Liam Rhodes is a conservative blogger and social media communicator…During a recent spate of discussions and arguments on Twitter about his personal politics and definition of conservatism in the age of the Coalition.
I offered to ask Liam some questions following on from these discussions. This is what came from the questions…
You can find me on Twitter @doktorb, or Liam at @LiamRhodes.
So, Liam, thanks for this, for those who may not have seen you on Twitter before now, it may be best if we just find out a little about you…..
Well, I’m 21. I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party since 2005. I sought election in a difficult ward as a borough councillor in 2010. I’m also the blogger behind http://www.onenationtory.com.
…Good, right, on Twitter you have been taking part in a continuing discussion about whether you are a “capital C” Conservative. How would you describe yourself ?
I’m a liberal one nation Conservative. I have always been a liberal, one nation Conservative.
That is, I am a small ‘c’ Conservative. I believe in Government providing both a ladder and a safety net whilst the State is smaller than it was in the Labour years to make room for private sector, sustainable growth. I also believe that the State should leave people alone and let them get on with their lives. I am an advocate of equal rights – but also free speech.
One recent tweet from you said you had become more progressive over the years, how would you describe this process?
A very painful personal journey for me resulted in the anti-progressivism to begin with. It’s a difficult question for me to answer.
Did the Coalition agreement change your opinion specifically? Or was this a process already in motion before the election?
I support the coalition because it is first and foremost in the national interest, and I believe it is where the Conservative Party has an opportunity to further change.
Would defecting away from the Conservative Party ever be an option for you? What are your opinions of people who do defect parties?
Not unless the Conservative Party took a big turn to the right. My opinions of people who defect are not negative; I understand that in some circumstances, people’s hearts change.
In terms of specific policies, the Coalition are accused of slashing spending on public services at the least appropriate time. Are you concerned by the cuts to public services?
I put my faith in the Coalition to protect the front-line services and the most vulnerable.
To what degree is the current Council Tax scheme “fair” ?
I believe Council Tax system is fair because it is progressive in the sense that older people pay less and people who live alone get a discount.
At what level should, for example, Child Tax Credits or Child Benefits be cut? Are you afraid the Labour Government spent too much on such benefits, or is “too much” not a problem when dealing with child and family welfare?
I believe Child Tax Credits and benefits should be means-tested further, and I am disheartened by the fact that we didn’t act on this when we had the opportunity. I am very concerned that Labour created a means of Statism whereby people felt they were dependent on the State. They favour State dependence because it results in more votes for them – and they believe in a large State.
Instead of handing out these forms of benefits, it makes much more sense to me to cut tax.
Should there be an English Parliament?
No. I simply don’t believe we need one. It would cost a heck of a lot and there is no added value to balance that cost.
What is a “living wage” in your opinion?
I would support an increase in the minimum wage to £6 with inflation, but not during the current economic climate. I would never support a ‘living wage’ because it would result in economic failure. No business will employ some unskilled workers for £7 or more per hour. It’s simply unsustainable.
Which former British Prime Minister do you most admire?
Margaret Thatcher. Not because of her social Conservatism – far from it. Because she fought for what she believed in and she saved the British economy from turmoil.
And finally…..What is it about Twitter you like so much?
I like the fact that you can be in contact people who share common interests. I certainly don’t like it when things get personal. For example, I’ve just been called ‘arrogant’. Oh well!
((This interview was carried out by email. Questions and responses have been re-ordered and edited for space))