I have never made a secret of my liberal Conservative views, but recently had to promote them to an audience of community and voluntary sector representatives, at the Community Works Hustings.
Slightly nervous that I would be perceived as a caricature of ‘Tory’, driven by support for large business and with little knowledge about the real struggles of everyday life, I hope I dispelled these myths.
The reality is that I, and my fellow Conservative colleagues who represent you on the council, favour free expression, free market entrepreneurship and minimal state power, and that this is why we are massive supporters of the community and voluntary sector.
Brighton and Hove is a city of free expression, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Conservatives are the only local party who remain champions of an ideal that is under genuine threat: the freedom to choose.
In my ward of Hangleton and Knoll I see hundreds of choices made every day, all made without any threat of interference from the council, and this ability to choose to live your life as you please, providing it doesn’t harm others, is what makes me a Conservative.
My Labour and Green opponents in the council are increasingly seeking to close down your options, by increasing the levels of council control over your daily lives, but I want the council to promote freedom; encourage hard work; instil self-reliance instead of dependency; and provide a society where everyone, no matter what their race, gender, sex or religion, has that potential to be something special. The hard-left across the city include people who think they are smarter than you, know more about your lives than you do and will seek to tell you what to do, by increasing council control.
Yes, I am afraid that the hard-left consider the community and voluntary sector to be providing ‘privatised services’, and would like to bring them back under council control – however bonkers that sounds. It is now becoming clear that I am the only local leader who can unite all sensible folks across Brighton and Hove after the local election in May next year.