Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Politico| How to Save the Republican Party: Lessons From Britain’s Tories

Politico| How to Save the Republican Party: Lessons From Britain’s Tories

by Steve Hilton

"The British Conservative Party set out on such a journey of transformation 10 years ago after electing Cameron as its leader. The foundation was a policy review process that signaled new priorities and a new, open-minded approach. For example, our Social Justice policy group produced “Breakdown Britain,” a searing and forensic survey of the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom: worklessness, debt, addiction, educational failure and most important of all, family breakdown. This was followed by a detailed set of policy prescriptions (“Breakthrough Britain”) which became the template for the most serious anti-poverty effort ever implemented in government by British Conservatives, including a pay-for-success welfare-to-work program that has contributed to the UK’s spectacular jobs performance, and a complete rethinking of interventions aimed at helping families.

Other policy groups investigated broad themes from the Quality of Life to Public Service Reform to Economic Competitiveness. Each group spent 18 months on its work, involving a range of outside voices, many never previously associated with the party, and open hearings around the country.

During this time, the Conservatives celebrated entrepreneurship and small business; pioneered a new agenda of open data and government transparency, and became the champions of Britain’s burgeoning tech and start-up economy. But there was grit here too: an early full-page ad in a national newspaper promised that a Conservative government would “not just stand up for business, but stand up to big business” in the interests of wider society."

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"A more human conservatism would go beyond the stunted, limited debates on education and health care in this country, beyond “scrap Common Core” and “repeal Obamacare” and understand that the very systems we have set up to run these personal, intimate things—teaching our children and looking after us when we’re sick—have become too big and are out of date. Factory schools churn out children equipped for the previous century not this one, with endless standardized, centralized, mechanical rote learning and testing instead of personalized learning for each child that teaches the skills they will need to flourish in the future, like creativity, perseverance and collaborativeness. Factory hospitals treat people like products on a conveyor belt, with massive overprescription of drugs and medical procedures and patients surrounded by beeping machines instead of caring human beings.

Above all, a more human conservatism would realize that it’s all well and good to want to cut government down to size, but in the real world you can’t reduce the supply of government unless you first cut the demand for government. That means actually solving—not just managing—social problems, especially the deepest and most serious domestic problem of all: the entrenched poverty that has haunted America for decades."

Steve Hilton is absolutely right. Cameron was able to radically re-brand and re-image the Conservative Party. The Republican Party badly needs to take some lessons.

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