The Tories are already putting some clear blue water between the coalition and the present majority government. Firstly, the new Business Secretary Sajid Javid has promised new tougher strike laws — ensuring that a minimum turn out of 50 per cent turnout is required for all strikes, while 40 per cent of all members will need to back a strike affecting essential public services. The TUC’s Frances O’Grady has already hit back, arguing the new rules will make ‘legal strikes close to impossible’.
Secondly, Theresa May and David Cameron are promising to tackle our ‘passively tolerant society’. In the Queen’s Speech, due on May 27, the Tories will introduce a new counter extremism bill that will include tougher immigration rules, protect ‘British values’ and allow for banning orders for hate groups in public places. The definition of what is ‘hate groups’ remains unclear — it is somewhere short of ‘terrorist’ but it is one that will be undoubtedly challenged.
On the Today programme this morning, the Home Secretary said the legislation will protect the ‘key values that undermine our society that are being undermined by extremists’:
‘‘There are many people listening to this programme who think we haven’t been positive enough about prompting values in the past … we are trying to deal with those situations, those in our society, who are actively operating and promoting extremism.’
These proposals are an example of what we’ll be seeing plenty more of in the next few weeks: bills blocked by the Liberal Democrats. The line between freedom of speech and national security is constantly challenged (and righty so) but the Lib Dems in government were keen to ensure it wasn’t crossed at any cost. Now the Tories rule the roost, May can push ahead with this bill — national security is one thing Conservatives are generally united on.
The first 100 days of this government were always going to be a legislative blitz. The Tories’ efforts to introduce legalisation are helped by the dilapidated state of the other parties: Labour is still trying to decide how to elect a new leader, the Liberal Democrats have fallen out of the picture while Ukip’s internal warfare rages on. Instead of squabbling, the Tories are ‘getting on with running the country’ as they might put it. These halcyon days will not last but Conservatives are relishing them.