Marshall Tisdale is studying history and politics at Cardiff University.
This year’s Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham was my first of hopefully many. Despite my recent start at Cardiff University, I made the (not so) tough choice to skip lectures, and come back to the city I was born in to attend the conference of the Party that I deeply love.
I spent a lot of my time at the conference working in my role as Secretary to the Birmingham Young Conservatives. I was out there on the conference floor, promoting our YC organisation as much as I possibly could to MPs, Cabinet Ministers and members alike. As well as preaching the good word to existing Conservatives, I used the media to promote us to the wider world, using multiple social media platforms, and of course through the old media and its journalists. One such journalist being Owen Jones.
After spotting Owen across the ICC lobby, I decided to throw myself into the political deep-end. He ended up being my first interaction with the political media. Indeed, I approached him after my Chairman had explicitly texted me not to talk to Owen Jones. But I couldn’t resist. I saw him standing there, and seized the opportunity to promote the YCs (and myself.)
I told Owen that I wanted his autograph for my older brother who, as a lefty, is a massive fan of his. This immediately grabbed his attention. I added that I was open to discussing my and my brother’s differences in an interview, and Owen jumped at the opportunity. I mean, why wouldn’t he: after all, he has a penchant for trying to catch out white, male, Tories? (And straight ones too – but unfortunately for Owen I don’t fit into that category.)
Everything was set up; Owen and his crew were ready, and we thus began the interview that you haven’t seen. Owen started by asking me: how on earth are I and my brother so different? But having undertaken the interview, why hasn’t be uploaded it? Because, I suspect, it personifies everything great about conservatism, and everything wrong with socialism.
So why, then, are my brother and I so different? It’s all about how we were raised. My brother, growing up, was prepared to be the best. He received private tutoring from a young age and attended the local grammar school (which needless to say was the best in the area). He had everything set up for him and was able to coast along – no issue. He did this and came out at the other end seeing injustices in the world, which there are, but with no real first-hand experience of how to tackle them. And so Labour, the party that promises the earth, but has no way to deliver it, became his natural home.
I, on the other hand, did not have private tutoring and did not go to the local grammar school: I had nothing set up for me. Instead, I went to another local state school. I was not academically gifted, and my early years at secondary school can be described as mediocre, at best. Because of this, I saw opportunities pass me by, and I missed chances to grow as a better student and person.
I changed this. I worked harder, and improved myself. I saw the benefit that hard work can bring, and how it allows more opportunities to present themselves. This is what made me a Conservative. This is why I take Conservative approaches to the same injustices that my brother sees, and why we’re so different.
I suspect that this is why Owen Jones did not use our interview in his conference round up, because it does not fit his narrative. A young, state-educated, gay kid from Birmingham like myself should, in his and the Left’s eyes, not be a Conservative. They believe it to be unthinkable that someone like me could be one. But that’s exactly Labour’s problem: they only care about where you came from, whereas the Conservatives care about where you are going, and how we can help you get there.
There will be those on the Left that will disagree with what I have written so far (naturally). They’ll probably claim that my brother is a one-off case. But is he really? I have spent my whole life living in a town with two grammar schools, and growing up with kids who leave the other side as hard-core lefties.
Indeed, there is no greater proof of what I suggest then the current labour leadership itself. Jeremy Corbyn, the great true leader, the champion for the everyman, was part of the few he so negatively talks about. He went to private and grammar schools throughout his childhood and teenage years, and has never worked in a proper job in his life. Other high-profile Labour MPs have followed the same course. In the case of Diane Abbott, she sent her son to a private school, but at the same time proposes to strip that opportunity from everyone else.
I cannot stress enough how important my unaired interview is. It reveals a left-wing ideology, and the anti-opportunity party that Labour really is – how, in reality, while Labour continue to pull the ladder up after them, it’s the Conservatives who are the ones lowering it, so that people have the chance to improve themselves. We are the party of opportunity, we are the party of equality – we are the party not just for the few, or even for the many, but for everyone.