Ever since I was first entitled to make my mark on the ballot paper I've always been a floating voter. I first voted in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher won and have voted at every election - General and local - ever since. However, I have not voted for any particular party since 1997. At local elections I tend to vote for an Independent - mainly because I know him personally, but also because he doesn't stand for any of the mainstream parties.
I expect a lot of people who read this blog will instantly jump to the conclusion that I'm a true blue, died in the wool Tory voter, but here's a shocker for you - I never ever voted for Thatcher and only ever voted Conservative twice. Like a lot of people, my political views developed over time. When I was younger I leaned ideologically to the left, but this was at a time when the vast majority of Labour supporters were still socially conservative.
I come from a very working class background and I've mentioned before how, as a kid and into my early teenage years, my family's social life tended to revolve around working men's clubs and family nights at the Royal British Legion. As you would expect, the vast majority of adults I came into contact with were staunch Labour supporters and fiercely proud of their working class status - so it was hardly surprising that some of that would rub off on me.
However, they were also all very socially conservative.
I know that in their factories and workplaces these men would eff and blind as much as anyone, but swearing at these functions where wives and children were present was considered well out of order. Even the word "bloody" would be met by a sharp retort and withering look from someone and the perpetrator of the offence would sheepishly apologise.
Those responsible for keeping order would invariably be the wives. The post modern view (largely put forward by middle class socialists whose personal experiences would have been entirely different) that women were oppressed by their men during those times, condemned to a life of drudgery chained to the kitchen sink is not supported by what I witnessed in those clubs and in the homes of those proud men and women. On the contrary, women were not only respected but they were the ones who carried the authority in most working class households. It was the wives who managed the finances and the home - the husbands did what they were told.
It was true enough that the husbands rarely did certain household chores - this was a time when the men mostly worked and the women mostly didn't, so most household chores were done while the husband was at work - but that didn't get them out of doing the washing up! The husbands worked all week, got their wage packet on the Friday, handed it to the missus who would then give the husband his allowance. That was the way it was done.
And everyone who had kids was married. That was the belief. You get married and have kids, you stayed married for life. It wasn't a question of being "trapped" in a relationship - this was actually the belief of these people - men and women. Marriage was a life long commitment and so were children. I still know many of those couples who were friends of my mum and dad back in those days in the sixties and seventies and not a single one has divorced. Not one.
The reason for this was that there was a shared morality which, even though not everyone was a church going, God fearing believer, nevertheless they all agreed that Christian morality was the basis for living a good life.
So I grew up with people who were socially and morally conservative and it was only natural that I would be so too. Where we differ is that I never knew the old Labour party that was also socially conservative. I've only ever known the "progressive" party that seeks to change all that is traditional and successful in this nation for untried and dubious "radical" solutions to non-existent problems and I know that, even though this is at odds with the way the core old Labour voters think, they will still only ever vote for that party.
I won't. I will only ever vote for a party that puts the interests of this nation and its people above all other interests. Like the people I grew up with I am proud of this nation, its culture, its traditions and its heritage and I do not want to see it destroyed in pursuit of some ideological Utopian dream that is never ever going to be achieved.
I believe that the nation is the greatest expression of a peoples collective will and determination - and that no nation has ever achieved a greater expression of that collective will and determination than Great Britain. We were, once, the model that other nations aspired to - not for our empire or military might - simply because of our unequalled rights and freedoms. Rights and freedoms which gave us a social cohesion and ease which no other nation before or since has ever achieved.
And this is why I am politically conservative as well as socially conservative. I can not for the life of me understand why we chose to abandon the notions and beliefs that made us the most successful nation ever to grace this earth. I understand why some people wanted to - they hated Britain - but I can not understand why we allowed them to do it.
As a conservative I believe that progress - real sustainable progress - is a gradual process made by small adjustments to a tried and tested model that slowly refines and improves the outcome. So, to me, the idea that you should take whole aspects of a working society, discard them and replace them with something entirely different and completely unproven is ridiculous - but that is what progressives do. That is what "radical" means.
One of the most successful inventions of the 20th century was the motor car. There is no doubt that the modern motor car is a major improvement on those from 80 or even 30 years ago - but the basic concept remains unchanged. A rectangular metal shell with a wheel at each corner and an internal combustion engine to drive the vehicle forward. The cars we drive today are a result of gradual development of that concept. There have been no "radical" changes to the motor car in one hundred years. They have got better and better as a result of small changes and improvements made over time to a successful idea.
Britain was much like the motor car - except that it has been around longer. The idea worked and was improved upon through gradual changes that slowly developed over time. Then along came "progressive liberalism" and it's radical ideas. This was akin to taking the motor car, abolishing the original concept and starting from square one again. Many people have tried to do this, but guess what - all their ideas ended up failing and the motor car remains.
A lot of people latch onto the word "progressive" in progressive liberalism and think it must be a positive thing. Progress is good, right? So people, thinking that progress is good, think it must be good to be a progressive.
But this is lazy thinking. Progress does not mean just going forward - it means going forward towards a goal - an objective. If that objective is not one that is beneficial then progress is a very very bad thing. A cancer can "progress" just as well as a recovering patient can make progress. The difference is that for one it means death, for the other it means life - both are progress, the only difference is the objective.
Progressive liberalism has objectives. Like a lot of ideologies - most even - those objectives are, to it's believers, positive ones. A lot of bad things happen with the best intentions and the objectives of progressive liberalism, though well intentioned, are already having some very bad outcomes. All of the ills of British society are the direct or indirect result of progressive liberalism. Some of them were planned outcomes - like the collapse of Christian morality - some were not planned but happened as a result of that plan. For instance, the rise in crime and disorder as a result of the collapse of Christian morality.
I am socially conservative thanks to my working class upbringing, I am morally conservative thanks to my Christian beliefs and I am politically conservative thanks to my pride in my nation and heritage.
I'm a working class Christian who is proud of Britain.
That's why I am a conservative and proud of it.