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Some people in public life are ideologues – they have a belief or raft of views around which they bend policy on anything and everything. The hard left and hard right are that way inclined. They would argue that by having clearly defined, even unbendable, principles they are more likely to do the right thing.Others are rigidly party political “Tory good, Labour bad,” or vice versa. “We have a monopoly of correctness and through thick and thin we must deliver on our Manifesto.” The trouble with both ideologues and partisans is that they are incapable of admitting even the slightest error; and of course, they cannot under any circumstances deviate from their predetermined ‘straight and narrow’.The other problem is that it is not a very British way of going about things. We are a pragmatic, easy going bunch. We want a strong economy, secure jobs, decent housing and environment, good schools for our kids and long-term care for our elderly. We either support whichever party we believe is most likely to achieve that; or at least, as Churchill wryly remarked “choosing the least bad of the options available.”I personally have little interest in tribal politics, my primary interest being the people of North Wiltshire (and shortly the South Cotswolds too). There are lots of things the Tories have done with which I disagreed; and a few which Labour espouse which I support. Many of my friends are Labour MPs- and I subscribe to the view that all MPs enter Parliament determined to do the best for their constituencies, and for the county as a whole. It’s just that our areas differ (S Cotswolds compared to East Glasgow), and that our solutions to the Nation’s ills may therefore be miles apart. What we all long for is competence.Competence is what I believe that we Tories are now offering the country- both in next week’s local government elections, and then in the General Election to follow in 18 months or so. It may not be ideologically pure; it may not be especially ‘Conservative’; but it delivers what the people want- high quality local services at a firmly controlled Council Tax level. People don’t want gimmicks; they don’t want party political shenanigans; they want their bins emptied and their old folk looked after (and the pot-holes mended). It is my firm view that Tory Councils do exactly that.It’s the same nationally. Rishi Sunak and his Administration may not be flashy; they may not be PR whizz kinds. But they have set about pragmatically sorting out a series of problems, and there are early signs that they are close to achieving some part of our five pledges: 1. halving inflation (just starting), 2. growing the economy (will follow 1), 3. Reducing debt (not yet, but will come with growth) 4. Cutting NHS waiting lists (still pending) and 5. stopping small boats (Act passed this week). On top of that they are close to solving the Nothern Irish/Brexit conundrum; and they have played a blinder with the evacuation from Sudan.One of my prized possessions is an election card for my predecessor Captain Victor Cazalet (Elected 1924, killed in 1941 in the Sikorski crash in Gibraltar). It reads “ Victor Cazalet. The Man you know. No wild promises but a record of performance and a policy of steady progress.” That seems to me to be a modest, pragmatic, sensible and competetnt approach to politics and it is one which I strongly espouse. The Conservative Party may not be flashy, may not be dogmatic or ideoloogical. But it is highly competent and gives the people what they want - first class services at an affordable price. Straightforward competence at National and local level.

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James Gray
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Published Date
April 28, 2023