People laughed at me when I said that I had joined the Conservative Workers Union. People said that you couldn’t be a Conservative if you were ‘Working Class’. “But Sir Jon Major was a Working Class Conservative and we made him Prime Minister”, I said.
During the 2015 election, I knocked on a door; an elderly gentleman answered and he said, “ I genuinely do not know who to vote for” then he asked: “Have you got a ‘proper job’?”; quite taken a back by this question, I replied; “Yes sir; in fact all three of your Conservative Candidates work in logistics, we all work in warehouses.” People on the door step want to know that you relate to them; they want to know that you are a worker and that you will help them to get on in life.
It’s no secret that the “Working Class” have historically been fairly leftward leaning. Many TUC unions are affiliated to the Labour Party and receive a leadership vote as a result. But are Labour loosing touch with their union base? Is there now a battle for the TUC vote? Perhaps not, but at very least Theresa May is certainly giving Mr Corbyn a run for his money on the working class vote. Mrs Thatcher used to say; “There is No Alternative”, and it takes a while to find a real alternative from the left at the moment. The Conservative Party are giving the ‘working man’ more of his own money to spend how he chooses in lower income tax and a higher personal allowance. The national living wage is a higher rate than the traditional ‘minimum wage’ and the shop floor is getting a pay rise.
People will say to me: “Richard, you’re young; you’re working class and you’re from the Midlands, how can you be a Tory?” My response is simple: “for those very reasons!” I was born in 1987; making me literally a child of Thatcher. When I first stood for Council, I was 23. I have total faith in the party that has committed to providing three million new apprenticeships across the country, allowing our future generations to gain skills and qualifications whilst earning money. That party is the Conservative Party. I want to be part of a movement that has a record of lowering unemployment figures, putting more people in to real and lasting jobs than ever before; that movement is the Conservative Party. I want to be part of a movement that is providing enterprise zones such as the “Midlands engine” to promote business startup and job growth in areas outside of metropolitan London. That movement is the Conservative Party.
Around the time of the 2015 election, incidentally the third election in which I stood as a candidate, I had many conversations with my coworkers. I work in a warehouse; I am a Team Coordinator for a major British brand. Everybody at that time was earning above minimum wage and by April 2017 will be earning the National Living Wage. The average operative on the shop floor in May 2015 earned around £15,500 p/a. Thanks to the Conservative Government, two-thirds of that sum would be tax-free. Voters’ priorities have clearly changed; in years gone by, working people have been governed more by sentiment than finance; more by history than future. It is clear to me that people value their principles but value their hard-earned wages more.
I have never made any secret of my opposition to trade unionism. This isn’t down to any disagreement to the idea of a union, after all I was an officer of the University of Derby Students’ Union. That said, I denounced my NUS ties following the 2010 NUS Demo. I am all for giving workers a voice, I merely oppose the ‘forth sector’; giving union Executives six figure salaries is inherently wrong. Also the constant militant threat of strike action that blights our country, rendering schools; hospitals; public transport and public services totally useless is one thing that I find utterly ridiculous and irresponsible.
Our forefathers voted with their heart and conscience and for that, I admire them. But the worker of today recognises that he has a family to support, children to feed and bills to pay. He realises that his hard-earned cash is his and he wants to spend it how he sees fit. Baroness Thatcher had a vision: it’s a mans right to work as is his will; to spend what he earns; to own property and to have the state as his servant, not as his master.
I have seen first hand that firstly, the working man now feels that the Conservative Party will give him more of his hard-earned money to spend how he wishes. But deeper than that the man on the street is listening to the fact that the Conservatives are backing business and more importantly the local industry that has been their livelihood for generations.
In the wake of the Copeland By-election on February 23rd . Industry won out from start to finish. The arrogance of the left shone through; the dirty campaign on the NHS fell through and the candidate and the party who backed local industry in the form of the Sellafield Nuclear plant took a majority of 2000 in a seat that had been Labour held since the 1950s.
In times like this, I head the advice of my good friend and colleague, the father of the Council in my native Erewash, Cllr Robert Parkinson. Robert has been a Conservative Councillor in Breaston since 1973, but each and every election he has walked the parish through from end to end. He always says that there is no such thing as a safe seat.
In simple terms, Labour are becoming the Party of protest where the Conservatives are now the Party of the People. The Conservatives are here to listen and to work with and for the electorate. As Theresa May said in PMQs: “[Jeremy Corbyn] He is leading a Protest while I’m leading a Country”.