After standing for local council, in a general election, elected as Chairman of Conservative Future in Northern Ireland and holding the position of Secretary of the NI area executive and deputy chair political for South Belfast association, all by the age of 24, it is hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t a Conservative or at least before I knew I was.
Growing up in a “mixed marriage”, as it is referred to in Northern Ireland when one parent was Catholic and the other is Protestant, I was lucky enough to not have a strict regime of religious values instilled in me from a young age, a pleasure not experienced by many here. Also from a household that was politically neutral, I can firmly say that my political journey of enlightenment was through my own steering. Not being politically aware and having a friend group which wasn’t either it was the fluke chance that due to my GCSE results I ended up studying politics, sociology and history at A- level.
After learning of political wings and ideologies, I felt much more comfortable in the Conservative camp. Small government, pro-business, job creation etc, seemed pretty obvious. A view that resonated with me was that government would allow the individual to be the fate of their own success or demise, however help was there for those who had no options. This is something I fundamentally believe. Something that is not the case in the “Soviet Republic of Northern Ireland” where your business is everyone’s business and it is DEFIANTLY the Governments business.
How I got into politics was due to the Conservative-UUP link up. Obviously and experiment which in my current position, would argue to be the worst decision we have made, tying ourselves to the dinosaur of NI politics which we are attempting to progress from. However, if it wasn’t for that link up it would be a number of years, if at all, before I became aware of the NI Conservatives activity. Thankfully that link up broke away very quickly and true blues were free to offer change to NI for the better once again.
Although it was a very scenic journey to where I am now, I know for a fact that I have firmly parked my car in the garage of the Libertarian wing of the Conservative party and I am certain this is where I will stay. I also look forward to bringing these values to the stage and broadening the political debate in the upcoming Stormont election which I have recently been selected for.
Ben Manton is the South Belfast candidate for Stormont election and is the Chairman of Northern Ireland Conservative Future. Follow him on Twitter here.
This article is part of our ongoing ‘Why I am a Conservative’ series, in which supporters of CfL talk about their beliefs and values. If you would like to take part please email firstname.lastname@example.org.