I’m from Liverpool. And not one of the nicer parts either. I grew up in Wavertree, the child of a nurse and a second generation Polish immigrant.
If you believe there is such a thing as a ‘typical Tory’, then I’m not it.
Growing up things weren’t exactly gentrified. In my area there was a serious lack of community cohesion. West Indians, Somalis and Asians rubbed along uneasily with each other and with everyone else. It made for a tense atmosphere. At one stage mum got really ill, dad lost his job and we struggled to put food on the table, long before there were food banks or a Tory government to blame.
In such a set of circumstances you might think I was primed for socialism. After all, Liverpool votes Labour on an industrial scale these days. Every other voice in my area would have blamed markets and Maggie for our circumstances. But I didn’t see that. I saw the people from the Church who helped, I saw my dad go and do a law degree and go and end up working for the Jobcentre.
I saw what people can do when they put their mind to it, voluntarily.
The experience of seeing my dad change our fortunes, assisted by the people around us who flocked to our aid, are probably the roots of my Conservatism. But what really settled it for me was visiting an elderly couple every night as a teenager.
The husband had been in the RAF and the wife had fled Poland during the war and been brought to the UK. They would explain in great detail what they had been through politically and how they lived through socialist militant rule in Liverpool, fearing that they would have to experience the kind of situation she had fled as a child.
I asked another Tory from my part of the world recently how he reconciled being Scouse and Tory. He replied; ‘I grew up in Liverpool, which socialism destroyed, why would I be anything else?’
Which isn’t to say I don’t listen to left-wing opinions and take them on board. As our candidate in Bootle earlier this year, I couldn’t help but.
The way I see it, making people depend on the state only serves to make them accept where they are. Whereas providing them with the opportunity to change and improve their circumstances gives them self-confidence and self-respect.
Last week at conference I was told that this relatively simple and well-proven belief system made me “Tory Scum”. Yes, I am, and I’m proud of it.
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