Michael Gove Says The National Conservatism Conference Is 'Healthy' For Tory Party

But the cabinet minister tells the party it must focus on economics, not culture wars, to win the next election.
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Michael Gove has defended the right-wing populist National Conservative conference as the sign of a “healthy” Tory party.

Speaking at the event in Westminster, the levelling up secretary denied that criticism of government policy at the gathering showed the party “tent” had become “too big”.

But he warned his party that when it came to winning general elections it had to focus on economic issues, not culture wars.

The three-day conference has seen speeches from Conservative MPs and others railing against the existence of – among other things – families that do not have one male and one female parent.

Gove, while a self-described liberal when it comes to social issues such as gay marriage, defended the event.

“I think it’s a sign of a party and a broader movement that is healthy, that you can have debate,” he said.

“One of the arguments that’s sometimes made is that after 13 years in power, the time has come to dispense with the Conservatives because there’s a lack of ideas, there’s a lack of intellectual energy, there’s a sense of exhaustion.

“I completely disagree. I think what we’ve seen at different points is the Conservative Party, as it always has, adapting to changed circumstances.”

But when asked about cultural issues, the veteran cabinet minister said: “When it comes to the boring and vulgar task of wining general elections... the most important thing to do is to concentrate on the right economic policies.”

He added that the Conservative movement “must never retreat into nostalgia”.

Gove added: “I think the Conservatives will win the next election.”

One Tory MP speaking at the event criticised “woke” teaching for “destroying our children’s souls”, while another backbencher warned about the rise of “paganism”.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, was widely seen to have used her keynote speech to the conference as a leadership pitch.

In his speech to the event’s evening reception, author Douglas Murray said just because the Nazis had “mucked up” it should not mean other countries were prevented from feeling “pride”.

The conference, organised by the US-based Edmund Burke Foundation, had organised events across Europe and the US to promote the idea of national conservatism.


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