First up, today it's the turn of the Bosworth Conservative Association Chairman, Peter Bedford, who was also recently elected as our local County Councillor.
Then it'll be Chris Kealey, who was Labour's Parliamentary Candidate at the general election, followed by the LibDem's Parliamentary Candidate, who is also a local county councillor.
Peter read law at the University of Leicester, before training and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Since qualifying Peter has worked within several large organisations such as Bardon Aggregates, Next and currently works as a Senior Audit Manager for soft drinks manufacturer Britvic plc.
He is Chairman of Bosworth Conservative Association and County Councillor for Markfield, Desford & Thornton on Leicestershire County Council.
My journey in the Conservative Party started back in the year 2000, when I was just 14 years of age, and a student at my local secondary school. Perhaps politics is a somewhat unorthodox interest for a 14-year-old lad from a working-class family; but having strong opinions and a belief in achieving change for the betterment of one’s community and family has always been at the core of who I am as a person. Indeed, at that time I wouldn’t have described myself as a ‘Conservative’ or indeed having any affiliation with a political party; but that all changed after I met, who I am proud to say is a dear friend of mine, Peter Bone MP.
I first met Peter Bone after a church service in which our local youth worker suggested that I might ‘grill’ him on many issues, particularly given that he was standing as the Conservative Candidate for my home town of Rushden in the Wellingborough Constituency.
After a good half hour of grilling Peter on a range of issues from sex trafficking through to membership of the European Union (Yes, I was a Eurosceptic back then too!), he invited me to his office the following day. The rest you might say is history – soon after I joined the Conservative Party and have been active in all General, European and Local elections ever since!
At the time, and even today, people would ask: “Why are you a Conservative, you’re from a single parent family – you should be a ‘Labour Man’”. This mentality infuriates me, because THE REASON that I am a Conservative is because I believe in aspiration and the philosophy that it does not matter who you are, or where you have come from, but what you do with your life that matters.
Being the eldest of three sons in a single parent family very much shaped my outlook on life; it equipped me with the drive and focus to better myself, by attending university and establishing a decent career, and in turn better the circumstances and life of my family. To me this goes to the heart of what being a Conservative is all about.
Do not get me wrong - over the years I have found myself disagreeing with the Party on a range of issues; but at my core I believe that it is individuals and not the State that knows what is best for oneself and community.
Acknowledging the stereotypes that have dogged the Conservative Party for time immemorial I have personally always described myself as a ‘working class Tory’. By that I mean someone who was not born with a silver spoon, but has had to work damn hard to achieve the successes that I have been blessed with in my life to date. Indeed, I would say that the vast majority of Party Members fall into this camp; as such it is disappointing to see all too often Conservative Party Members being portrayed as privileged ‘toffs’ – as in my experience nothing could be further from the truth.
In my view, the key challenge facing the Conservative Party today can be summed up by a single word: Aspiration. At the recent General Election, the Party failed to provide a manifesto offering that could capture the aspirations of a generation of young people. A generation who face tens of thousands of pounds of university debts, where the prospect of owning their own home seems but a dream and where rates of pay have flatlined. If the Party is to re-engage with this generation of young voters it must provide radical solutions to satisfy their aspirations.
The Party must, to coin a phrase, ‘think outside of the box’ in formulating solutions; for a failure to do so will prove fatal to not only the Party’s survival, but also to the Country’s prosperity which would be put at stake under the ‘hard left’ platform advocated by today’s Labour Party.
Indeed, like many former Parliamentary Candidates I get frustrated at the perceived ‘old boys club’, that goes on in all Parties, where our MP’s appear overall to come from the same educational, social, and political circles and do not truly reflect the diversity (age, sex, race, sexuality, background, education) of our Country. This is something that I hope to play a part in changing over the coming years.
Finally, I conclude with a concept that has run through me since my days as a 6th form student: ‘Rights & Responsibilities’.
All too often we as citizens know our ‘Rights’ and are only too willing to shout when we feel that these have been infringed by another; but conversely, we overlook our ‘Responsibilities’ to others and how our own actions may affect their ‘Rights’. I think the Country, and indeed the World would be a far better place if we all considered this interrelationship in everything that we do.