The new-look Conservative Way Forward (CWF) is finally gearing up for its full launch. While the proto-Thatcherite group had hoped to launch some time in April or early May, it looks like it’s now battle ready to drum up support for free market policies within the parliamentary party. Convenient timing given the events of the last week in SW1…
Group chairman Steve Baker and Westminster spinner Ed Barker have joined forces to lead the charge, with both now listed as directors on the campaign’s Companies House page. Barker is a seasoned political campaigner who worked with Steve Baker throughout the Brexit years, including in the running of the Covid Recovery Group. Who also in a previous life played as a saxophonist for George Michael…
A few careless whispers throughout SW1 last week led to Baker’s pre-launch memo spreading like wildfire with Tory MPs ahead of Boris’s no-confidence vote, and Guido’s got his hands on the full pitch. It’ll come as no surprise that Baker’s view on the current state of the party is pretty grim, although he’s keen to stress that CWF’s antidote won’t be “a reheat of Thatcherism”:
“It will not try to return the Conservative Party to Thatcherism, but take these principles and adapt them for a 2022 society that is wholly different to the society in which Thatcher rose to power in 1979, and society when CWF was first founded in 1991.
We want the government to:
- Make the UK the most attractive and competitive place for investment in the world by reducing regulation, control and coercion over the economy and our lives, and by breaking down the barriers to private entrepreneurship.
- Reduce state spending and debt so that we can lower taxes and the cost of living for working families, giving them a greater a say over where their money goes, and for businesses so that they can reinvest and grow.
- Restore honest money, control state power and make government more effective. Genuine cost benefit analysis in Government, reform the way in which expert advice is provided to ministers including an Office of Research Integrity, and a new Public Health Act to ensure the most important decisions ministers make on our basic liberties are truly scrutinised by Parliament.”
Yet another attack on government policy from the right flank…
Steve Baker with a withering put-down of Boris in the Chamber this afternoon, revealing he will vote in favour of Labour’s investigation motion – and calling for the Prime Minister to resign:
“I feel much more Ezekiel 7:3 about this… I don’t want to forgive him
“I am afraid I am now in a position where I have to acknowledge that if the Prime Minister occupied any other office of senior responsibility, if he was a secretary of state, if he was a minister of state, a parliamentary under secretary, a permanent secretary, a director general, if he was the chief executive of a private company or a board director he would be long gone.
The Prime Minister should be long gone, I’ll certainly vote for this motion but really, the Prime Minister should just know, the gig is up.”
Steve Baker has a strong moral core, perhaps this should not have been unexpected…
Guido understands Conservative Way Forward (CWF) organisation will relaunch next month, with chairman Steve Baker set to unveil the leading members of the group’s parliamentary council and drum up much needed support for free market policies within the party. Just in time for the government’s tax hikes…
The plan is to spend the next few weeks fundraising ahead of the launch. The big policy focus, Guido hears, will be on housing. They’re also keen to present a softer, more ‘pro-social’ side to their campaigning and policy agenda. “Acting as radicals, dressing as moderates”…
There’s a real concern within the CWF ranks that the unstable political climate – tax hikes, the energy crisis, inflation – could lead to backsliding into Corbynite policies dressed up as fiscal responsibility and “levelling up”, instead of the nominally Conservative government actually offering conservative ideas again. Last night Guido was surprised to hear an actual Tory grandee expressing the old fashioned idea that cutting taxes would help with the cost of living rising. Free markets, deregulation, and personal responsibility all need to be back on the policy agenda. Guido’s told to expect a few surprising faces leading the charge…
Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics is that “the simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies”. When it comes to the government’s Oil & Gas Authority quango the axiom’s truth is clear. The quango has ordered Cuadrilla to permanently seal the two shale gas wells drilled at the Lancashire shale exploration site, with the result that the 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas located in the northern Bowland Shale gas formation will continue to sit unused – when just 10% of this volume could meet UK gas needs for 50 years. UK imports of Natural Gas are expected to skyrocket to over 80% by 2050.
According to Cuadrilla’s CEO, Francis Egan:
“Cuadrilla has spent hundreds of millions of pounds establishing the viability of the Bowland Shale as a high-quality gas deposit. Shale gas from the North of England has the potential to meet the UK’s energy needs for decades to come, yet ministers have chosen now, at the height of an energy crisis, to take us to this point.
Once these wells are filled with cement and abandoned it will be incredibly costly and difficult to rectify this mistake at the PNR site. Safe shale gas offers us a chance to combat the cost-of living crisis, create 75,000 jobs and deliver on the ‘levelling up agenda’ in Red Wall areas, in addition to reducing our reliance on imported gas so that Britain becomes more energy secure. What’s more ridiculous is that leaving our own shale gas in the ground will make reducing global emissions even harder. Emissions from importing gas are far higher than those from home-produced shale gas. I don’t think that this has been properly thought through.”
Craig Mackinlay, the MP who chairs the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, is livid:
“Following last week’s hike in gas prices, my constituents are concerned about one thing: the cost-of-living crisis. If this government really wants to deliver on the people’s priorities, help them through the crisis and level up it should not be depriving the country of access to cheap and reliable energy sources. Doing this at the height of an energy crisis is utter madness. What’s more, if the Government wants to achieve Net Zero by 2050, this move will make it impossible. It will force us to import more gas instead, when UKOOG and the Climate Change Committee have already told us that the carbon footprint of imported gas is so much higher than homegrown shale gas.
Steve Baker also tells Guido, “By abandoning our shale gas industry, we will inflict more costs on our constituents and make Net Zero even more difficult to deliver given that importing gas is more carbon intensive than producing it at home.” Also given the geo-political situation it is bad from an energy security point of view, see how Putin has Germany over a barrel…
Andy Samuel will be stepping down as CEO of the Oil & Gas Authority in the summer. During his tenure the organisation has become more aligned with the fashionable Net Zero goals of Extinction Rebellion than the needs of Britain’s hard pressed energy consumers facing ever-rising energy bills. Boris and Kwasi need to ensure that the new leadership of this quango is focused on securing cheap energy resources, onshore and offshore, including abundant cheap shale, rather than closing down energy sources.
Steve Baker tells Nick Robinson:
“It’s a sorry situation we’re in, I’m appalled we’ve reached this position. We didn’t make Boris Johnson Prime Minister because of his meticulous grasp of tedious rules… at the moment it does look like check mate but whether he can save himself we’ll see”