I haven't always considered myself political. My left-wing students' union did its best to put me off politics and it was only when I started to pay tax that I began to start thinking seriously about being a tax-payer and what that really means. I had a read of the political manifestos, followed the parties in practice, began to socialise in Westminster and quickly learnt my views belonged with the centre-right.
Being a young Conservative isn't easy. Churchill so famously said, "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative when you're 40, you have no head"; I'm not sure his immortal words have done us much justice today. I've often been told I'm "too nice to be a Tory" (perhaps most shockingly because I'm not that nice...) but it's an insult that permeates the whole party. This damaging, dangerous "Nasty Party" rhetoric is arguably the opposition's strongest attack.
But it is unfounded. The idiom, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime," sums up my reasoning for being a Conservative in its purest form. I believe that the job of the state is to help people help themselves and support those who cannot, and nothing horrifies me more than a lifetime of government dependency. A party that helps those get in to work and make a success of themselves will always get my vote.
My father taught me the value of hard work and my mother the trait that nobody is better than you are. Nothing in life worth having comes for free, and I want to live in a nation governed by a party that believes in aspiration over expectation and diligence over dependency.
It is through meeting Conservatives that I have found my place in the party, but I do not feel that we do enough to speak to young people. The party is still yet to shake off its "for the rich" status and there is not enough education around precisely what is being done to help those that need it the most. The vast majority of young people I meet today are hard working, fiscally conservative and socially liberal and it is mind-blowing that the Conservatives aren't resonating greatly with the major decision-makers of the future.
If believing in hard work and personal freedom makes me evil, I will happily stand by the abuse I (frequently) get. This is why I am backing blue in this election, and I hope you do too.