Nat Wei: Will Sunak or Truss finally stop a Conservative Government tabling un-Conservative legislation?

27 Jul

Lord Wei is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. He is a co-founder of Teach First, a social entrepreneur, and a former government adviser.

With the hustings now underway there will be lots of questions asked no doubt about how we combat the cost of living, lower tax (eventually), control immigration, and how to make the most of Brexit.

But another key question is this: how can we make sure that a Conservative government actually delivers conservative legislation? Or at the very least, stops tabling laws drafted by civil servants (often in collaboration with our political opponents) which attack directly Conservative principles such as freedom of speech and thought, or the right to privacy.

One clear glaring example of this is how the Schools Bill, authored effectively with the public backing Labour politicians such as Lord Soley, seeks to prevent parents from fulfilling their duty to educate their children as they see fit. It massively empowers local authorities to monitor how parents raise their children, imposing inspections that will bring state intrusion deeply into homes and the lives of families.

This is bad enough on its own terms. But worse is what it will empower politicians to do next.

Should a future government seek to change the national curriculum to further teach woke ideas and oppose conservative ones, our own Schools Bill as currently drafted will remove the ability of parents to take their children out of school and educate them at home.

It does this by enabling officials to inspect what is being taught and then, for the slightest, subjective reason, force parents to put their children back into school using an attendance order. If they refuse to comply, they would face a hefty fine and then up to 52 weeks imprisonment, without recourse to appeal.

(There are already unjustifiable cases of this happening today, even before this particular bill has passed.)

How did we get to a point when such a draconian, statist, and anti-freedom law even gets it onto the desk of our Education Secretary unvetted – let alone makes it to Second Reading of the House of Lords?

Many a distinguished previous Conservative education secretaries, such as Lord Baker, have highlighted how abhorrent is this Bill, with its centralising tendencies and lack of detail.

Sadly, it is not the only piece of such legislation in the pipeline. Others, such as the Online Harms Bill, are also proceeding through Parliament. In each case laudable aims are harnessed to bad laws with unintended consequences, many of which will lead to the unjust curtailment of ancient freedoms.

So if you have a question to ask at one of the hustings this summer, why not ask them what they are going to do about the Schools Bill and others like it, which seek to curtail freedoms in ways that are not only un-Tory, but which could be weaponised against Conservatives and our beliefs one day very soon?

True Conservatives believe in our ancient rights to be free: free to spend money and to put it to use how we see fit, free to take control over our sovereignty, and free to operate within the rule of law which should protect our freedoms of speech, privacy, and belief.

Which of the candidates to be our next prime minister truly believes in freedom? And which one will fight to make sure our laws guarantee this and don’t take them away?

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