Julian Brazier TD is the Conservative MP for Canterbury and Whitstable and a member of the Defence Select Committee. He was first elected to Parliament in 1987.
In deciding to become a Conservative student you’re getting involved in one of the best training grounds open to young people. It may be tough at times to identify as a Conservative on campus – after all, you do stand out from the crowd! But it is important for student Conservatives to become involved in the political process for a few good reasons.
Being part of the solution
In politics, you can either observe problems from the sidelines or you can stand up and offer an alternative solution. Getting involved in university politics is the best way to learn how to push for changes from the drafting stage to implementation. If you decide to become involved in politics after you leave university – be it through your local party, council or in Parliament – you will have a much better idea about what you should expect from your elected representatives, how to keep them accountable, and how you can assist your local Conservative candidates deliver better results for our communities.
The Conservative argument must be made
While you’re at university you have the opportunity to stay true to your values and learn how to expand your arguments. You will have no doubt heard of the age old adage about being a Socialist at 20 and Conservative at 40. You should remember this because you have made your choice when it was hardest. History has shown repeatedly that the short-sighted decisions of those on the left are of no comparison to the free minds, free markets and understanding of traditional institutions found on the right of the spectrum. University may sometimes seem a lonely place for a Conservative. But many students are Conservative – and, it’s important that you work together because you cannot allow the left to have uncontested control over academia. Politics is the battle of ideas – and you are on the front line of where many political ideas are born.
Campaigning is fun
Even if you don’t aspire to be the next Prime Minister or Chancellor of the Exchequer, you will find your campus political involvement rewarding. It’s a fantastic training ground for managing and organising successful campaigns, which can prove helpful in your future career – even if you have no intention of working in professional politics. Additionally, as we approach a 2015 general election which will be hotly contested and where every vote will count, we need ways to reach out to younger voters and connect with them. Flying the flag for the Conservative Party will help attract more university students to vote the right way.
You’ll meet great people
And not just MPs and Ministers. Sticking up posters and being on the same side of an argument lends itself to making great friends who will still be in your life in ten or 20 years time. Few other graduates will leave university with such an impressive network of contacts as a Conservative student.
I’ve always been impressed with the calibre of students who become involved in Conservative Associations and on campus. You have a lot of work to do but remember that it is always greatly appreciated by those of us who sit on the Government benches in Westminster.