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MP Sir John Hayes to join Suella Braverman, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, JD Vance, Lord David Frost, Toby Young and Darren Grimes at National Conservatism event NatCon UK

’Family and community values’ are to be highlighted by MP Sir John Hayes at an upcoming conference which aims to promote national identity.

The National Conservatism Conference says its mission is to bring together people who ‘understand that the past and future of conservatism are inextricably tied to the idea of the nation, to the principle of national independence, and to the revival of the unique national traditions’.

MPs Suella Braverman, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, US Senator JD Vance, Lord David Frost - Boris Johnson’s chief EU negotiator - Vote Leave founder Lord Daniel Hannan, columnist Toby Young and GB News presenter Darren Grimes are also among the speakers at the three-day NatCon UK, held in London from May 15-17.

Sir John Hayes
Sir John Hayes

The event has brought a mixed reaction with the Guardian labelling it a ‘divisive, far-right movement’ and the Telegraph running an opinion piece by Lord Frost and Mr Rees-Mogg entitled ‘Time Britain returned to its traditional roots’.

Sir John, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, falls firmly in the latter camp, and hopes to use the platform to extol the importance of the family structure.

“The Conservative Party is the party of public, community and nation and it’s very important we recognise the ties that bind us are important to our wellbeing and common good,” he told this paper.

“I think over my lifetime we’ve seen quite a lot of social fragmentation and that’s partly because of family breakdown and partly because of weakening community ties.

“We have strong community and family ties in South Holland and the Depings and we do have that sense of local belonging here. But in a lot of areas of Britain that's less true. Particularly urban Britain.

“It leads to isolation, loneliness and it’s weakening the common good and our sense of obligation and reponsibilities to our neighbours and neighbourhoods.”

For Sir John, it is important to encourage the country to shun what he sees as a 15-minutes-of-fame approach to society, fuelled by social media, and return to traditional values.

“I think the values that were widely held as I was a child growing up, some of those have been eroded, partly by self interest and partly by trivialising achievement,” he added.

“There can be lots of here-today-and-gone-tomorrow celebrities, not people who have done notable things. That’s changed in my lifetime. Fame has become more trivial.

“I think selfish culture and social media has caused that. Social media can expose an individual to all kinds of brutalities with cyber bullying and children having to put up with new pressures, but it’s also undermining the values of my generation.

“The internet age has elevated unimportant things and I think that’s very socially destructive.”

Some observers have argued the event – promoted by the Edmund Burke Foundation, a public affairs institute which aims to promote national conservatism in the west – has the feel of a US-style political rally.

However, Sir John has welcomed this platform as a way to put his message across.

He said: “I do think there is a need for the exposition and evangelism as a kind of communitarian who recognises the need for community and family, and there is a time to have that conversation against the backdrop of growing militancy and the brutalising affect of social media; to have a conversation about values that underpin the good life and common good.”

NatCon UK’s website describes its mission as: “The best path forward for a democratic world confronted by a rising China abroad and a powerful new Marxism at home. We see the rich tradition of national conservative thought as an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to political theories grounded in race.”

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