To a very poor 14-year old Asian immigrant, Harold Wilson with his “White heat of the technological revolution” modernism was far more appealing than the old patrician Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Unsurprisingly I grew up supporting the Labour Party, with a detour into Trotskyism while at university, and I was gutted when Jim Callaghan lost in 1979.
My first proper (i.e. ignoring the Socialist Labour League, which I think I did join at university) party membership was the old Liberal Party, for a couple of years. However, in 1983 I resigned from the Liberal Party, joined the Conservative Party, and have been a Conservative ever since.
What made me change, and why have I stayed?
I joined the Conservative Party because I saw Margaret Thatcher and her colleagues changing Britain for the better. I have always seen the Conservative Party as the party for positive change; I am a Conservative, not a conservative!
My single most important reason for being a Conservative is that our party understands human nature, and works with it rather than against it. Conservatives understand aspiration, and regard people who succeed as commendable, and not as “traitors to their class.” Furthermore, we understand that you cannot have a successful society without having successful individuals; when you create wealth for yourself and your family you are also making society as a whole richer and thereby helping everyone.
Free market capitalism is why we have the living standards of 2015 and not the living standards of 1615. The Conservative Party is the only political party that really understands capitalism and believes that it works; in comparison Labour sees market failure everywhere it looks, and believes that the state needs to control almost everything. I suspect that many in Labour still consider the abandonment of the old Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution to be a monumental mistake!
Our party has shown its mettle by rolling back the failed nationalisations of the past, and adding a new word to the English language, “Privatisation”, for a policy that started here and has been copied all around the world.
Furthermore, too many people in the other political parties give me the impression that they believe that if someone succeeds, for example by making lots of money, they must have done so by taking it away from other people, making other people poorer. Similarly, they regularly denounce elite institutions, as if the high quality of universities such as Cambridge and Oxford was taking something away from other universities rather than enhancing our country as a whole.
Our party also understands the importance of marriage and the family as the bedrock of society. Changing the trends that have led to the breakdown of so many families is hard, but philosophically our Party does have a vision of where it wants to go. Provided we can stay in power; I believe we will succeed in changing the structure of society to a similar degree to the change in the economy that we have achieved if you compare the late 1970’s with 2015. Iain Duncan Smith, one of my heroes, is passionate about the importance of providing a way out of the welfare trap for families, and I believe he will achieve it.
While one can no longer say that the Anglican Church is the Conservative Party at prayer, I do believe that the Party understands the importance of religion in the lives of individuals, and the importance of religion to society, in a way that the other political parties do not.
Most importantly, when it comes to equality, the Conservative Party sees people as individuals who should succeed on their own merits, rather than as members of categories such as Asian, or Afro-Caribbean, who should be dealt with only as members of those groups, regardless of their wishes as individuals.
Looking at myself, when I joined the Conservative Party in 1983, it still included in its ranks a meaningful number of people that I could only honestly describe as racists. That did not deter me, since the best way of changing the attitude of such people was for more people like me to join the Party. Over time, most of them have either died or lost interest in the Party. Today the Conservative Party can genuinely describe itself as the party for everyone, regardless of race or religion.
From the day I joined the Party until today, there has never been a single moment when I agreed with all Party policies. It will never happen unless by some miracle I am given sole power to determine Party policy! What matters is that I agree far more with Conservative Party policies than I do with the policies of any other political party
Mohammed Amin is Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. He is writing in a personal capacity. Many of Amin’s writings and media appearances can be found at www.mohammedamin.com Follow Amin on Twitter @mohammed_amin
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty