In the build-up to the 2005 general election when I was fifteen years old, I borrowed a permanent marker and scribbled the words “If you’re a wanker” under a huge “VOTE CONSERVATIVE” sign that greeted unsuspecting gallivanters to my home counties village. At the time, I viewed the right honourable Michael Howard and his snobbish mob as the privilege protecting, spirit crushing officialdom; irreconcilable with an anti-establishment rebel like myself. But fast forward eleven years, and I am now an active Tory torchbearer.
Due to my youthful indiscretions, it took me a while to come to terms with my present identity. Indeed, I remain reluctant to use the ‘C-word’ when explaining my political leanings to lifelong friends and family. But if truth be told, I needn’t be so bashful, as the Conservatives are and always have been the party of liberty.
Make no mistake, I am a libertarian first and foremost, and I endorse all of its glorious bells and whistles (including property rights once I grew out of defacing billboards). To me, my chosen platform provides the framework to a fair and harmonious society, and as such, its core tenets are worthy of defending. Consequently, I oppose all iron-fisted ideologies, and owing to their mainstream popularity, I hold offence policing, lavish public spending, ‘positive’ discrimination, majority rule in matters of conscience and other centre-left staples in particular contempt.
To their credit, the Tories have always fostered a classical liberal enclave, but it remained hidden from me until a few years ago. Their reputation during my adolescence was one of a party overrun with the seedier side of right-wing politics. They seemed to harbour a medieval sense of morality, and a festering desire to see society degenerate back to a state of serfdom. Their woeful electoral performances at the time suggests I was not alone in my damning analysis.
However, David Cameron eventually dragged his party kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Now, I can’t say I have a great deal in common with our PM and his pro-EU co-conspirators, but his fresh and innovative approach to politics made the wider party less repellent to the next generation of voters. Furthermore, it was under his tenure that I first started paying taxes, and I welcomed the coalition’s decision to raise my personal income allowance.
As a result, I decided to give the much maligned Tories more of a chance, and with equal doses of surprise and horror, I found myself nodding along with the more peripheral party members. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon footage of Daniel Hannan’s barnstorming speech on the ills of socialism when the message really began to hit home. Hannan – reassuringly branded as “nutty” and “eccentric” by his party peers – was a self-styled libertarian like me. He also shared my natural affinity for British culture, and he recognised our rich history as purveyors of freedom and enlightenment.
My traditionalist tinge has always reigned in my more swashbuckling side, and I started to see the continuum between my school of thought and more outright Thatcherites like maverick backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg. Sure, I held contrasting views on gay marriage, drug prohibition and electoral reform, but he was a stinging satirist of the Tory leadership, a passionate proponent of British democracy, and a man of compassion, honesty and principle – virtues I have always held in high regard.
This spurred me on to engage in debates with Tory-leaning friends and colleagues, during which we unearthed lots of common values, and a mutual concern for the rise of contemporary leftism. By now, it was apparent that my spiritual home was among the fringes of the Conservative Party.
Tactically too, it made sense to join the ranks. Cameron’s 2015 election victory triggered the EU referendum, and with our national sovereignty at stake, what better time to rally around the blue flag of freedom? I didn’t have the resources and manpower that the party boasts, and so signing up and fighting for Brexit internally seemed a savvy strategy. Lo and behold, my transmogrification was complete.
Rest assured, I am here for the long run, and after we trounce the Remainians on 23rd June, I want to help build a better Conservative Party. Together, we can steer our ship in a more positive direction, and away from its rudderless descent into a Blairite oblivion.
I want us to stand up to big government bullies from either end of the political spectrum, both in our midst and elsewhere. We need to be the party of justice, equality, inclusive patriotism, aspiration, personal responsibility, and above all, liberty. The world is an uncertain place right now, and it’s up to us to lead the way. That is why I am a Conservative, and a proud one at that.
The Great British Taxpayer is a political blogger
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 blog@con4lib.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty