I still remember the ‘horror’ I felt when I realised I was a Conservative!
As a teenager, I’d always presumed that I was a Labour supporter. I lived above my parents’ pub and my father and grandfather had both been trade unionists. In my home, “Tory” was a swear word!
As a child, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and despite being a ‘lowly’ factory worker at the time, received world-class treatment and care at the Royal Marsden Hospital which kept him alive for nearly 40 more years. When my parents were out of work for nearly three years I received a fantastic state education, with loans and grants to support me through college and allow me to become the first member of my family to go to university.
So when I began to study politics and look at the different philosophies of the political parties, I was surprised to find that the Conservative Party was the closest to my own beliefs. I couldn’t shake the view that, despite the best intentions of many who work within the Public Sector, government institutions are overly political and badly managed, providing poor services to the people they are supposed to help the most, and giving a poor return on investment for the tax payers forced to fund them. To quote Milton Friedman: “If the Government ran the Sahara desert, in three years they’d be out of sand!
The things that drew me to the Conservative Party (Thatcherism in particular) were as follows:
Whilst the state can liberate people through education and the provision of healthcare, the safety net all too often becomes a trap. It’s in danger of being a cliché but I was struck by the liberating effect that the ‘right to buy’ programme had on my immediate community.
It is through the opportunity to work and earn money that people have the greatest chance of social mobility, not through state handouts.
The state may have a role to protect the innocent and vulnerable but, outside of this, we each carry the responsibility for our own lives.
Family, not the state, is the centre of our society. Government should seek to support families, not replace them.
Liberty should be about protecting people from crime, not protecting those who commit crime.
In the 20 years since I became a member of the Conservative party I’ve become a father of three and enjoyed a successful and lucrative career. My views on how to build the Britain we want have modified many times, but my core Conservative principles remain firmly the same.