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As a result of lacking these powerful positive arguments for the liberal social market, Conservatives were deprived also of the only powerful critique of Corbynomics — namely, that it fosters a cruel illusion of handouts for all while employing, in the pursuit of an egalitarian fantasy, state controls, nationalisation, deficit financing and investment-destroying levels of taxation which will inevitably undermine the ability of the free market to produce the growth and the exchequer revenues on which the public services and welfare system of a social market in fact depend.

So much for analysis. What about the future? What should liberal Conservatives do next? The answer is that we should promote policies that will actually address the underlying issues. The temptation, of course, is to seek some sudden cure-all, some new way of solving the challenges facing us. But this is neither necessary nor possible.

We continue to live in a prosperous and stable society, enjoying both liberties and a quality of life that few in the history of the world have been able to enjoy. As we struggle to deal with what are, in essence, the long-dated effects of 2008, we need to keep our eyes firmly on what will work rather than on what might sound fashionably populist. This means that we need to deliver a Brexit which includes a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU as well as friction-less customs transactions, and thereby preserves our strong industrial and commercial interests, while liberating us from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. It also means that we need to maintain policies on tax, public spending, public borrowing, public services, deregulation, infrastructure, technology transfer and inward investment that will increase domestic productivity and stimulate domestic growth. But, beyond these economic considerations, it means that we need policies on tax thresholds, public services, welfare, redistribution, social policy, international aid, environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility that will make the free market a sufficiently social market and the basis of a sufficiently liberal state, to be justified in the eyes not only of those in the middle of their lives who are prospering but also those who are looking for security in retirement, those who are young, aspirational and liberally inclined, and those who are concerned about the fate of the least advantaged and of the planet.

None of this will be easy or straightforward. Providing good, sane government isn’t ever easy or straightforward. But the fact that doing the right thing isn’t easy shouldn’t be taken as a reason either for pessimism or for making concessions of a kind that would lead us to do the wrong thing. As we pass through uncertain times and changing circumstances, the values of social market liberalism are permanent — because they are the truth about what works best for our people, our civilisation and our planet. There is no reason for them to be abandoned. Now, more than ever, we need to govern by them.
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