I decided to leave the Liberal Democrats and join the Conservative Party because the party I joined a year ago, and suffered several ups and downs hand in hand with, seems to have been hollowed out. It has lost quite fundamentally that classical liberalism that first attracted me to politics.
As someone who grew up in a small town in the North East — a town lacking in investment, opportunity and aspiration, but high in unemployment, inequality and Labour Party majorities — I’ve always known I do not personally identify with the left.
I want a political party that seeks to devolve centralised powers to communities and shrink dependence on state handouts. With the sensible taxation and deregulation policies needed to entice businesses and to free investors to comfortably invest in communities and young people, improving the prospects for those left in communities like that in which I grew up.
But time and time again I felt as though the Liberal Democrats, with their social democratic undertones, move further and further away from me personally.
On the question of Europe — how can I advocate removing powers from Westminster whilst advocating, quite willingly, Britain transfer sovereign powers to the several layers of government imposed upon our country?
How can I wish to see a mansion tax and oppose taking an axe to inheritance tax, which coerces those with a family home deemed to be worthy of a ‘mansion’ status and shakes it for any loose change in order to plug the gaps in a completely unsustainable health service which drastically needs reform ?
How can I berate the government as being callous and uncaring for not taking in more refugees at a time when my generation faces a housing crisis, with demand drastically outstripping supply, and at a time when that same government is sending more in international aid to help those in peril than every other state other than the United States of America?
How could I possibly imply that the government policy on energy and climate change is putting our children’s future at risk by refusing to subsidise expensive renewable energy sources, at the cost of the taxpayer? Especially considering the efficiency of solar and wind is 12 and 26 percent respectively. Whilst gas stands at a whopping 42.9 per cent and 22.5 million of British homes still depend on gas central heating.
Better to frack it domestically than source it from, say, Vladimir Putin? It is an energy source which is significantly cleaner than coal.. but that will not suffice for those fond of NIMBYism.
How too can I say that I do not support the welfare reforms necessary to give people hope in themselves and their future? I’ve seen what long term unemployment and welfare dependency does to the aspirations of people and their communities — it eradicates them in a perpetuated cycle of despair.
Were the Liberal Democrats to have adopted that classically liberal tradition of advocating a small state, an unhampered free market and to radically reinvent itself as that reforming movement that it once was, I would not have left.
Moving forward, however, I believe that the Conservative party, whilst not perfect, best represents and most closely aligns with my views. This was a harder decision than it should be, but after thinking this over for months and months, I’m certain it is the right one.
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.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty