Greg O’Kane: Why I am a Conservative


Why am I a Conservative? I have been asked this question a lot. For many people it seems to be an odd ideology for such a young person to believe in. From where does my conviction stem?

My interest in politics started when I was around 16. It was then that I began to question how my country operated. Where do taxes go? Are certain things being overfunded and others funded too little?

The more I researched the more I came to realise that my definition of fairness differed greatly to that of ‘the Left’.

There was one area which spurred my interest in particular; welfare. It appeared to me that it was possible in the UK, more than in most other developed countries, to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle on benefits. To me it is unfair for someone to work hard and pay tax to fund the lifestyle of another who chooses not to work at all. But this is totally acceptable to some. Conservatism facilitates a compassionate safety net for those who need it but expects those who can work to fund such a safety net to do so. This is both ethical and sustainable and incentivises personal responsibility; words which cannot be attributed to the colossal expansion of the welfare state which occurred under New Labour.

The more I considered issues of importance in my life the more I realised that a Conservative approach is the most logical. Take private business as an example. To me profit is not a dirty word, but a result of a combination of hard work and risk, which can then be used to expand business operations thereby employing more people, who will in turn pay more in tax and so better fund our public services. Therefore I support an ideology which allows private business to thrive.

In education I believe that children should be nurtured and supported to achieve their best. This is why I support selective education, which allows those less academically able to receive the time and support they deserve whilst affording an optimum environment for more academic children to thrive. Conservatism allows this to occur, and doesn’t conform to the ‘prizes for all’ mentality which has beset our education system in recent decades.

For me it is simple; centre-right, Conservative ideas are the fairest and most logical. They ensure that the most needy in society are supported but not trapped and that those who wish to work hard can get on in life can be successful, independent of which social class they come from. In politics there is no right and left, there is only right and wrong.

Greg was raised in Derry City, and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. While there he was chairman of the local Conservative Future branch. He strongly supports the Conservative Party as an institution, and their growth in Northern Ireland.

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty