By Chris Doyle
I begin this article by taking you back over 3 years ago. It is a rather sunny Friday morning, I am watching the morning election coverage of the 2015 general election in the common room of my sixth form. The pundits and experts are pulling apart the reasons why the Tories gained such a majority, and like many of my fellow students I am fed up and contemplating why so many chose to vote for a party which had introduced austerity and in our view did not represent our outlook on society. Fast forward to today, and I am in a similarly contemplative mood. Looking out across my computer at the University library, across to the textbooks about that very election, pondering what that 16 year old New Labour supporter, would think of himself now writing this as an active centre-right Tory activist. But this is the very reason why I chose to study and pursue a career in politics, it is an ever changing landscape. Where on a daily basis it is impossible to not have our political views and principles challenged on an almost daily basis.
I will begin telling you the very reasons why I did the exact opposite to the vast majority of my fellow students and chose to leave Corbyn’s Labour party. I describe myself as a morally conscious politician, I am always challenging whether what I believe and whether the party I am a member of benefits the most vulnerable of those in society. For the guiding principle of my political beliefs, is that it is impossible to have a successful government and economic system if it ignores those who are most in need of it’s help and support. For many of those Labour party supporters and activists it may seem a rather easy decision to join the Labour party and a particularly misguided decision to move to the centre right. But it is because of this guiding principle, that once Ed Miliband resigned I could no longer see myself on the centre left. I could not stand represent a party which was more focused on battling inner ideologies and obsessed with personal power. For this reason, I believed then, and even more so now, that to do what I most believe in and to make the largest possible contribution to my society was to join the centre right and the Tories. Since I made the decision to join the Tories, I have dedicated myself to social justice and helping everyday people. I have stood in a by election in Leicester, promoting great initiatives such as a metro in the city centre and rejuvenation of the city centre. Neither of which I could have done if I had blindly followed Corbyn and the Labour party.
I remember watching the first PMQ’s since Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader and I remember sitting there really bewildered by the ideological split on the Labour benches. For the first time I had fully comprehended the significant differences many Labour members had with each other. Similarly to today, you could see this very visual separation of the Labour benches, with Corbyn’s left wing socialists, such McDonnell and Abbott occupying the front benches. Where as, you had the rather embarrassing site of former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper now occupying the back benches, pushed out by the sudden emerging support for Corbyn’s socialist ideologies, away from any real power within the party. I feel greatly for those of New Labour who publically were pushed away from the control and leadership of Labour. As an activist, I also found myself with little future in the party I had for so long been a very vocal supporter of. As someone who could not see himself represented by a far left ideology and did not agree with nationalisation and believe a capitalism system with free markets was the most effective way to work within.
I wish to finish this piece, by telling you the most common question I get, ‘why are you a Tory if you’re a student?’ That being if it has not already been assumed I must be a Labour supporter. One of the primary reasons I am glad I am no longer a Labour supporter is that question precisely. One quite frustrating element of the far left is their focus on identity politics and a compulsive need to put everyone in a political box to fit with their current situation. This is not a broad assumption amongst all those who still consider themselves Labour supporters, but a new generation, supported by the current leadership, who ignores the concept of governance over identity. For this reason, as I left the Labour party, I felt rather isolated and no longer included in this party I had worked so hard supporting for much of my teenage years. As a white, middle class, male, I felt ostracized and that my ideas no longer mattered. And it is again for this reason why I am so glad I decided to join the Conservative party. My first encounter when I came to University with a Tory was with the then deputy Chairman of Leicester Conservatives. Within minutes of first meeting he immediately started asking me asking me questions such as, ‘what do you think of Theresa May?’ and how do you view the Brexit referendum?’ At this point, it was no exaggeration that I felt almost relieved, my ideas mattered again. My ability to build a career within politics was going to be determined by my ideas and my ability not what I seemed to be on the surface. This is the reason why I am proud to call myself a Conservative and relieved to have jumped ship on Labour when I did.