I’ve recently grown to realise that I am conservative in many ways. When I was growing up, I was often painted the picture of conservatives that represent an almost bourgeois, middle to upper class snobbery. My local constituency, Stevenage, had also lazily succumbed to a heavy Labour-leaning mentality during the Blair years, further entrenching me in this delusion. However, its reshaping as a swing constituency in 2010 began the path to my changing outlook.
Less than a year later, I was given the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience under the recently elected local Conservative MP, Stephen McPartland. My experience was one of pleasant surprise, not only on the shocking revelation that the conservatives I worked with were normal and compassionate human beings, but through the reality burdened upon me that there are many more closeted conservatives out there among my millennial, generational counterparts.
Yet in complete honesty, I actually still self-identify more as a classic liberal – one that has grown to appreciate the wisdom and teachings of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and Thomas Jefferson. I feel that the classic liberal is definitely a growing breed for people my age – a reaction to years of repressed disillusionment and distaste towards the robotic, political class of our era, which has formed out of a large scale shift to sloppy centrism.
In my own case, my shift to this ideology was shaped alongside my time at university. As an avid U.S. historian, the inspiration came unsurprisingly from a maverick of American breed in former Republican Congressmen Ron Paul. His 2012 presidential run generated an ideological revolution across a nation, helping reignite the so-called flame of liberty on both sides of the Atlantic and prompting me to jump on this movement. Perhaps most apt for me was when he often rhetorically asked that simple question: “What young person doesn’t find freedom exciting?”
But whilst my love for the concept and use of freedom was spurred on from of an energising and positive political journey, my continuous shift towards the conservative principles that embrace it have also grown out of my fear for the United Kingdom’s future. I am not one to get choked up in nationalistic sentiment, but I take pride that I live in a country that has embraced so many universal democratic ideas. It is why I find the European Union referendum the most pressing matter of our time. I see a large number of impressionable millennials stand up for such an outdated, regressive structure, despite bearing witness to the poor treatment of Greece, the rejection of nations’ voices when they dare stand up to this European monolith, the propping up of manufactured leaders, and the plunge of the Euro. The crux of the EU’s message continues to stand for many things I’ve come to deeply oppose too, be that overtaxing, overregulation, deficit financing, and big banks in bed with bloated bureaucracy.
But furthermore, my ideological inspirations on a cultural and free speech level have also played a recent, substantial role in the development of my conservatism. I fear of the slippery slope that is stealthily chipping away at our free speech mandate, and if there is one thing I believe most strongly in conserving, it is this inalienable right. Like any decent human being, I find certain views repulsive or just plain wrong. Yet we must respect the glorious platform that allows us to dissent to our government, whilst also tolerating and debating those whose opinions we oppose. Never has this been more important during a period of social media that underlines how fact-based arguments on the right are often shot down by emotional, bully mob responses from a small section of the Left.
As I have meshed these ideas together over the years, I have come to realise that the Conservative Party, for all its imperfections, does give the best platform for me the present my ideas. It helps that they have some damn fine politicians to lead the way – Daniel Hannan perhaps the beating heart of this group. I feel we are turning a corner, in which disenchanted conservatives from all generations are now taking the opportunity to promote a positive message across all spectrums. I consider conservatives the realists of this world. With that, we must continue be honest with ourselves. This begins with the reality that there is still a £1.6 trillion plus national debt continuing to rise, leaving the message of a self-dependent Britain the most urgent it has even been in our modern era. It is with fellow conservatives in whom I believe will continue to outline a strong message that shapes capitalism, not centralised government or socialism, as the most compassionate economic system for a nation to recover and thrive.
Forgive my paraphrasing, but it was Margaret Thatcher who stressed that the facts of life invariably turn out to be conservative. One simple fact of human life is our innate urge to obtain not only the basic necessities, but to strive for greater material and cultural enrichment. Such ambitions give us cause and purpose. I’ve come to realise that a core set of conservative, free-thinking values are the optimal choice for charting the path to such ideals. They intrinsically encourage independence and self-belief, and can re-energise a defeatist nation. It is why I advocate these conservative values proudly and look forward to more active involvement going forward.
Jak is a financial journalist in London. He is an enthusiast for studying civil liberties in politics and history, particularly where it involves the US Supreme Court. Follow hime on Twitter @Jakthelad23
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty