Tom McLaren: Why I am a Conservative

Why am I a Conservative? Good question. If you know my background, then you’d think there’s no good reason. Not because of any desperate social(ist) situation, although I have the “raised in East London” back story, in general my family had educated their way out of their working class roots by the time I was old enough to realise.

And there’s no history of strong political allegiance in my family – my grandparents were a mixed bunch and my parents probably vote Green on an (admittedly misplaced) ethical basis. I only found out after I was elected as a local councillor that my grandmother used to be active in her local Conservative Association, but those were different times, and I never had any particular ideology forced down my throat.

In fact, if I was exposed to any doctrine at all when I was a child, it was to work hard, think for myself and make my own decisions.

My journey to political identity then was one I came to personally, on my terms. It was a case of aligning my personal and political life; not an assessment of who had what on offer, but who best reflected my core beliefs.

I started with big issues.  Did I want people telling me how I should live my life, or be free to make up my own mind? Did I believe in personal responsibility or living off the hard work of others? Should the state be there to support the really needy, or should we all expect a handout?

I’ve worked since I was young, from a paper round to the breakfast shift at McDonalds, and I paid my own way through University. I’m too proud to accept charity, true working class roots, and what I’ve achieved in life has come from my own hard work – with a good slice of luck thrown in.

Making my own way in the world has given me a strong belief in a social contract, between hard working individuals and a supportive state. It has also shown me how much I value being free to make my own decisions and take full responsibility for my actions. I demand the right to be treated as an adult.

Born in the 70s, I’m a child of the 80s, and I have seen first-hand the benefits of the economic and social reforms that the Conservative party brought about. I know that without the reforming ambition of the governing party, opportunities for me and my family would have been much more restricted. You only have to look at how we have recovered from the financial crisis to see the truth of that.

I want to ensure that others have the same kind of opportunities I had, and I know that safeguarding these opportunities means striking a balance, a balance that speaks to me.

It’s a balance between respect for where we have come from, and the change and self-improvement that, as a nation, we have to embrace. A balance between freedom for companies to innovate and individuals to live their lives as they see fit, and the necessary protection and support of those who need it most.

Conservatism has delivered that balance before, and offers the only viable option to deliver it now. Conservatism speaks to me on a personal level, as much as it speaks to me as a working professional.

So, why am I a Conservative? I guess because, deep down, it’s who I am.


Tom McLaren is a Conservative Councillor for Church End Ward and a Director in Structured Finance Credit Risk for a German bank. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_mclaren74

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.

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