Ben Harris: Why I am a Conservative


Unlike many political activists I do not come from an engaged political background. On the contrary, most of my immediate family members only take a passing interest in politics and some are downright scornful of anything remotely related to politics. Not only am I the only active member of a political party in my immediate family, to my knowledge I’m the only member full stop.

Despite this apolitical background, I first took an interest in politics around the time of the 2005 general election when I was just 11 years old. Back then I had little idea of what I was for and only a very basic understanding of government but I knew what I was against: high taxes and the nanny state, both of which were hallmarks of Labour’s 13 years of power and don’t appear to have gone away under the leadership of either Miliband or Corbyn.

I was nearly 4 years old when Labour swept to power in 1997 and almost 17 by the time they finally left and growing up under this government shaped my political views in a number of ways.

By the time I reached my mid-teens I started to think more about what I was for rather than just simply what I was opposed to; a distaste for high taxes and big government naturally led to an advocacy of low taxes and smaller government. Time and time again it has been proven not just in the UK but across the world that too much government can cause a lot of harm despite good intentions.

I joined the Conservative Party when I was 15 because they shared a similar belief in smaller but responsible government. Above all else, the party that I joined championed individualism and I am pleased that that is still the case today after 5 years in government.

Chief among my reasons for being a Conservative is a belief that the government should do what is right rather than what simply looks good, the latter being a staple of left-wing thought. Nowhere is this illustrated better than on the ever controversial subject of welfare.

During their 13 years in government the Labour Party implemented an incredibly reckless and ultimately damaging system whereby welfare became a way of life for many people. For Gordon Brown the answer to every challenge in life was state handouts. This approach was bad not just for the hard-working people who paid the taxes that subsidised this system, but also those on the receiving end.

By encouraging people into a lifetime of welfare dependency, Labour helped to trap them into a vicious cycle. By nature I am a very rational and logical person and this is exactly why I am a Conservative.

While we may not be exactly right about everything all the time (nobody’s perfect), our arguments are more often than not based on reason rather than emotion. That’s not to say emotion is an inherently bad thing of course but when it comes to the big issues of government which could potentially affect the well-being of millions of people it is important that the options are considered objectively and carefully.

I am also a Eurosceptic, primarily because I believe that rather than strengthening our liberty (as some supporters of the EU bizarrely claim) it in fact undermines it. The idea of a common market was a fundamentally good one but what we have now is intrusive, unaccountable and outright harmful not just to the UK but to Europe as a whole.

The Conservatives are not the only party that is sceptical of the EU but crucially it is the only party that is sensible in that scepticism. Labour and the Lib Dems (particularly the latter) dare not even question the EU while on the opposite end UKIP view the EU as the cause of every single problem in existence. I may be anti-EU, but I am not so anti-EU that I will defend Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as Nigel Farage has done for example.

Contrary to the media narrative, I believe we can have a mature and sensible debate within our party in the run-up to the EU referendum and regardless of the result I believe that we will emerge united. The fact that we can respectfully disagree with one another is a trait that is sorely lacking in many of the other parties and just one of many reasons why I am proud to call the Conservatives my political home.

The final reason why I am a Conservative is because I am proud of my country and its history. It wasn’t always the case but certainly since I’ve been interested in politics the Conservatives have been the only party that both embraces patriotism while rejecting nationalism, which is a separate thing entirely.

I don’t doubt the patriotism of the majority of Labour members but sadly the modern Labour Party has showed (less than subtly) that it is ashamed of Britain and scared to show support for it, particularly now under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a man who will happily support terrorism in Gaza or failed socialism in Venezuela but refuse to sing the national anthem.

It is now 6 and a half years since I became a member of the Conservative Party and now more than ever I feel that choice was the right one to make. With the rise of the far-left in the Labour Party and the nationalists in Scotland it is important now more than ever that the Conservatives stand up for free markets, small government and a sensible foreign policy. As long as the Conservatives continue to do that, I will always stand proudly beside them.

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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