Cllr Leon Spence represents Whitwick on Leicestershire County Council and recently defected from the Labour Party to the Conservatives.
It’s been just over a week now since I made the biggest political decision of my life.
After a lifetime of voting, being a member of and councillor for the Labour Party I crossed the great political divide and joined the Conservatives.
Only, there isn’t a great political divide. When you have been a centrist member of Labour, believing in both efficiently maintained public services AND support for wealth and job creators there has historically been not a chasm but just a small step to navigate.
The problem in the modern Labour Party, a party being collectively run by every leftist cult imaginable (just think what is going to happen when they all fall out), is that there is no room for those sensible views.
Ever so quietly, but oh so definitely, the Conservatives have taken to the centre ground of politics where pragmatism and sense often reigns. Mrs May has consciously made that ground her very own and thankfully shows no desire or sign of giving it up.
I joined that Conservative Party precisely because the Prime Minister was speaking to me and to the type of community I represent. She talks to the white working class in my area, perhaps the first politician to ever address their poor educational outcomes directly. She makes it clear that she is on the side of ordinary working families who at times find it a struggle to make ends meet, but more importantly you believe that she is on your side.
Theresa May seems to represent the real One Nation politics that Ed Miliband talked about but never did seem to quite get that it meant working for everyone and not just your special interest groups.
A couple of days after filling in my Tory Party membership form I was cornered by a hard working, minimum wage earning, lifelong Labour voting woman that I happen to know.
She was angry with me.
“Why the bloody hell have you done that?” she asked, “What will the Tories do for me?”
I asked her “What do you want the Tories to do for you?”
After thinking for a few seconds she said “I don’t really know.”
As our County Council annual budget meeting was coming up I asked her “Do you use libraries?”
“No” was her reply.
“Do you use museums?”
“How about Community Centres?”
“Haven’t been in one in years” she told me.
“Then what is it, what is top of your list that you want County Hall to do for you?” I persisted.
She eventually answered “I want my Council Tax to be as low as possible. It’s difficult enough paying the bills without being charged more all of the time.”
“And that is what the Tories have been doing for you.” Was my reply.
“Oh,” said my acquaintance “I’ve never thought of it like that.” I doubt very much whether I converted a voter during that discussion, but she definitely left thinking that sometimes it isn’t what someone else does for you but rather what they don’t take off you against your will take matters.
It’s no small surprise that the week after I crossed the floor so did, metaphorically at least, the parliamentary constituency of Copeland.
The message of being on the side of working people permeates not just in the wilds of Cumbria, or the ex-mining towns of Leicestershire but all over Britain.
In the wake of the Copeland victory there has been much talk of the Conservatives ‘parking their tanks on Labour’s lawn’, in actual fact we are doing no such thing.
You can talk of tanks if you will but I prefer to call it listening to and speaking for a vast swathe of families who have felt passed by.
It’s why I am proud to join the Conservatives, but more importantly it is clear that we as Conservatives are speaking up for those that others are taking for granted or simply ignoring.