Over the past year or so we have seen some interesting divisions in those people who either vote Conservative or are members of the Conservative party.  A distinct division between those who are socially conservative people who want to preserve the social norm and those conservatives who are socially liberal.  One that I think has come to the front heavily on the equal marriage debate.

Now on this issue David Cameron has said he supports this issue because it is a conservative issue, and I have to whole heartedly agree with him on this.  Such a reform is typical of the previous great Conservative leaders of the past.  This is why when I look around at what is being said by some people, I think that some Conservatives have lost their way.  They have become literalists in the name thinking that to be a good Conservative you have to conserve what we have and change should only happen if it is totally needed. 

To them I say poppy cock, if we look at the history of our party we can see vast swathes of social reform instigated not preservation of the norm we see the forming and forging of great ideas of progress, liberty and opportunity for all. 

Let’s start with Sir Robert Peel, who as Home Secretary prior to becoming Prime Minister completely reformed the statute books having a bonfire of laws and replacing them with more simple easy to understand laws.  Then going on, as Prime Minister, to introduce the Factory Act’s which limited the times that women and children could be made to work.  The Railway Regulation act, the repeal of the Corn Laws.  All great social changes to improve the lives of everyday people.

Then we have The Earl of Derby, who without his Jews’ Relief Act we wouldn’t have had Benjamin Disraeli as he wouldn’t have been allowed to have been an MP in the first place.  Who’s work was hugely socially reforming the Chimney Sweepers Act, the Public Health Act and Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act. 

Who lead on to the Marquess of Salisbury, with his introduction of Local Government, the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act and hugely the Free Education Act 1891 which ensured that all children received a free primary education.  Then finally the Workmen’s Compensation Act, which ensured that if someone was injured at work they would receive recompense for it. 

Then we have Stanley Baldwin and his enfranchisement of women over the age of 21, one of the biggest social changes in democratic terms the UK has seen.  Then Churchill who set up the Council of Europe and gave people the ability to access redress for violations of their Human Rights.  Thatcher with her Right to buy, Major with his Citizen’s Charter.  Plus many many more huge social reforms I could mention. 

I look around today and I see Conservatives calling for preservation of the here and now for the restriction of liberty and equality for all people and I feel that these people have lost what it means to be a true Conservative.  To see a social inequality and want to fix it to rectify that bit of injustice in the world; this is what it is to be a Conservative not to want to preserve the here and now.  But to want to make this nation a better place for all who live here. 

That is why David Cameron is absolutely spot on when it comes to marriage equality.  So next time there is a social issue being debated think “is this change going to improve the lives and liberty of people” and if the answer is yes then to support it is the Conservative thing to do. 


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