I was happy to hear that the Conservatives had won the Copeland by-election. Mostly, because I am a Conservative supporter.
But anyone who's read my incoherent warbling online will be aware that I subscribe to a particular string of conservatism that's left of many others. I'd probably go so far as to call myself a Libertarian Conservative - if that's possible.
You may also know that I am not afraid to call out my party when I think it's got things wrong. I also think that more people should be doing the same in their own tribes.
Last week the House of Commons debated the 'Dubs Scheme'. A modern day Kindertransport, the scheme promised to take in thousands of unaccompanied refugee children and to give them care and protection in the UK. Being one of the richest nations on the planet, it was a very achievable scheme and I was excited to hear about it.
But here is a horrific statistic.
This kind of act points to something that I think needs to happen urgently. More people need to join the Conservative Party.
I have thought, many times over the past few years, that maybe the Conservatives is no-longer the place for me. I would writhe at the racist rhetoric that has entered so much of the party's psyche, I hate its obsession with Brexit to the point of forgetting that running the country involves more than one policy. There are so many things about Conservative Party HQ right now that leave me worried the party has lost its soul.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
A quick Google (or Bing, Yahoo, Lycos, Jeeves) and you'll find that the party has an amazing history of compassion and reform, exemplified in no-one more than William Wilberforce.
Here was an Evangelical Christian who dove into politics and changed this nation for the better. He didn't just loose his health in pursuit of abolishing the slave trade, he also set up the RSPCA, the RNLI. He paid off debts for people, gave more to charity than you'd imagine and used to employ people just for the sake of giving them a job - which almost sounds like the 'Full Employment' dream of socialists everywhere.
This man believed that it was the Government's job to lead society in reform and to make it a better place.
I wonder what this man would make of the Conservative Party now?
Would he be joining in the collective worship of Thatcherism that so many young Conservatives engage in? Would he support the blind hatred of every policy that Labour put forward, regardless of it's good for the country? Would he be promoting that we run towards a Brexit cliff, constructing our wings on the move and hoping they'll work?
Or would he get up in the faces of those who believe that Conservatism is about little more than just 'free market capitalism' and nationalism?
Wilberforce wasn't 'white as snow'. But he was a compassionate man, whose faith drove him to love others.
As a Christian myself, I am constantly reminded of the important commandment Jesus left to us. "love each other as you love yourselves". For many people in politics right now, it would seem that they hate themselves, as they seem to hate 'the others'. For Wilberforce, I wonder if he broke that commandment by loving others more than he loved himself?
According to the House of Commons Library, there are less than 150,000 members in the Conservative Party. Compared to the 500,000+ in Labour. We're also led to believe, from this stats, that membership and 'party identification' is growing in the UK. Though we're well below historic highs.
The problem with a party that has just 150,000 members, yet runs the country, is that it can pretty much do what it wants.
I often wonder if part of Labour's disarray right now is that it's got so much self-searching and debate happening amongst its ranks. It has rebel MPs who are not afraid to lose their jobs and stand up for what they believe is right.
A few Conservative MPs have done this, and I applaud them.
But too many of those making their way up the party ladder, through the usual means and tick-box exercises, are developing a view because the party machine holds a view. Instead of the machine developing their view.
Many many Conservatives would disagree with me.
I want to appeal to you now.
If, like me, you used to believe in what the Conservative Party stood for. If you believe in the preservation of human dignity, self-determination and compassion, then please get involved in party politics.
It's not too late for the Conservative Party to develop a conscience. It's not too late for those in power to hear their members and to do an about turn. It's not too late for us to restart the 'Dub's Scheme'.
But above all, it's not too late for you to join the party and help shape it into something that Wilberforce would be proud to be an MP for. www.conservatives.com/join.
Become a member, demand better.
Believe me, you don't have to think that divisive dog-whistle politics is the way forward to be a member of one of the world's oldest and most successful political parties.Suggest a correction