Spotlight On… Surrey CF
As Gossip Tory’s South East I shall be delving a little deeper into CF and Conservatism in the region. My first Spotlight on the South East article focuses on Surrey, my home county.
Surrey is home to two newly formed and innovative CF branches: Guildford; and Mole Valley, Epsom & Ewell. Here I chat to their chairmen, Liam Randall (LR) and Ross Butcher (RB) respectively. But first, a bit of background…
At only nineteen Liam Randall comes across as a mature, charismatic and friendly guy – a nice change from the arrogance and self-importance that I find is unfortunately so common in Conservative Future. Liam joined the Army Cadets when he was fifteen and worked his way up to become the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Surrey. In Liam’s last year of secondary school he took charge of the Young Enterprise team, at a time when it was close to failure. This, along with his Army experience, has made him a natural leader. He has also undertaken volunteering in Lesotho, home of Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale. Liam will be starting a Politics degree at Royal Holloway this autumn. Liam founded Guildford CF in March of this year and, after a few months, it was named Branch of the Week by Ben Howlett.
Ross Butcher has openly admitted that many Conservatives don’t see him as a typical Tory. This can only be a good thing. The Party as a whole needs to diversify to reach out to more people and, under Ross’ leadership, MVEECF has started to do this. Since Ross took over in February 2012 the branch has been called the “most digital” in the South East after the addition of its blog and was named Branch of the Week by Ben Howlett for its “excellent PR & Comms”. For the past 12 years Ross has worked in retail, more recently for one of the world’s largest mobile phone operators. MVEECF had its first official event earlier this month and one of its promises is that profits from events will go to supporting CF-age candidates in local elections.
When did you join the Conservative Party and why?
LR: I joined the party because I love its history, its love for freedom and the core value of aspiration which really means a lot to me.
RB: I’m a Conservative because I have always believed in individual responsibility, free markets, reduction of the state and traditional values and standards. In 2004, when Michael Howard was leader, I finally decided to join. He made the party feel more accessible and more organised.
Why did you decide to run a Conservative Future branch?
LR: I wanted and still want to get more young people involved in politics. Making politics more appealing is a must and it can be done!
RB: I felt I could bring something different to CF. I remember pre-2004 not knowing how to join and I want to reach out to all those who were like me. I also think there is a huge challenge in trying to get young people to understand the link between issues they care about and politics.
Do you have any political career aspirations?
LR: To be honest with you I have always wanted to join the Army but I do love politics and will not rule out going into it.
RB: I did have a desire to be in front line politics, now I’d love the chance to do something behind the scenes, like Malcolm Tucker.
Have you ever stood in local elections? If so, when? If not, would you consider it?
LR: I haven’t. Mainly because I believe I need to gain more life experience first but I think we need more young people in local politics.
RB: Yes, 2011 local elections. It was a lot of hard work but great fun. It gave a real insight to campaigning.
Who would you pick as leader of the Conservative Party, and why?
LR: Thatcher, fantastic woman who was a real leader. Cameron was left with a political and economic nightmare, and it takes real guts to lead that.
RB: I originally backed Liam Fox for leader in 2005. I think recent events would make that very difficult so my choice would probably be William Hague.
If you could fire one member of the Cabinet, who would it be, and why?
LR: Cable. Speaks out of turn, attacks the government and is a Lib Dem.
RB: If we are talking Lib Dems then it has to be Vince. He is a massive … socialist. If it had to be a Tory then I think the obvious choice is Ken Clarke.
If you were elected as Prime Minister tomorrow what would be your first action?
LR: Make a national holiday “Britain Day” to celebrate our rich culture and history. Under Labour we were told to feel ashamed of our national identity and that is wrong.
RB: I would ensure that every single policy is linked to responsibility. I wouldn’t allow a single act to be passed that undermines people being able to make the right choices for themselves and their family.
Can we win in 2015?
LR: Inflation down, deficit down and unemployment down; the government plan is working. If people know that then we will win.
RB: We face a huge challenge. As it stands I think it is exceptionally unlikely we will win a majority but we must work hard to communicate the damaging impact on society Labour had in government, be proud of what we’ve achieved, unite the right and we must offer a referendum on Europe. That could be key.
Both Guildford CF and MVEECF have newly created websites, the addresses for which are at the end of this article. Details of these branches’ next events can be found here and also on Twitter and Facebook.
If you run a CF branch in the South East or hold another prominent position in the region and would like to face a grilling from me please email me and I’ll send you some questions.
Contact Guildford CF:
Contact Mole Valley, Epsom & Ewell CF: