Babyfaced CFers Making Their Mark
I have often been accused of having a babyface. While I do look young for my age (or so I’ve been told!) it has come to my attention that there are others within the CF movement that are more deserving of the “babyface” title.
Most of my CF friends joined the Party round about the time that they finished school or started university but now more and more school-aged teenagers are getting actively involved in Conservative Future.
Here in Surrey, two CF branches have leading committee members who are 16. Here I chat to them to find out what it’s like running a CF branch while not being able to have a drink after a tough day!
Paloma Vince (PV) is the Chair of Surrey Heath Conservative Future, which was set up by her in February. Since then the branch has held several meetings, debates and social events including a Social Action litter pick. Apart from CF, Paloma enjoys reading and helping in her local church, as well as refereeing youth football.
Thomas Collins (TC) is the Vice Chair (Political & Campaigning) at Horley Conservative Future. He is currently studying for A-Levels at St Bede’s School in Redhill after recently completing his GCSEs there. He has been in his current CF role since February. Thomas sees himself as a somewhat eurosceptic Tory with a keen interest in national politics.
How old were you when you joined the Conservative Future? Why did you join?
PV: I was 15 when I was asked to set up Conservative Future. I’d been a teller at the last general election and wanted to get more involved in politics.
TC: I was 15 when I joined my branch last September. I joined because of my interest in the last general election and I wanted to get involved in politics.
What made you decide to get involved in running a CF branch?
PV: I was Managing Director of a Young Enterprise team and thoroughly enjoyed that- so I jumped at the chance to run a political group.
TC: As my branch was set up when I joined, I was asked by the person who ran the branch to be the Vice-Chair of it and this would enable me to get involved in the branch and the organisation of it.
Do you ever get intimidated by the fact that many CF members are significantly older than you?
PV: Sometimes, when I realise how relatively inexperienced I am but I have been so happy with how welcoming older CF members are. I barely notice the age difference most of the time!
TC: We all have something in common as members of CF, and the majority of people I’ve met are welcomed to discussion, also because of my height people seem to think I’m older than I am!
Who is your political inspiration, and why?
PV: My two greatest political inspirations are Margaret Thatcher and Ann Widdecombe- because of their courage and integrity respectively.
TC: Winston Churchill, due to his work as PM in such a difficult period of time. I’m also inspired by Daniel Hannan MEP because he has courage in what he says and he also has a very similar ideology to me.
What’s your take on Cameron’s first major Cabinet reshuffle?
PV: I certainly think it was a necessary move to the right for the Tory party to strengthen their appeal to their supports- especially at this time of Euro-scepticism.
TC: I’m pleased that Grant Shapps has been made Party Chair as I believe he is the man that can convince people to vote for us, so we can win in 2015.
What are your career plans?
PV: I’m currently studying Maths, Economics, History and RS, and I hope to read PPE at Uni. I would like to stand as a councillor then, when I’m older and more experienced, as an MP.
TC: I’m currently studying Maths, Business Studies, History, Government & Politics and Critical Thinking. I want to do Economics at University and hopefully after a job involving it, I will become an MP.
Apart from CF, what are your other interests?
PV: I love public speaking and was thrilled to have the opportunity to give a sermon at my church. I love sharing my passions others by tutoring or working with children through church.
TC: I’m Vice-Chairman of my local Youth Council and that involves me representing young people in the borough. I also play lawn bowls in my spare time (hopefully this will enable me to attract the older age vote!) and I play a bit of guitar.
I think it’s fantastic that under 18s are getting actively involved with CF, let alone running their own branches! CF as a movement should definitely try and focus more attention on recruiting members who have not yet left school and college.
Having met both Paloma and Thomas I’m sure that they will go far within CF nationally given that they both have well over a decade left to make their mark.