Tony Janio: What it means to be a Conservative

Tony Janio
Tony Janio

In my previous article a few of my personal views leaked out, which led to several requests for an explanation of what makes somebody a Conservative. In this short column, I’ll do my best.

At its heart, isn’t politics supposed to be about making life better for people? Conservatives have a pragmatic streak and, knowing that socialist utopianism and fanciful ‘grand plans’ are undeliverable, wouldn’t wish to be defined by what we don’t believe.

So, without any philosophical definition of what it is to be a Conservative, and no dogma to fall back on, a belief in a free society is a good start. Conservatives also believe in traditional social institutions, stability, and continuity across the years and have developed a robust code of ethics: we should all have certain moral standards and then stick to them. These views, formed over many years, help us to make sense of an increasingly complex world.

A belief in a strong society, and not the state, and a mistrust of wasteful government spending can see Conservatives being portrayed as mean: a small child who screams for an ice-cream before finishing their broccoli thinks its parents unkind, but this is simply laying the groundwork for a better future. Could it be that those who paint Conservative as harsh never ate their vegetables?

Conservatives accept the principle of private property, and value community and social harmony over unrelenting social reforms: in my ward of Hangleton and Knoll there is a strong community spirit and I always do my very best to nurture this where I can. A proposed education program that sounds perfect but doesn’t help children learn is not good. If something isn’t working I am quick to call a halt to any ongoing waste.

Conservatives don’t believe in state control: we would rather set people free, encouraging hard work and responding to economic incentives. Conservatives believe every human being has great potential and, although not everybody can be Brian Cox or Richard Branson, they can be good at something. Conservatives believe that everyone, no matter their race, gender, sex or religion, has that potential to be something special. That ultimately is a message of hope and optimism.

Tony Janio is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton & Hove City Council.