Rishi Sunak - who is far more Conservative than people realise (certainly far more than Boris or Liz Truss) - is right to change the immigration rules which should reduce the number of people allowed into the country by around 300,000 per year, and his Rwanda Bill which in effect forces the courts to accept that Rwanda is a safe place to send people and allows things like the Human Rights Act and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights to be disregarded is a huge step forward in ensuring decisions made by Parliament to deal with illegal immigration are not thwarted.

Rishi has undoubtedly restored a reputation for competence, and has rightly rowed back on stupid net zero targets and an unaffordable HS2 he inherited. If the Prime Minister can also spend this year cutting the burden of taxation across the board, as well as reducing the huge levels of immigration he inherited, he might well surprise a few people come the election.

But aside from competence, there is another vital ingredient needed to win an election. It is to set out an optimistic vision for the country. Boris may have been a disappointment for those of us who had hoped he would deliver a true Conservative agenda, but he was unmatched at setting out an infectious view of the country's future that people wanted to be a part of.

The Conservative Party must restore its self-confidence in Conservatism, and not be ashamed or apologetic about it. We need to set out a vision of our country where hard work, success and doing the right thing is rewarded in both the benefits and tax system rather than penalised; a vision where the UK - with the Brexit freedoms we now enjoy - charts a path of prosperity doing more and more trade with the growing parts of the world economy rather than being trapped in a downward spiral trading too heavily with an inward facing backward looking protection racket otherwise known as the EU.

Sir Keir Starmer is trying to win the election by saying nothing and doing nothing and hoping nobody notices. At the end of this year there will either be a Conservative government or a Labour government. We have to persuade people that the former is in their interests not the latter.

Bill Clinton once said that elections are a referendum on the future. This year, Rishi Sunak has an opportunity to show that we have rediscovered our Conservatism and that the country's future is best served by a resurgent Conservative vision rather than by Sir Flip-Flop and his Labour Party which is still stuffed with people who are ashamed of our great country and its past.

We mustn't sleepwalk into handing them the levers of power to lead us into a woke and politically correct nightmare.

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