One of the joys of community work is I get to rub shoulders with people from all political parties and get on with the majority of them, often finding common ground. For some though on the left, the idea of a caring Conservative is an oxymoron. My experience, however, is I have come across and work with those who I regard as caring and who are Conservative in their political preferences.
When in my student days I went counter to what the majority of my peers were doing at the time and began to sympathize with the Conservatives, even though I started out as a Labour supporter, it was because I reacted, among other things, to what I saw as Labour led non-compliance with the rule of law. But just as I never came back to being a fully fledged Labour supporter, I did not fully throw in my lot with the Conservatives either. The main reason I voted Conservative in the General Elections, for a number of years, was because I had a lot of time for the then sitting Conservative MP.
But going back to the notion of “caring Conservative”, it was a term a friend who had once been a prominent member of the local Conservative group came up with in our discussions. It was because, in his view, caring Conservatism doesn’t exist anymore that he decided to leave the party. It occurs to me that while caring Conservatives exist and, for all I know, notwithstanding the need to define “caring”, as much as caring members of any other party, I am less sure when it comes to caring Conservatism.
I like the idea of free enterprise and the idea of creating the climate for individuals to thrive and prosper away from state control rather appeals. However, because I believe we are no longer a God fearing nation that sees caring for the poor and vulnerable as particular priorities, I do not believe Conservatism works and without a way to force or encourage the hands of the “haves” the “have nots” will still have not. That does not mean I have become a Green or Labour, for I don’t believe over state control and a lack or prudent economics works either, thus creating a dilemma, especially since as well as believing religion is important as we need hope and direction, so is politics when making changes that affect the vulnerable.
I am sure come election time the various political parties will give reasons why I should support them and while unlikely to evaluate the arguments in great depth in order to decide which is the lesser of evils in order to get my vote, the following are reasons, as things currently stand, why I won’t vote Conservative, although I don’t rule out voting for a good candidate that happens to be Conservative:
- Conservatives have done too little to prevent rich corporations paying their fair share of taxes.
- Conservative policy on welfare reform leaves too many casualties among the most vulnerable.
- Conservative policy on taking away tax credits have especially affected the less well off.
- Conservative ideals on British values aren’t mine and neither should they impose these.
- Conservative response to the refugee crisis has at times bordered on the disgraceful.
- Conservative policies, e.g. lack of available of affordable housing contribute to homelessness.
- Conservatives have failed to convince me that it will withstand EU corruption and control.
- Conservatives don’t get it when it comes to their anti extremist taking away liberties measures.
- Conservatives fail to convince on issues I care about, such as abortion, same sex marriage and religious freedom.
- Conservative measures to do with privatizing parts of the NHS I find to be worrying.