The transition from Sunday into Monday in any week is always hard. This week, though, if you’re a Conservative, it was brutal.
The extended weekend of celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee created warm feelings of pride and shared belief. What a country this is when we are all unified!
At the weekend, we didn’t care about our politics or our position. There was no “they”. There was only “we”. We were all just the people coming together to praise The Queen for her quiet self-discipline. She made a vow of loyalty in her youth and she has stuck to it throughout her long life.
We were proud of her. We were proud of the efforts made by our communities, the Royal Marines and Paddington Bear as well.
And this is the point about this country. That’s the sort of thing we’re known for: competence, continuity, stability, tradition, predictability and sense of humour. Our history has always pointed the way into our future.
Her Majesty stuck by the country, no matter that at one stage it meant working with a government that wanted to abolish her and the monarchy. There must have been times when she despaired of the division. She concentrated on getting the basics right.
That is what this government is doing. The only path to victory at the next election lies through the arch of economic growth and our citizens being able to live well. That means a modern economic framework that promotes and enables wealth creation and opportunity. It means access to GPs and dentists. It means household budgets keeping pace with bills.
The Prime Minister outlined his commitment to deliver on that and acknowledged requests from many in his party to adjust course and pick up speed.
Monday brought division. It also brought a result. While the Prime Minister trims his sails, we should remember that only unity will bring victory. The consequences of the Labour Party, or a Labour-led socialist coalition, would be disastrous. Rather than modernising government to move at the pace business and science require, they would take us backwards. Maybe even back into the EU – on worse terms, of course.
The opportunities that the electorate expect us to bring them post-Brexit could have been made for the Conservative Party. All that experience. All that ability. The flexibility and imagination of the most successful political party in Britain – or even the world, for that matter. We have huge talent and vision on our benches and in every part of the UK. It needs to be utilised.
Government needs to be able to focus on vital work and on making use of its massive majority to reform the country. For that to happen, the party must unite. What a wasted opportunity if it does not.
To its credit, the party is a diverse movement with different perspectives and opinions. This week, those differences have been to the fore, but they are sincerely held. But Conservatives MPs all have something in common: the trust placed in them by the electorate. We should not betray it. The nation needs us to deliver. To do that, we must be a team.
It’s up to us to keep things steady
Monday was also the 78th anniversary of D-Day. Those boys had a common goal and realised that if they didn’t work together, they would lose the fight. D-Day was not only a triumph for the troops. It was also an example of what is possible when we all work together towards a common goal.
I attend commemorative events every year, but coming off the back of Her Majesty’s Jubilee this year, it seemed especially poignant. It made me think of the film This Happy Breed, which was released in the same year as the landings. The central character, Frank Gibbons, a First World War veteran, attempted to cheer up his service-aged, bewildered and disheartened son.
He said: “Son, I belong to a generation of men, most of whom aren’t here anymore. And we all did the same thing for the same reason, no matter what we thought about politics. That’s all over and done with, and we’re carrying on the best we can – just as though nothing had happened.
“But as a matter of fact, several things happened and one of them was this country suddenly got tired. She’s tired now. But the Old Lady’s got stamina, don’t you make any mistake about that. And it’s up to us ordinary people to keep things steady. That’s your job and just you remember it.”
We are at an inflection point for our country. People have put their trust in us to deliver on their vision. If we fight one another, we’ll fail. If we unite and work as a team, we will succeed. That is our job and we’d better remember it.
The original Telegraph article can be found here