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Our relationship with the state

Our relationship with the state

6th September 2021 - 28th November 2021

Our Relationship with the State

The unifying purpose of the UK’s national security and international policy is to ensure that the things that define us as a nation – our open society and economy founded on democratic values – remain sources of strength and comparative advantage, driving prosperity and improving the well-being of people across the Union.”

Tensions between democratic and authoritarian states are highly likely to become more pronounced, as authoritarian states seek to export their domestic models, undermine open societies and economies, and shape global governance in line with their values.” (The Cabinet Office, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, 16 March 2021)i

Back in 2017-18, the CPF led the Party in a reflection on what constitutes Conservative values. Over 1,200 members from at least 132 constituencies identified a list of distinctive and enduring core priorities that they felt the Party should draw on in navigating the challenges of our age. About 4,000 Party members then rated the importance of each of these values. The set that most clearly defined Conservatism, in the view of these members, was as follows:

  • pro-freedom

  • pro-defence

  • pro-justice

  • pro-enterprise

  • pro-democracy

  • principled

  • responsible

  • forward-looking

  • pro-opportunity

In other words, as one CPF Group observed in response to one of our recent consultations, “TheConservative Party is the party of freedom, personal responsibility and a light touch by the state.”

The question is, what does that look like in practice? CPF Groups, often ahead of emerging trends, have already been considering such issues. For instance, in response to our early 2021 consultation on the Union and Constitution, another Group proposed:

A Constitution statute defining the acts and treaties which make up the constitution, i.e. Magna Carta, the Bill of rights, the treaty and acts of union, the Parliament Act, the Representation of the people Act, Human Rights Act, Scotland Act, Wales Act, Northern Ireland Act, plus a new Act which codifies in statute law the Salisbury-Addison convention, and provides for the ability of a reformed House of Lords to veto until the next election proposals that are not in the manifesto of the governing party.”

At the end of June when we asked CPF members what topics they most wanted to discuss, this came top of the list—so, over to you!

Questions for discussion

  1. What do the enduring core values of Conservatism mean in practice for policy-making and policy-makers today?

  2. Post-Brexit, what sort of state do we want to be? What do we do with control, now that we’ve taken it back?

  3. Post-COVID, has the social contract and people’s expectations of government fundamentally changed? If so, how? If not, why not?

  4. Does “levelling-up”—and the more significant government intervention in the economy that it implies—change our relationship with the state? If so, how? If not, why not?

  5. How has the digital revolution transformed our willingness to share data and interact with government online? Do we want symmetry in our relationship with the state online/offline or are we willing to concede certain things in different domains?

  6. In an age of identity politics, what more might government do to promote social cohesion?

  7. Is there any other observation you would like to make?

Recent Government Action

  • Got Brexit done. Leaving the EU has given us the freedom to develop one of the fastest vaccine roll-outs in the world, establish eight freeports across the country, install a points-based immigration system, and negotiate new trade deals with the EU and almost 70 other countries.ii

  • Delivering our historic long-term settlement for the NHS, which will see funding increase by £33.9 billion by 2023-24. We are also investing £3.7 billion to build 40 new hospitals, and have got a record number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS.iii

  • Rolling out our historic vaccination programme, with almost nine in ten people aged 16 or over in the UK having received a first vaccine dose and almost eight in ten having received a second dose.iv

  • Providing £407 billion of support for families, jobs and businesses through the pandemic, more than almost any other country in the world—including through our furlough scheme, grants for the self-employed, and business loan schemes.v

  • Giving our police the powers and resources they need. We have recruited 9,814 officers, as we work towards hiring 20,000 by 2023, and have launched a new Beating Crime Plan to help make the country safer. Our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will deliver new powers for the police to cut crime, and reform our justice system to ensure criminals spend longer in

  • Fixing our broken asylum system. Our Nationality and Borders Bill is the cornerstone of our New Plan for Immigration, making the system fairer and more effective, deterring illegal entry into the UK, and removing from the UK those with no right to be here.vii

  • Giving every child a world-class education. By 2022-23 the total schools’ budget will have increased by £14.4 billion compared to 2019-20, the biggest increase in a decade.viii

  • Building the highest number of new homes in over 20 years. There were nearly 50,000 completed homes in the first quarter of 2021—the highest figure in over 20 years. During the same period, over 46,000 home builds were started—the highest number in nearly 15 years.ix

  • Setting out a Ten Point Plan to unleash a green industrial revolution, mobilising £12 billion of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spurring over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, helping us to meet our world-leading target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.x

  • Boosting our nation’s defence, with its largest investment since the end of the Cold War, helping to create 10,000 more jobs every year across the whole of the UK, and publishing an Integrated Review of our national security, foreign policy and approach to the global economy.1,xi


i Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Cabinet Office, 16 March 2021,

ii PMQs, Hansard, 23 June 2021,

iii PM confirms £3.7 billion for 40 hospitals in biggest hospital building programme in a generation, DHSC, 2 October 2020,; Record number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS in England, DHSC, 3 June 2021,

iv Coronavirus Dashboard, Public Health England, accessed 6 September 2021,

v Budget 2021 sets path for recovery, HMT, 3 March 2021,

vi Police to receive more than £15 billion to fight crime and recruit more officers, Home Office, 17 December 2020,; Recruitment drive delivers almost 9,000 additional police, Home Office, 29 April 2021,; Crime plan to protect victims and make streets safer, Home Office, 27 July 2021,

vii Nationality and Borders Bill, Home Office, 6 July 2021,

viii School funding boost confirmed for every local authority in England, DfE, 17 December 2020,

ix Home building stats show continued increase in starts and completions despite pandemic, MHCLG, 1 July 2021,

x PM outlines his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution for 250,000 jobs, Prime Minister’s Office, 18 November 2020,

xi PM statement to the House on the Integrated Review, Prime Minister’s Office, 19 November 2020,

Our relationship with the state
Our relationship with the state
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