Saturday, 8 December 2012

Charlotte Argyle for Conservative Future Deputy Chairman

This Week I interviewed the fabulous Charlotte Argyle who is standing to be the next Conservative Future Deputy Chairman Political and here is how she responded.

1) Why are you a Conservative?

My integral belief in working hard and striving to do the best job I can, so in order to independently build a sustainable future for myself, makes me a Conservative.
The fact that I do believe in a compassionate welfare state for those who truly are not able to look after themselves, makes me a Conservative as well as my belief in the idea that everyone should have the same opportunities presented to them, but that you make your own luck from there.
I strongly believe in personal responsibility and accountability, and I see the Conservative Party as being the only mainstream political organisation to truly value this idea of autonomous striving and aspiration.

2) Why do you want to be Conservative Future Deputy Chairman Political?

I talk of equality in my previous response and a lot of this is what made me choose to put myself forward for this position.
At school, politics was never something heavily on the agenda or something that had active support. Not going to university meant that I unfortunately didn't get involved there and so I got lost in the net.

After a ten year career in sales and consulting, I am now nearly 28 and can see that there are so many others like me who are naturally Conservative but are caught up in their careers or feel that as they did not have a traditional education, they are not part of the same cross section.

I believe it is vital that we ensure a more diverse youth demographic hear our message and to do this there needs to be someone who can reach out to bridge the gap between the City, apprenticeships and university membership. Paul and I can, and will deliver that.

3) Who is your greatest political inspiration and why?

This is obvious for anyone who knows me; Margaret Thatcher. Not because she was the first female prime minister; gender has nothing to do with it, but because like her, I believe in reputation above regulation, particularly in leadership and business roles.

The reason why I am inspired by Margaret Thatcher is that she fought so hard to empower the masses and give a better set of opportunities for all.  She showed a strength of character rarely seen since her term in office, and was able to manage the differing personalities both domestically and globally.  She set the template for what people aspire to in politics today.

4) Who is your greatest non-political inspiration and why?

I simply admire the people I meet every day, who talk to me of their struggles, the people who are just plodding on against adversity and trying to give life a better shot than where they have come from. I volunteer most Christmas days at a homeless shelter, and when I sit and talk to people who have absolutely nothing left or had nothing to start with, and they are so emotionally open and grateful, it makes me stop and think: they are the real bricks of our community.

5) What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?

Strength... The tenacity to succeed and the ability to adapt to do so.

Weakness... I care so much about wanting people to get engaged in society.  When I meet someone or I see something that isn't right or they are troubled, I cannot let it go.

6) Passion or ideology?

You need both most certainly, but it is the passion which sustains the ideology when things get tough.  To get people really engaged they need to see that you are passionately committed and actually 'feel' what you are trying to do.

7) Would you like to be an MP and why?

My passion is business and that’s where I see myself for the next 15-20 years, so I haven’t really considered being an MP and it doesn’t appeal.

I am a fan of technocrats certainly but it is not a route for me at the moment.

8) What three things should the Conservative Party do between now and the election?

The important thing for the Party is to win a majority at the next general election.  Coalition has been a necessary situation to clear up some of the mess we were left, but I am a Conservative through and through.

I believe that to win the next election we need to do three things: nurture the leaders of the future; re-engage the grassroots of the Party; and remind everyone what Conservative values are. 

Through our leadership of Conservative Future Paul and I will support the Party in doing this. 

We plan a mentoring program to find and skill the councillors and MPs of the future.  We also recognise Conservative Future’s vital role as a campaigning tool for the Party, and will ensure our members are supported and recognised as they campaign across the UK.

As always Charlotte has come across as a passionate and inspirational young women who knows who she is and what needs to be done to help Conservative Future support delivering a Conservative majority in 2015. If your looking for a candidate that believes in supporting the next generation of leaders, who can inspire those around her and has a clear plan to deliver results, I would urge you to vote for her as the next Deputy Chairman Political of Conservative Future, truly the best candidate!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fair Competitive But Tough Tax!

This week we have seen in the news several companies highlighted as either paying zero UK tax or a significantly lower tax rates compared to other UK companies. (Apple and Starbucks are two major examples)

At a time when we are clamping down on benefit fraud and refocusing the welfare system to encourage everyone to work and pay their fair share we as a conservative lead government have to ensure big business is not exempt from this approach.

As a party we have been quick to talk about being "all in this together" a phrase and approach I am sure Margaret Thatcher her self would relate to and one I very much support. But the time has come to put this into action. If we are to win the General Election in 2015 we must start to show the public that not only do we not believe in freeloaders at the bottom of the system in terms of benefits etc but that big business will not be given a free ride when it comes to a fair and competitive UK tax system. I fully believe in the concept of relieving the burdens of a high tax system from business to help them grow and support the UK economy but this does not stretch to allowing companies to avoid the system all together not contribute their fair share compared to other UK businesses and in effect gain an unfair advantage within the UK marketplace in terms of overheads.

This is why the time has come to introduce a "UK transaction tax" for all businesses trading in the UK. This would be linked to UK revenue and be specifically offset against corporation tax paid by companies to ensure there is no overall increase in the tax rate paid by business but to ensure no business operating in the UK has an unfair market advantage by finding loopholes within the current tax system. On top of this all penalties for tax evasion should be trebled to help reinforce the message that we all need to pull our weight if we are to get through the tough economic times we face.

Whilst demonstrating to the public that we are not in the pockets of bankers and big business through this approach we also need to ensure we have a tax system that remains competitive and encourages growth and investment in the UK, this is why along side this proposal we should announce the removal of the 45p tax rate. This proposal would help to show the UKs commitment to a fair and competitive system of taxation, along side our new tough approach to ensuring everyone pays their "fair share".

To further support hard working families we should move quickly to link the base rate of tax directly to the minimum wage through a "fair tax mechanism" linking the two rates through a statutory provision. This will help take some of the poorest families out of tax all together in the UK and helping to demonstrate our support for hard work and aspiration.

As part of this review of the UK Tax system we should look to introduce "volunteering tax relief". This would allow every adult resident in the UK to offset up to the equivalent of 5 hours worth of taxable pay a week against volunteering they have participated in within their community. In order for this to work I propose that this is introduced linked to activity such as being a School Governor, NHS Governor, Charity Trustee and other registered positions however extending the scheme to some type of registered activity could also be trialed at a later date. This would help give real value and meaning to the "big society" and again demonstrate the philosophy of reward for hard work and community responsibility and help generate more volunteers to help drive the big society agenda forward, taking more local services back into the hands of local communities.

As conservatives we need to be on the side of hard work, aspiration and fairness and not simply be blinded by academic dogma and political theory. If we don't ensure we stay connected with the public, support,and develop our communities and demonstrate that we are all truly all in this together, then Conservative MPs will be sat on the opposition benches in 2015 and all the principles in the world won't be able to do anything about it!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tony Blair Would Be a Tory Today!

Blairism is about delivering results for communities through pragmatic center politics not worrying what side of the political divide a policy comes from but focusing on the outcomes and results that can be achieved. In 2012 I believe that the party that best represents this approach is the modern Conservative Party.

Tony Blair joined the Labour Party at a point in history where his particular political views and ethical values could not sit along side that of a social conservative and historically old fashioned Conservative Party, that was in much need for reform. Attitudes on sexuality, gender, race and other areas of social policy were completely at odds with his own. As social reformer and leader he needed a political vehicle he felt he could mold and shape to help deliver a fairer Britian, whilst at the same time continuing the economical progress that had been made under Thatcher in terms of the transformation of our economy.

Tony Blair created "New Labour" to lead on social reforms, continue the economical transformation and to pull politics away from its polorised past to one where polices were implemented on the basis of "right and wrong not left and right".

During the Blair years we saw the continuation of Thatchers policy of taking people from the Mines and heavy industry and focusing on the development of a strong service and financial sector recognising the changing nature of our globalised economy and focusing on our economic strengths. We saw the introduction of private investment into our public services showing the benefits of marketisation and competition whilst still guaranteeing the level of coverage and provision, We saw the creation of academies the evolution of grammar schools that before inspire pupils to succeed and deliver world class facilities to enable them to do so and we saw New Labour holding the center ground for over a decade keeping the conservatives out of power by taking the best of conservative policy and implementing it themselves.

However Blair was held back by the left of his party, stopping adequate reforms to welfare and the introduction of universal credit, limiting the role out of academies, fighting the introduction of private investment into any public services and continuing a luddite attitude that it would be better that people were dying in the mines than making money in canary wharf.....

Since Gordon Brown took over as Labour leader, Labour have shown that far from the Blair years resulting in a transformation within the Labour Party from a party of hard left socialism to a party of realism and social action, Blair was merely a detour on route to where the tireless core of the party wish them to go back to a socialist tribal and left wing agenda (albeit an agenda that will drive them into the ground).

The election of Ed Miliband instead of his blairite brother and the booing of Tony Blair at Labour Party Conference in 2011 sealed  the nail in the coffin for many Blairites in Labour and thats why so many have decided to leave and join the new reformed and progressive conservative party myself included.

Today Tony Blair wouldn't have the problems he faced in the past of the Conservative Party's "social attitudes" not matching with his values and perspective on social policy, because we have a very different conservative party to the one he faced in the 1980s.

Modern conservatives are socially liberal and economically conservative we believe in protecting peoples rights to be themselves and supporting aspiration and business success to help grow the economy. These are both values that Tony Blair championed and supports.

Policies in 2012 that can be seen as the conservatives demonstrating this are clear:

  • Expanding his visionary School Academies program  
  • developing his idea of "real" choice in the NHS and making private investment
  • Making NHS Trusts to be more independent and accountable to local communities through the expansion of NHS Foundation Trusts and Clinical Commissioner Groups
  • Introducing universal credit and welfare reforms all mooted by Tony Blair
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Increasing apprenticeships 
  • Increasing financial support for poorest at University Increasing access
  • Leading on Equal Marriage
  • Introduced first transgender action plan
However since the Booing of Tony Blair at conference in 2011 we have seen Labour deliver policy announcements which oppose Blairism on every level:

  • Seperate themselves from "New Labour"
  • Promise to reverse choice and private investment in the NHS Policies Blair introduced
  • Opposed academies being rolled out nationwide (Academies which Tony Blair launched)
  • Provided no viable alternative to increase financial support for those from poorest backgrounds at university
  • Attacked big business and promised high taxes and ethical attack on capitalism
Tony Blair is a member of the Labour Party because he is its most successful leader of all time and has lead his whole career from the parties benches and trying to deliver fundamental reforms to a party clinging on to its socialist past. This is Tony Blair's biggest failure because while he achieved many good things while in office he did not systematically change the party he lead and when he left he took the vison drive and realism that New Labour brought to the table and we were all left with the stale Labour Party we see today.

If Tony Blair was a young politico coming into politics today looking for a party to shape, mold, steer and lead based on his values and aspirations of success, fairness, support for business and a liberal social approach there is only one party that would be the obvious choice and that is the conservatives. No longer would there be any barriers that would stop him from viewing the party as a viable political vehicle for his goals, no longer would Labour seem closer to him and the center ground which he strives for in fact the anti business, anti choice and anti forward thinking from Ed milibands "next" Labour would leave any good blairite (Tony Blair included) feeling rather cold and rather BLUE.

There has been a seismic shift of the political landscape over the last few years and one thing is now very clear Conservatives now hold the center ground in UK politics and Blue Blairism is here and here to stay.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Tales of Love and Hate - Adoption, Abuse and Disablity

Tales of love and hate

Relatively little is known about the experience of disabled children who have been fostered and adopted. But in an investigation for Disability Now Annie Makoff discovers a mixed bag of experiences from the abusive and Dickensian to stories of love and liberation

The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) estimate that as of March 2011, 65,520 children were under the care of the local authorities, and of these, 56 per cent were boys and 41 per cent were girls.

Yet when it comes to disabled children, we have no such statistics. At best, the Fostering Network estimate that around one quarter of looked-after children have a disability or multiple disabilities.

Twenty-six-year-old Tara Hewitt who has a hearing impairment was one of these children.

Deaf in one ear, profoundly dyslexic and diagnosed six years ago with gender dysphoria when she was a young adult transitioning, Tara never knew her birth parents: she was adopted at birth.

Her adoptive parents constantly told her there was “nothing wrong” with her hearing, even though she saw a speech therapist for a short time and to adapt, Tara learnt to lip read.

 But Tara could not adapt to the feeling of being the wrong sex. From an early age she knew she was “different” and never felt comfortable conforming to the male stereotype.

Her internal struggles with her gender identity and her disability were against a background of what Tara describes as a “messed up family”.

“I had an abusive childhood,” she says. “My adoptive parents divorced when I was nine so I went to live with my adoptive dad and his new wife. All I had in my bedroom was a bed and a wardrobe. I wasn’t allowed a duvet. I had to eat my meals in the kitchen but other than that I wasn’t allowed in the house unless I stripped down to my underwear. My clothes were all chosen for me, too. I wasn’t allowed friends round and I had to spend most of my time in the garage.”

Despite the various professionals involved in Tara’s care, including her child psychologist and her educational welfare officer, no one picked up on what was going on at home.

“I was too young to see a child psychologist on my own for some reason,” Tara recalls, “so my adoptive dad used to sit in with me. I couldn’t tell my psychologist what was really going on and what was going on specifically with my dad, because he was always there.”

Even when neighbours complained after Tara and her younger sister were often left to fend for themselves in the garage whilst their parents went out for the day, nothing was done.

“Because we were a middle-class family in a semi-detached house in Cumbria, social services just stopped investigating the complaints,” Tara says.

Unlike most children brought up in an abusive environment and all but ignored by social services, Tara responded instead by throwing herself into her studies. She worked her way up academically even though every year her father’s new job took them to a different area of the country and she attended five different secondary schools.

For Tara, doing well at school was her only way of escape. She did so well that teachers had to give her extra work to do because she’d worked her way through all the textbooks. After getting GCSEs she taught herself four A-levels from home and gained good enough grades to study law at university.

Throughout it all, it was Tara’s adoptive grandparents who were there for her, even though they turned a blind eye to the abuse. They took her on holiday and spoilt her more than the other grandchildren.

“I know they loved me completely,” she says. “But my grandad who passed away last year, told me once that if all the grandchildren were in danger and he could only save one, he’d save one of the other grandchildren because they were blood related and I wasn’t. It hurt but I understood.”

Tina Drake had an equally difficult experience. But unlike Tara whose disabilities and mental health difficulties seemed to start from birth, Tina believes that her condition – clinical depression and suspected borderline personality disorder – was triggered as a result of the trauma she experienced.

“I was in and out of foster care between nine and 16,” Tina recalls. “My family had alcoholism issues and the social services thought it was best for me to be taken into temporary accommodation. It was never meant to be permanent, they thought if they gave my mum chances to stop drinking she’d listen and I could go back home, but it never worked out like that.”

Tina describes the first two homes she was placed in as “homely, kind places”. Yet at 11 years old she was sent from London to live with a foster carer in Margate, Kent where she was to stay for two and a half years.

“My foster carer was emotionally and psychologically abusive to us,” Tina says. “I was never physically abused, though I witnessed her throttling one girl and burning her hand with hair straighteners. She made our lives a living hell. We were always hungry because she fed us on as little as she could get away with and dressed us in the cheapest of clothes, so I was always bullied at school. She stole money from social services that was meant for us and spent it on herself and told the social services that we were problem children so they’d pay her more.”

Even though Tina ran away four times, social workers failed to pick up on what was happening.

“She had been fostering for so long that I guess the social workers trusted her over us. She was an accomplished liar and she used to sell cannabis and alcohol to anyone who came to the house. She used to offer it to my mum when she visited because she knew she was an alcoholic.”

Graduating recently with a law degree and now awaiting an official diagnosis and treatment for borderline personality disorder, Tina is able to be philosophical about her past.

“Looking back, I’m quite angry that social workers didn’t take more notice of us,” she says. “It was obvious we were being neglected and treated badly. Obviously, any experience in care is going to leave a young person with emotional and psychological issues. It certainly did with me.”

Yet as Jono Lancaster discovered, being placed under the care of a local authority doesn’t necessarily mean a difficult childhood. Born with a congenital facial disfigurement due to Treacher Collins syndrome, Jono was taken into care from birth because his parents couldn’t cope with his disability.

Although he didn’t find out “the brutal truth” until he was a young adult, Jono always knew he was adopted.

“My adoptive mum was only meant to foster me initially,” Jono explains. “She was a single parent on low income so in those days she wasn’t able to adopt me officially. She took me home when I was two weeks old and I never left. Mum was in her 40s then and most people that age just think about relaxing, but she didn’t. She took me on, despite not knowing the extent of my disabilities. Then there was a change in the law and when I was five she adopted me officially. We still celebrate it to this day.”

Jono describes his childhood as a warm, happy place where there were always other foster children about who were well cared for. Yet as he grew older, Jono wanted to find out the truth about his adoption. He wanted to let his birth parents know that he was doing well and he was happy. Yet the truth was more painful than he ever imagined.

“I’d convinced myself that they gave me up for the right reasons – that they wanted me to have a better life,” he explains. “But when I found my adoption papers it said that they were horrified at the sight of me so they discharged themselves from hospital.

“It went on to say that there had been several attempts to send my birth parents pictures of me but they weren’t interested. It was heartbreaking. I was absolutely devastated. I always had low self-esteem issues growing up because of my face and this was the ultimate rejection. If my own parents couldn’t love me, how could I expect a girl to?”

Despite what he had read, Jono was determined to initiate contact with his birth parents in the hope that they had changed. But the only reply he received was a formal letter stating: “We do not wish to be contacted again, all further contact will be ignored.”

Despite this, Jono’s confidence has increased immeasurably. He has been the subject of television documentaries, he’s been a model and he now lives with his girlfriend in a long-term relationship.

“I’m proud to be adopted,” Jono says. “People always stare and laugh at me and at school they’d put two and two together and say I was adopted because I was ugly, but now I love being different. I love standing out. And when I think about my birth parents, I really wish them well. It wasn’t always like that, I used to feel so angry towards them, but now I’m genuinely pleased they created me.”

(I was interviewed by a journalist for this article by Disabled Charity Disability Now and this is a copy from their own website and publication)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Some Tories are Gay Get Over IT

I’m a 26-year-old diversity consultant and a proud Tory women, I also happen to be trans and bisexual.
Last week, I was not shocked to see a Labour activist write an article entitled “Gay Tory an Oxymoron” for The reason I was not shocked was because the author is the type of ignorant Labour member who I came across frequently when I was a member of the Labour Party myself.
During my time as Labour Party national student LGBT officer and vice chair of the shadow climate change minister Luciana Berger’s parliamentary constituency in Liverpool, I experienced a lot of that “holier than thou” attitude from members of the Labour Party when it came to issues of equality and the Conservative Party. I remember hearing time and again “the Tories don’t do equality” and “they are homophobic and transphobic” etc. However, as my life has moved on and I’ve crossed the political floor, becoming a Tory myself my experiences have not lived up to this message.
I suffered endless comments during my time in Labour about being transgender, how people would never vote for a trans women and Labour radical feminists telling me I wasn’t really a women. Everything was about pigeonholing you in a box and defining you by what “group” you came from. I left Labour because my politics as a Blairite are now more at home in David Cameron’s modern Conservatives than they are in Ed Miliband’s old Labour; however long before I moved I had become disillusioned at been defined and view by the letters “LGBT” and not by my experience and skills as a campaigner and politician.
Yet since joining the Conservatives I have not received any transphobic comments or been judged on the basis of my sexuality or gender at all. In fact quite the opposite I have been fully supported to get involved in the party, meet ministers such as Theresa May and others and have even become a local campaign coordinator for local government campaigns.
Now I’m not too ignorant to realise that not everyone I meet may fully understand or agree with my sexuality and social life – however I don’t bring up who I’m sleeping with as a regular topic of conversation for people I have just met. What I have found so positive about being a member of the Conservative Party is that no matter who you are you’re judge on what skills you bring to the party and by your actions not your medical history or your love life.
Labour often condemn the Tories for their voting history and historic views that existed in the past; however we are living in 2012 and have a modern progressive liberal Conservative Party – a very different one to the picture that is so often shaped by left-wing activists and Labour members. All parties have in the past not shared the most positive attitudes when it has come to LGBT rights; it took endless campaigning and dragging of feet to get Labour to deliver on the legislation that they introduced while in office – did it mean that prior to that being gay and in Labour was an “Oxymoron” too?
Conservatives have also been criticised by those on the left for the appointment of Theresa May and now Maria Miller as minister for women and equalities. Arm chair politicos have been quick to throw up headline grabbing voting histories in an attempt to label the Tories as homophobic by selecting these two senior ministers for the job.
One has to snigger at this slight hypocrisy of Labour members condemning the LGBT friendly backgrounds of ministers for equality when we don’t have to go back far to see Labour’s appointment of Ruth Kelly to the role, a member of the devout catholic group Opus Dei who have a strong anti-gay doctrine.
My view is simply this, I want the most competent and high profile minister as possible leading the equalities agenda and I will judge them by the job they do not by the different jobs they have done in the past. On that basis we have seen both the Conservative equalities' ministers leading on the introduction of equal marriage within a first term of a Conservative lead government, something Labour failed to achieve despite several historic landslide majorities and 13 years in office.
I’m not writing this article to try and tell people that the Conservatives are the only party for you if you happen to be LGBT or ignore the fantastic progress that Labour made whilst in office delivering basic rights and protection for many diverse people within society including those who define as LGBT. I am here to tell you that everyone is an individual and your sexuality and gender doesn’t define who you are, what you can achieve or what political party you should join. Some Tories are gay, bisexual or indeed transgender and its time some people got over it!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

NO Benefits for Sugar Daddies and Retired Bankers

Is it right that a millionaire gets his travel paid for by the state but yet a hard working family has to fund all their travel themselves?

Is it right that a sugar daddy gets winter fuel payments to pay towards his holiday home on the Costa Del Sol?

Is it right that retired bankers with gold plated pensions get reduced council tax yet a family of teachers and nurses have to pay their full tax?

The answer to all three of these questions is NO it is not right and I am happy to hear that the coalition have voiced support for the abolition of these benefits for rich pensioners, retired bankers and rich retired sugar daddies! (Ok I have picked on a niche area but true none the less)

What are Benefits?

Benefits are not a saving scheme nor a pension fund to top up your earnings when you retire, benefits are there as a safety net to protect and support the most vulnerable and those in need in society for as long as they need support or to help them get to a point where they can support themselves again.

Yet to often you hear "pensioners deserve this" "Ive paid into this all my life" and "Ive earn't my pension benefits" This is SIMPLY NOT TRUE.

Benefits are an insurance scheme you pay your premiums (tax) and if you are unfortunate enough to need to claim it then you will find support there to help you through your crisis. Like Insurance however if you have paid buildings insurance for 20 years and not made a claim you cants demand your insurance company gives you a new house and pensioner should not be demanding the government and us the tax payer fund their life styles any more than to support those at most in need.

Where to draw the line?

We have drawn the line when it comes to tax credits where we say above this level a family no longer needs the state to provide extra benefits to support them as they are able to support them selves. This line should become a universal benefits threshold anyone earning above this level be it a pensioner or otherwise should receive NO STATE BENEFITS, NO FREE BUS PASS, NO WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS. We have introduced a welfare cap on total benefits payouts and its time to extend that approach to benefits as a whole. Benefits and welfare have got out of hand and represent the main funding destination for our taxes paid to the treasury.

Where else to spend our money?

When we are in the middle of a recession, when we are debating how much to spend on international aid, when we are freezing and reducing other state benefits and when pressure on funds to the NHS are higher than they have been ever before IT IS WRONG that we continue to fund sugar daddies, pensioners world cruises and holiday homes for a minority of well off individuals simply because of their age. As a conservative I want peoples money to go to where it can make the most difference, where it can support a family to get onto their feet, where it can support a child to get through university, where it can fund the creation of more jobs through encouraging private sector stimulus these are just some of the things money currently being wasted could be spent on.

Labour's position

In Liverpool Labour handed out leaflets targeting the richest ward in the city Woolton and "millionaires row" attacking the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives for wanting to take away their bus passes and defending their rights to claim winter fuel payments. Nationally Labour have opposed plans to limit the rights of rich pensioners to claim state benefits and financial rewards they have currently.

Labour opposed the benefits cap and the right of working families to earn more than those claiming state benefits and living in luxurious post codes like Park Lane and Mayfair areas of the UK many hard working families can only dream of living in.

But yet its Labour again standing up for the retired ex bankers, standing up for the sugar daddies with their holiday homes in the Costa Del Sol and standing up for the millionaires in liverpool instead of the hard working families across the UK who are supporting themselves without any support from the state and to the expense of further support that could be provided to single parent families and those from more deprived areas if these millionaires had their benefits stopped.

Supporting Pensioners

I believe pensioners deserve our respect they deserve to be valued and supported when they need support. If you are in need the state should be there to help you back onto your feet or support you long term if you need it. If you need a bus pass to get around because you don't have the financial resources to get out we should be ensuring every pensioner that is in need knows they have access to a bus pass and don't need to feel isolated. I believe that NO pensioner should die or suffer because they simply cant afford to stay warm in winter and our system of support needs to be simple and adequate to meet pensioners needs and not simply a hand out with no regard for the support that is needed.

Campaigning to ensure those with excessive wealth do not receive state hand outs does not mean you don't support those pensioners in need in fact in means that you recognise how important that support is and make sure we have the resources to provide that support and to make sure we are not wasting money that could be better spent on providing more support and a better system as a whole.

I will continue to support pensioners in need and that's why I will continue to support the policies of the conservative and lib dem government that wish to simplify and focus support to those that are in need and not the pockets of retired ex bankers.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Star Trek Politics

Star Trek political voyage...

Growing up I was a bit of a geek, I loved maths, I was top of my class in every subject and I was Star Trek mad!

I had everything from the blue prints of the enterprise to the complete star trek fact files magazine collection!

I grew up in mainly rural parts of the UK Cumbria, Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon, all not known for their "particular diverse" communities and where prejudice existed in abundance. But through watching Start Trek I saw a world where difference was valued not feared, where people from all parts of the universe came together to work towards a common good and to stand up for their communities. This helped me to view the world differently to the racist homophobic home life I was growing up in and to see how the world "could be".

I know that Star Trek is often held up as the example of socialism and left wing politics in action and that how can a Tory feel their politics is so connected to such a representation?

Well the answer is because to me  it was more than a show about economics it was about community and social values. economics doesn't have to be the defining factor in how we view the world yes I believe in a capitalist market approach that promotes growth and encourages development but my social values don't stem from how I view we should manage economies but from a sense of community, love and diversity. Those were the values I saw in Star Trek. People willing to fight to stand up for their community and family, a shared love across the stars for all people even of different species and very diverse communities living in harmony working together and benefiting from each others differences to achieve advancements and developments that help us all.

When we surround ourselves with people who are exactly like us in our workplaces, friendship groups and communities we are surrounding ourselves with the same weaknesses and failures that we have ourselves, we are limiting our opportunities for success and not utilising everyone to achieve our potential.

When we focus on hate, difficulty, and retribution we are preventing ourselves being our whole selves directing energy to unproductive behaviors and waste the potential we would have to achieve if we could just work together.

When we refuse to stand up and support our communities we are refusing to let people support our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities and limiting ourselves to simply the some of the actions we can achieve on our own and we all need doctors, we all need the police and we all need neighbours who care about their communities too.

I believe that we are all individuals, we are all diverse and that communities are what make us strong. Its time we valued that individuality, valued diversity and valued the communities that we all live in only then may we all truly "LIVE LONG AND PROSPER"....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Equal marriage leading the way

Supporting The Family

Like most conservatives I believe that the family plays an important part in society and peoples lives. In an ideal world we would wish everyone came from a stable happy family home where they were properly supported and able to develop as a child and as adults have a supportive family around us our entire lives. 

We know unfortunately that this is not the case for many people my self included. Many grow up in broken homes, single parent families, or environments that don't allow us to be as supported as we would hope.

As a society we should be supporting strong family relationships and encouraging commitment what ever the sexuality or gender of the people in question. Its not being gay, lesbian or bisexual that leads to many children growing up under supported or growing old without a family around them its where they have not had strong family relationships built on commitment and love. 

One of the strongest ways this government can show support for the family and as conservatives cement it as one of the values we stand for is to be strong and continue to lead the agenda introducing equal or gay marriage to the UK within this parliament. Supporting equal marriage wont solve the issue of broken families and abusive relationships for all and doesn't mean that people who choose not to get married or bring children up as single parents aren't doing a good job or shouldn't be supported. Supporting equal marriage will show how ever as one of a number of measures that the government and the modern conservative party believe in family values and the importance of love and strong relationships in peoples lives to create a prosperous and happy society to live in.

Supporting equal marriage sends out the marriage that loud and clear gay or straight bisexual or lesbian that the conservative party is there for you that we believe in ensuring your able to share your love and commitment and it is valued by the society you live in. It will help to restore the culture that relationships are important and that commitment should be valued not seen as something you just do when your old and "past it".

By leading on equal marriage we re leading on family values and we are leading on supporting love and commitment and I cant think of anything more conservative than that.

Religious Freedom 

One of the greatest freedoms of the modern world is the freedom to worship free from prejudice or persecution. For generations in even the UK saying the wrong prayer at mass or worshiping with the wrong type of priest could see you imprisoned or at worst burnt at the stake. Like many conservatives I belief religion plays an important part in many peoples lives, it helps construct morals and values for people to work together in peace, it can encourage charity and sense of community that we all benefit from and it gives hope and promise to so many helping us lead fulfilled happy lives. Whether we belief in an organised religion or our own set of values that are distinct from a divine being or master plan we can all find common ground that brings us together under a join sense of importance and which has lead to many successful interfaith projects around the world, ending wars, helping the most vulnerable and rebuilding communities. Interfaith work often leads to a stronger sense of self what our own beliefs are by recognising how we see the world differently to others whilst still valuing the things we share in common.

Only through religious freedom and ability to have our own values free from oppression are we able to work together and create the positive communities we live in today. Yet one of the fundamental aspects of many religions "marriage" is not free to be practiced by the church, Islam or any other religion. The right to marry in the UK and in many countries is controlled by the state. The state decides who is allowed to marry when they can marry and where they can marry and who is allowed to carry out marriages. Its this control that leads to the current issue of "equal marriage". For me it isn't the states job to enforce mine or its values on the catholic church or any other religion within the practice of their religious beliefs (within the limits of a civilised and just society) I no more wish to dictate how  catholic chooses to carry out marriages than i do wish to dictate the prayers a catholic says before they go to bed, the reason for this is.... im not a catholic. However when it comes to equal marriage it is in fact the state that is interfering with the practice of religious beliefs already. Some churches and liberal Jewish groups do want to carry out same sex marriages right now and have made public statements to that effect, however under the current law dictated by the state they are not free to practice their religious beliefs and are not able to carry them out.

As a supporter of religious freedom I must by default be a supporter of equal marriage to defend the catholic churches right not to carry out same sex marriages you must also defend the right of other churches if they so wish to be able to carry them out and question "who is the state to tell them they are not allowed to practice their religion to do so?".

We have heard on the radio and through the media a sustained campaign by organisations linked to major christian organisations opposing equal marriage and even to the extent they will be protesting at this years conservative party conference. In effect what these groups of people are calling for is the continued interference of the government in UK citizens right to practice their own religious beliefs something which i suggest is neither conservative nor fits with modern British values that have existed for hundreds of yrs since the reformation when it comes to religious practice in the UK.

The organisations campaigning to oppose equal marriage are relying on hysteria and ignorance to win their campaign clouding peoples minds with myths around state enforced marriages and even claiming state interference with religious practice the exact thing they are actually campaigning for themselves (ironically). We have even seen the use of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights as a way of relying on peoples ignorance to push to agenda against equal marriage, using the current negative attitudes toward ECHR rulings to attach onto their campaign claiming the ECHR would force British churches to marry same sex couples the minute the government changes the law. Something which at best is a ignorant understanding of the law considering other European countries like Denmark already have equal marriage and have had no such problems and the case law in fact states clearly that this will not be the case and at worst a plain lie used  as simply propaganda to try and create hysteria against the equal marriage agenda lead by the government.

By being a supporter of equal marriage in the UK you are a supporter of religious freedom whether you agree with someones choices or not is irrelevant if you belief you should be able to practice your religious beliefs free from prejudice and oppression you must also support the right of others to do the same. This is why you should support equal marriage.


When anyone asks me to describe my politics I would use one word to sum it up "progressive". I believe in supporting politics that works not blindly following political ideology and dogma because that's what the party doctrine says. Tony Blair changed politics in the UK he pushed Labour towards the centre ending the control of the hard left militants wanting to pull the UK back into 4 day weeks, power cuts and bankruptcy and pushed the conservative party to reform to embrace its liberal heritage and centre ground showing the dinosaurs of the past that they simply weren't in touch with "modern Britains" any more.

I'm involved in politics because I want to make a difference I want to push the boundaries and make the communities we live in better places for all. I don't want legislation for the sake of legislation and I dont want promises that do nothing but keep people as under represented minorities in need of a hand out because no one has given them a hand up.

I believe the modern conservative party is about exactly that stripping away the barriers people face in everyday life to give everyone an equal chance in life. Being a modern conservative is about being a mentor a guide and a friend looking to support and encourage people to be the best they can be who ever  they are and where ever they come from. I believe that being a modern conservative is about truly pushing the boundaries showing that the party has let go of its past and is looking to its future, one which empowers not legislates, supports not dictates and listens not imposes. 

Change however takes time parties are made up of people and change is the one thing many people find hard to accept. MPs often spend decades in the chamber and achieving fundamental shifts in party views take strong arguments, strong evidence and a lot of patience. I know that as a whole the conservative party is committed to reform, committed to moving forward and committed to standing up for progressive values but its through a parties actions it is judged and on equal marriage we have one such occasion to show we are as good as our word.

Only one mainstream political party went into the 2010 general election promising equal marriage it was the conservatives. Labour had 13 years in government with over whelming majorities but failed to deliver on this agenda. The time has come to show that we can deliver on our promises and that where Labour failed we will succeed.

By implementing equal marriage we s a party can show how far we have come and what we stand for as we go forward. Some MPs don't support it which is sad but as I have said already a symptom of change and the make up of parliament rather than the will and progress of the party as a whole. We need to keep the message loud and clear that the conservative party is fully behind the equal marriage agenda we support the diverse communities we have in the UK and that its delivering meaningful rights and changes will be the focus of the governments equality and diversity agenda rather than processes and red tape a legacy we saw under Labour.

Whether your Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem equal marriage is an agenda that only those opposed to progress and progressive politics will oppose and as progressives ourselves we need to stand up be counted and say loud and clear progress is hear to stay!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Transgender children time to stop ignoring them

Transgender Children

This is a topic that is all too often avoided or when it is discussed it is done through dramatic over exaggerations by articles in newspapers like the Daily Mail. The truth is this is a topic dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of society who need our support and care not political disdain and avoidance.

In the UK based on official estimates there are around 10 000 Transsexual people with referrals increasing between 20%-50% a yr. The Tavistock centre which is a specialist NHS service for gender variant children receives over 150 admissions a yr and referrals are rising at a rate well above 50% a yr.

Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical Condition that has been treated and supported for decades with an established academic library of research and expert consultants working in the field around the world. Self harm is common amongst all transsexual people with suicide rates ranging between 40-50%. The emotional distress can begin very early on with feelings of isolation, not understanding why your different, feeling alone and frustrated with the environment your gender places you in. Around Puberty these feelings become increasingly intense and is often the trigger for many self harm or suicide attempts as a child's body begins to develop more gendered features and they feel more and more disconnected to the body they are in. Its at this point they can often feel further isolated by being unable to get support off friends or family due to fear and stigma that's still associated around gender and may feel lost with inability to explore themselves to understand their own gender role. Its also at this age that their peer groups will often become more gender polarised and feel peer pressure to fit into the environment their gender places them in. This can lead to social isolation or internal repression with a child trying to fit into a persona or stereotype they are not to hide who they really are. All of this has a traumatic effect on both the child's normal social development and their personal well being.

These are the reasons we need to properly support trans children not because of some PC brigade campaign or some political motive to rid society of gender or other barmy idea that gets rolled out, but to support and protect the children who are going through this traumatic experience which can continue for decades into their adult life and may ultimately lead to their death through suicide or self injury.

If your little boy came up to you and told you mummy I'm not a boy I'm a girl what would you say?

The answer is many of us don't know what we would say we simply haven't thought about it or had it cross our minds. From the moment a child is born we ask "is it a boy or a girl?" and from that moment on their gender is set we buy them blue for boys pink for girls and their gender no longer crosses our minds. In reality if a child did say to their mum I'm not really a boy the response would be more of where did he get this silly idea from or a response of fact "oh dear of course your a boy your mummy's little boy". Now its true that most trans children wont be so matter of fact about their gender and come out with a clear statement but the point remains that very few parents would even consider that their child may be transgender. Most trans children are often very confused may become depressed have social and behavioural issues at school and be on occasions not fitting into gendered stereotypes. These are the signs that a child may need time to explore themselves and might indeed be transgender. But how many of these children are being referred onto people who can help them explore themselves their gender and get the support they need, how many teachers recognise these factors, how many parents would join up the dots, how many GPs would see it as an appropriate referral and how many primary mental health teams have the skills to be able to assess the child as needing a referral to the tavistock centre to help explore their gender? Answer is very few to all of the above and for a trans child to receive the care and support they need the answer has to be yes to all are they wont get anywhere near an appropriate care pathway.

The consequence for this is only very supportive parents who happen to be knowledgeable about trans issues and have a GP or medical team where the child is referred to have the same level of knowledge will a child get the support they need. This means if your from a more deprived background, a background where religion may not be supportive of trans people and have a medical team or GP that don't have the appropriate knowledge based around transgender children then the likelihood is the child will "drop through the net" and their mental distress will continue.

What support is there now?

Nationally the Tavistock Centre provides specialist support to trans children, their families and their local primary mental health teams. This support varies depending on the age of the child from support to explore themselves in a safe space, to family support and at puberty the opportunity for hormone blockers to be used to delay puberty until they are 16 when they can be prescribed cross sex hormones and eventually SRS (genital or other surgery). However that's it there is very little if any training provided to support local mental health teams initially identify and support trans children and they are expected to provide support surrounding over secondary mental health issues following a referral to the tavistock centre too. Safe guarding teams don't receive training to be able to identify when parent are not appropriate supporting children who may be trans and a culture of well its "parents choice" still exists despite gender dysphoria been a recognised medical condition for decades and the traumatic effect lack of support can have for a child such as the suicide and self harm rates I've discussed, for any other mental health condition staff are appropriately trained to identify and support families where children aren't receiving the care and support they need.

when a child has transitioned all too often schools don't understand their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 in terms of supporting a trans child and simply don't understand the medical nature and traumatic experience the child may have gone or is going through and schools as a result can often be very defensive, don't provide appropriate support or may even refuse to allow the child to present in the gender role they feel comfortable in. This is often caused through again lack of training and information for teachers and governing bodies on transgender people and they often rely on adhoc links to people from other areas such as the NHS or social services to gain patchy information around how to support a trans child.

What do we need to do?

The current support that is available for transchildren is not enough, the gaps it leaves are both damaging for all trans children and discriminating by the lack of access for families and children that don't "hold all the cards" to start with ie information they need to navigate the system. Primary Healthcare teams need proper support and training to understand trans identities, trans children and the support they need including the current care pathways that exist within the NHS. Teachers need to be given information and guidance about what support they should be giving to trans pupils and the legal obligations schools are under to do that. They also need to know when to flag up that a child may need support and may be wanting to explore their gender more. Positive examples of trans people within school resources can help create a more supportive environment for any child who is trans or exploring their gender and is no more radical than the idea that we don't just show white British people on school resources because we live in a diverse world that children need to understand and be able to engage with successfully. Safeguarding teams need to be given the confidence, information and guidance to be able to identify when a trans child is not being appropriately supported by their parents, they need to be given the tools to properly support the childs parents who may simply need more information and guidance themselves, but where appropriate deal with a case the same way one would deal with a parent refusing to allow medical staff support a child with any other mental health issue. Finally we need support for parents often lack of support is not due to prejudice or discrimination but simply ignorance and lack of information we need to empower parents to see how they can properly support their own children and share life stories so they can see the trauma and isolation their child may be going through. When any good parent sees the distress their own child is in they will want to engage and support them as best they can, so this information is vital to helping ensure all trans children are properly supported both at home and throughout their childhood.

Real world

What we as humans all find hard to accept is change and difference. when we walk down the street if we see someone with a large facial disfigurement we may glance across, that's simply us noticing something difference its involuntary and often cant help it, however we can choice whether we stand and stare or if we keep on walking thats the voluntary action we decided based on our own prejudices and empathy.

The idea that a women standing in front of you "used to be a man" is what many people find hard to get their heads round, gender is so fundamentally fixed from birth and part of everyday society that when its seen to change it shatters how we perceive and interact with the world. However the reality is the women standing in front of you hasn't "changed her gender" she has always been a women she simply changed her presentation and other peoples perception of her gender she as a person has never changed.

This becomes so much clearer with trans children the little girl you see in front of you didn't "used to be anything else" ok was assigned a different gender when she came out of her mummy's womb but she hasn't really had chance to grow up to change she is just being the little girl she knows she is and letting her own personality come out. She hasn't had a big transition having socialised as one gender for half her life etc she is just living, playing and interacting like all little girls and the reason for this is she is simply a little girl that happens to be trans the same way some little girls happen to have asthma or some another medical issue and that is something alot easier for the human mind to understand.

When trans children are supported to be the gender they truly are they aren't so complex they don't go through the traumatic experience of puberty of the opposite sex to who they are as a person, they don't feel as isolated and they can develop socially in the same way as every other child and go on to lead successful happy lives free from the trauma they would have experienced if they hadn't received the support during their childhood to be who they truly are.

If you want to truly understand trans children thou you need to listen to a child themselves and i challenge anyone to not support and emphasise with trans children after watching a little girl called jazz share here experiences of being a trans child (listen to her sing at the end of part 2)

Part 1:Transgender Children - Jazz (1)
Part 2:Transgender Children - Jazz (2)

For further information please look at:
GIRES - Gender Intelligence Research and Education Society:
Mermaids - Charity that support transgender children & families:

Friday, 7 September 2012

Police Commissioners Should we care?

Should We Care?

In November for the first time the UK will have elected commissioners in charge of police forces across the country. The aim is to make the police more accountable to the communities they serve and better ran.

As expected most of these contests have become party political battles often between ex MPs and other well known political figures some who genuinely have a background and in interest in the role and others who quite clearly want to push their own "celebrety profile".

The big question for local political activists is should we care, do we get involved and what are the issues?

I think the answer to the first is yes we should all care about who is running our police force for me it is a fundemental intrument of justice that is key for productive and good communities to be supported. Who is in charge of the police obviously has a masisvely important role and effect on all of lives either directly or indirectly through the communities we live in. However like most people I am struggling with this concept of party political slates deciding who is incharge of one of the instruments of justice something I feel strongly should be quite distinct from the whipping and party positioning that goes on within the party political world. The police need to be independant and seen to be independant for them to have the support of all of their local community. When I am recruiting people for jobs I dont ask them what political party they are a member of and I certainly dont see it as a credential needing to be asked of any new "chief of police"

The next issue is about whether or not we get involved if as it is inevitable that campaigns are going to turn party political and it wouldnt be fair or just to simply ban political parties then the question is simply "when is it that political parties should be getting involved in Police and Crime Commisioner elections?" and "Should we be recuriting and trying to stand candidates in every election?"

My response to this is NO as a conservative if we have a strong candidate with a background in policing or other relevent experience then of course we should be supporting and backing their campaign to stand as a fellow conservative who would obviously benefit their local community it seems to me that would be a sensible and a well prioritised decision. However this is not the case across the country. Where we as a party are scrapping together school governors and anyone else we can manage to stand be it as conservatives or labour doing the same on their side the ide of whipped slates with inadequte people to do the job simply standing on the parties name seems at best wrong and at worse a complete risk to the public and our local communities policing teams.

There is also an impact on party resources in May we saw the party lose many hard working conservative councillors across the country through usual mid term government polling and over the next few yrs will be fighting hard to get these people back into seats and back supporting their local communities. Where it is obvious that we have no chance of winning PCC elections, where we have a candidate who really doesnt have the experience for the job and where we have other pressures on party resources it seems only sensibe to me that we do not stand a candidate and isntead prioritise our campaigns on outcomes we can achieve. This is what the party is doing in govenrment on issues such as international development so why dont we start applying our own political logic to our local campaign strategies?

I for one didnt attend our local PCC selection meeting for those reasons and would of prefered the party to have focused on our local campaigns after we didnt have a stand out candidate jumping out to stand.

Police Commissioners are not a totally bad policy they give local accountability, visability and more transparency but there is a danger that elections become red versus blue and not good policing versus bad policing and thats the debate i really want to have.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pasties, Petrol and the Taxman

After the Chancellor announced in May that the UKs beloved Pasty was to become the next income generator for the treasury we saw the power of public opinion in action. Greggs didnt need to spend millions on an advertising campaign, bill boards and public affairs gurus they simply put the facts to the people and let the people speak for themselves.

Now the time has come for Shell, BP and the supermarkets to follow Greggs lead and let the public decide on whether petrol tax is reasonable or not. We dont need big glossy campaigns or the tax payers alliance rolling out another toxic ex Tory now ukip spokesperson to condemn the government. We need one simple action to solve this situation once and for all....

The time has come to display the price of tax free petrol on every pump in the land, on every large electronic petrol station sign and on every customer receipt. Any public affairs consultant worth their soul should be telling these companies put the issue to the public the level of tax is so excessive just seeing it in black an white us shocking. If people are happy continuing to pay some of the highest petrol prices in the western world great, but i think you'll find your average motorist soon gets sick of seeing the hundreds of pounds they are handing over to the chancellor each month just to drive to work....

Petrol prices are destroying small businesses who cant afford to pass costs onto their customers, causing inflation through higher prices where retailers have passed on the costs and damaging hard working rural families who need their car for the school run and commuting to work. petrol prices are bad for business, bad for the economy and bad for families.

As a conservative i want to put the money back into peoples hands to spend object themselves and their families not to fund climate change conferences in far flung parts of the world.

If we are going to tax people it needs to be fair and reasonable a description that by now stretch of the imagination could describe the current petrol tax situation. If you live in a rural area your punished, if you run a small business your punished, if you have to commute to work to contribute to the economy your punished and if you have kids and need to take them to school or other activities your punished.

We have seen the pasty tax, we have the petrol tax, i say its now time to AXE THE TAX!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Back From Campaigning

so im back.... i took a short break from blog split ging while the local elections were taking place for the same reason those who follow me on twittering will know I've spent virtually every spare hour outside work campaigning. First of all there was the Bradford by election then I've spent my time split between supporting the wirrals campaign and my own Liverpool associations mayor and local elections campaign.

I may not be fully recovered from elections mayhem just yet but hope to get back to regular blogging again :)

So I hope you enjoy my future posts x

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Workfare a step up not a hand out

What happens when you give a small group of people a megaphone, access to social networking and the media? You get the claim "they speak for everyone in the uk", that's exactly the situation we have got over "workfare".

Workfare is a classic case of mountain out of a mole hill but where there wasn't even a mole in the first place. The scheme which is designed to give unemployed people a chance to gain work experience and something to place on their cv thus increasing their chances of getting a job has been jumped on and labelled as "slave labour" by the rent a megaphone bandwagon.

Whether its in final years of secondary school or placements during many educational courses from time in parliament with labour and conservative MPs, journalism, mini pupilages in barristers chambers and vacation schemes in solicitors the concept of "gaining" experience to improve your chances of getting on the career ladder is a well established one, yet a concept the critics of workfare have conveniently ignored.

At a time when the job market is as competitive as ever at all levels young people need every opportunity they can to improve their chances of getting a job and many are grateful of the opportunity available through workfare. But even when due to a challenge jobs market where we need to encourage more people into work the campaign against workfare is taking those vital opportunities away from our next generation, damaging their prospects and continuing the "benefits dependency culture" we saw grow under the last labour government.

The argument we have seen thrown at the workfare scheme is "well if people drop out they face benefit sanctions and then "can't buy food or have money to live" well news flash we all have responsibilities and life choices if I don't go to work on monday morning then I won't be able to buy food or live. Just because you are on benefits doesn't mean you shouldn't have to take responsibility for your actions and face the life choices the rest of us face, in fact its important you do so the transition back into work is a smooth one. Its the same discussion that was had over the benefits cap and living in expensive houses but expecting the state to subsidise even thou if those people were in work they wouldn't be able to afford to live there, the benefits cap helps instil that culture of "life choice and responsibility" and workfare is doing exactly the same thing.

Could workfare be improved? Yes I'd like to see more community third sector organisations involved and experience offered within projects that benefit the whole community too and we need to communicate the scheme effectively to the public and to job centre staff implementing it but is the scheme fundamentally wrong? No quite the opposite in fact, its exactly what is needed to give people the experience they need to get that first foot on the jobs ladder.

As conservatives we are constantly looking to help give people the "step up" to help themselves into work and give them the dignity and self respect they deserve, whilst the left would prefer to pull away that ladder and give people handouts to live instead removing their dignity aspirations and prospects in the process too.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Same sex marriage - freedom and choice not right and wrong

One of the big topics of conversations on the "diversity agenda" in politics at the moment is same sex marriage.

The debate that we often see from the left is the same old "this is right" and "this is wrong". Ironically this is the same debate we have seen from some religions over the years to "morally" justify certain positions or practice. I've also seen people in the pro gay marriage camp labelling all catholics "homophobic" and bigots...

My position is this is a completely unhelpful and the wrong starting point for a fair and "free" world.

We have seen some rather positive commentary from prominent conservatives pointing out the value of marriage in society and the importance it plays in day to day life and how opening it up to all would only add further to the benefit we all receive and for its place in wider society. We need to be sending this message out when we discuss same sex marriage rather than the negative divisive campaigning I often hear when the issue is discussed.

I don't want a society where we force the catholic church to marry gay people I'm not catholic and so its for catholics to have that debate within their own religion rather than the government to legislate religious belief...but equally its not the catholic churches place to tell other religions who want to carry out same sex marriage and are open to it that they shouldn't be allowed.

Put simply we need to move this debate on from one of "right and wrong" to one around "freedom and choice" as conservatives we agree legislation should be about protecting freedoms not micro managing the economy and day to day life that's a message I support fully and we need to follow here.

Let's legislate for freedom and leave religions to sort out the choice...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Community conservativism the answer to winning in the north?

This week I've seen several debates and discussions around the make up of the conservative party, the "southern focus" and lack of break through in the UK's big northern cities.

A lot of the reasons for the party having no councillors or MPs in cities like liverpool are historic, built through lack of trust resulting from the last economic crisis where the local economy was hit harder than most due to the need for economic restructuring and the reality of the distribution of manufacturing and other industries in the north. This led to years of resulting tribal labour and socialist liberal administrations that have continued to push the myth "tories don't care" and you "can't trust a tory". That historic scaremongering and lack of opposition due to the collapse of our votes here during the early 90s has left the party with very little voice and thousands of voters out of touch with our messages.

In recent times we have been pragmatic focusing on small target areas and single candidates issues rather than offering a real alternative for the region because the task seems so vast on the parties grass roots have not been as organised as they now are.

I am here to say that times have changed, the party has changed and its time to put up a real vision of change for the north and in our northern cities. Instead of focusing on individual areas and a single candidate we need to come together with a serious alternative for the administrations running cities LIke Liverpool. We need to run local community forums opening up decisions on themes to our local communities helping them set our agenda celebrating our strengths of transparency and community focus.

Once we have set the themes our selected candidates need to help shape the agenda on every policy area we need a clear vision for a "conservative alternative" so that on the door step we can give voters a proper choice and a set of policies to get behind in a time where some councils are still raising council taxes and wasting money on inefficient services and pet projects that deliver little for local residents.

I wouldn't just stop there. Where we have really struggled to break through over last decade like my home city of Liverpool, we need to open up more, we need to go to the people and go:

"ok we understand you haven't trusted us in the past but we are listening and we want you to have a say in the future of local conservatives in their community."

How we do this should be through the trial of open primaries in these key under engaged areas. Let's take candidates out into these communities and have them decide who they think is best, let them have their say and feel part of the parties future in their own community.

We have seen big society in action and pushed hard on our localism agenda, it is now time to take things a step further and develop truly "community led conservativism" in the north.

Small tweeks and pokes is not what will deliver results for the party here its this type of complete re focus that we need if we are to truly make these historic cities blue again.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

"Think green think local"

Over the last decade we have seen the green agenda blow up and be a big issue on the national and international stage and parties have struggled to make themselves "look the most green". Our coalition partners like to be seen as the friends of the planet and labour like to see themselves as world ambassadors on the "climate change agenda". But at the same time we have seen people polarised by a subject which has had little in objective outcomes, despite the billions invested and the time spent on discussing it by our national politicians.

The debate is often about:

does climate change exist?
- I say we can measure and see it happening so yes.

Are we its cause?
- I say we need more evidence to have a positive assertion that we do, but we are likely to be a significant contributor to it.

What do we do about it?
- I say let's tear up the agenda and start again!

As Conservatives we need to make this issue our own we are not the "protectors of the world" or "world ambassadors for climate change" like the lib dems and labour. We are leading the UK government and local uk councils in the face of some significant economic and local challenges here. The debate about cause or effect is a "moot point" we as a nation can not make a significant impact on preventing or reducing climate change even if we turned out the lights tomorrow. So the question is why in a period of economic turmoil should we continue to pour billions into pet projects and feel good global conferences on the issue?

I want to see a conservative party making green "local" we need to talk about clean rivers not clean wind power, we need to discuss waste management and landfill not how we manage global carbon emissions and we need to look at our local wildlife and nature reserves not what's happening in far off nations that we have very little impact on. As a party we have pushed the "Big society" and localism agenda, now is the time to take up the baton and make this issue a truly local and conservative led campaign.

When people say "think green" I want the response to be "think local" this needs to be our mantra up and down the uk adding it to the fantastic social action projects local conservatives are already involved in.

I know I've joined a party with a truly local focus now I'm asking is it time we made green the big local issue too...