They say a leopard never changes it’s spots, but it’s clear over the last twelve months that David Cameron and the Conservative party have set about changing the way they think, act and formulate policy to respond to the needs of a modern Britain.
For years, I was a member of the Liberal Democrats, and represented them both locally as a councillor, and nationally when I stood as a candidate in the general election.
A few months ago, after a great deal of considered thought, I took the decision to ‘cross the floor’ and join the Conservative party.
I had become increasingly disenfranchised with the Liberal Democrats and in particular with the leader, Ming Campbell.
It became clear to me after the general election that the Liberal Democrats really were trying to be all things to all people (something they’ve since admitted), and policy lacked clarity, thought and substance.
It also became clear under Ming’s leadership, that things could only get worse and so I started to explore whether things really were changing in the Conservative party, or, whether it was all spin by a media increasingly fed up with Labour.
After lots of meetings with some very senior people from the Conservatives, it soon became clear to me that the changes David Cameroon has set about making are sincere, substantive and above all relate to the hopes and aspirations of many in our country.
The passion and enthusiasm to change the party is genuine and infectious and it is clear that the party is working flat out to win back every vote, in the hope of victory at the next general election.
As someone who played an active part in ‘gay’ politics in the Liberal Democrats, I was acutely aware of the party’ s history and reputation on gay issues and indeed the way the party has historically been viewed by many in the community.
I would not dream of making excuses for what has happened in the past, but am reassured that David Cameron will ensure we don’t go back to the dark days of Section 28 and inequality.
Indeed, it is the responsibility of people like me to make sure the party is aware of the issues affecting our community and ensure we respond in an appropriate way.
So next time you’re heading for the polling station, remember that the Conservative party reflects the values of tolerance, diversity and hope and that the party is increasingly viewed by many gay people as a comfortable place to be!
Richard Porter is a former LibDem councillor in the London Borough of Southwark. He defected to the Conservative party in December 2006.