‘It’s a strange way to rebel’, my cousin said, I guess she’s right. I am from Newcastle, and my whole family are Labour loyalists, and that won’t change now that Jeremy Corbyn is leader. In-fact, they are all pretty pleased about it. My grandad was a coal miner, and my uncle hands out The Morning Star in the street and chairs meetings of the Socialist Worker’s Party. He recently organised a mass signing up to the Labour Party to influence the leadership election. My parents are both Labour voters, though not as outwardly political as much as my family.
My cousin, Natalie, also Labour, is puzzled. Despite my family, my home city, my background, and all my childhood influences… I am a Conservative. A strange way to rebel, yes indeed. How did this happen? Why am I a Conservative?
Unsurprisingly, due to the members of my family who are active in politics I began to take an interest from an early age. I’ve been out to meetings with my uncle, I’ve helped him hand out the papers and I’ve listened – and tried to understand – the conversations he has with his fellow socialists. I’ve heard what they talk about, what they think, what they believe and what kind of country and world they want to build. As I approached my 16th birthday I began to think for myself a bit more, and as I felt myself sinking naturally into the socialist mould, something just didn’t feel right.
I tried to learn more about recent political history. It had always been put to me that the two political sides were a stark contrast between good and evil. Yet in 13 years of Labour we were involved in two wars that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands of British citizens were left to rot on welfare as if that was inherently a good thing. The economy was mismanaged and we were unable to cope when the global economy tanked. This has led directly to unemployment and misery. The Coalition government did its best to resolve this. It seemed silly to me to say that one side – the side that made all those mistakes – were good, and the other, were evil.
I spoke to my parents, my uncle and others in my family about this and they said, unconvincingly, that New Labour were just Tories in disguise and not a proper Labour Party. But when I learned about the Labour Party of the 80’s and 70’s I didn’t see anything I could believe in. Winter of discontent, IMF bail outs, rubbish in the streets, that isn’t what I want from a political party.
I was maturing during the time of the Coalition government. While so many members of my family sneered and insisted they were evil, I just saw a stable government doing its best to steer the country right. I discussed these things in private with my mother (who is not actually that interested in politics) and she said that I was just much more “pragmatic” than most of the politically minded members of the family. She told me I should follow my own instincts and that she was proud of me for thinking of myself.
I thought about who I would vote for in 2015 if I was eligible, the Liberal Democrats of the Conservative Party. I didn’t like the way the Lib Dems were so proud of being a roadblock to so many policies. The kind of policies which were tough but necessary.
It seemed to me that it was important for a government to look at things rationally, even coldly, to ensure the correct decision is made, to ensure we look to balance the books and think about the best thing for the long term.
Left wing people want to build a utopia and teach the world to sing, but they make a mess by reaching for unobtainable things. I know this because I’ve spent years hearing socialists talk about reshaping, not just society, but the world, and all the people in it. As I matured it seemed to be religious zealotry. Socialists are beyond reaching.
I’ve seen and head the bitterness, anger, resentment and pure hate of the socialists. Not just for their political opponents, but all those innocent, normal people who don’t think like them. I don’t want to be full of this hate, it isn’t me, and it doesn’t achieve anything.
This year, at the age 0f 17, I attended the Conservative Party conference. I got shouted at by people behind barricades. I recognised their contorted faces well. At the conference, I felt right, I felt like I was amongst my people. The people behind the police line were not my people, that was what I have left behind.
So now, I’ve “come out” as a Tory. My parents have accepted it, and even said it’s good that I’m taking an interest. My socialist uncle – who I used to spend so much time with – doesn’t even speak to me now.
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