I thought I’d introduce myself as the Access to Elected Office Intern who is dealing with the Scottish Conservatives. It is a great privilege to be involved with the project and to be in such a great team of people who are all passionate about making a positive difference.
Involvement with politics
I grew up in a working class family whose politics lay within the traditional “old” Labour style of left wing politics. From a young age I remember having debates with my family on all sorts of issues ranging from Europe to education. My enthusiasm for politics grew whilst I was at High School in Fife and I thank my former Headteacher for encouraging me with my political passion. When I was identified as being on the Autism Spectrum I decided that I wanted to do what I could to help others with the condition. It was invaluable attending support groups and finding out how others were coping with their autism and the difficulties and successes that they were having. When I was 18 I joined the Labour Party and got involved with the local constituency branch. I attended a few of the Scottish conferences and whilst studying at Stirling University was the Chair of the Labour society there. I got to meet a lot of good people however there were times when I did find student politics stressful. It was during my last year of university that I found myself questioning my political beliefs. Was I truly Labour? I found myself starting to lean towards the Conservatives.
After I graduated from University I was accepted onto the Speakers Parliamentary Placement Scheme where I was a Parliamentary Assistant to the Rt Hon. Hazel Blears (now former MP and former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.) Working for a senior Labour MP was a fantastic experience. It was hard work but I learned a lot about how an MP works. It was a privilege to prepare briefing notes, write speeches, deal with emails and help with other tasks in the office. I was very lucky that I was able to organise an autism awareness event in Parliament in March 2013 and was honoured that Mr. Speaker, the Rt Hon. John Bercow MP accepted an invitation to speak at it. During my time in London I also met a lot of people from a variety of political persuasions. I was able to attend receptions and events too. This all enriched my understanding of politics and where I truly stood on the political front.
Just before I left the internship in Westminster and after a long time reflecting and reading I made the move to leave Labour and join the Conservatives. Was it an easy decision? No but it was one of the best decisions I have made. It is important that people are true to themselves both personally and politically and this decision meant that I could be true to my political self. The Conservatives were the only party for those, like me, who are aspirational and who wanted to get on life. I did get stick for making the move to the Tories and I did lose some friends but my true, genuine friends stayed with me. I am enjoying my time in the Conservative Party and have made friends with some fantastic people. I have attended a few party conferences now and these have all been great. I hope one day to stand as a Conservative Parliamentary in Scotland but preferably in rural England.
Well that was a little bit about my political journey and now to say something about myself. I was identified as being on the Autism Spectrum when I was 15 and was diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome at the age of 18. I do not and never will regret being autistic. It is part of who I am. Having Aspergers has been challenging. Socialising and communicating can be very hard but I’m getting better as I get older. I struggled to make friends when I was younger but thanks to the world politics and music I have made friends with some of the best people around. I am grateful to them for all their support. It is not the quantity of friends that matter but the quality. Having Aspergers Syndrome can make me anxious and mentally I can be turbulent. How my friends and family put up with me I do not know! I am highly driven, have a good work ethic and like very high standards. I am grounded though and do not carried away when I do have a taste of success. I also find it hard to relax and that can be a problem. Anxiety is an issue but keeping calm and positive helps. However, I would not change who I am for anything. I regard my Aspergers in a positive way. My condition will not be barrier to me leading a successful life nor finding an elegant and intellectual lady one day. I am also very lucky to have some great supporters in my life from the world of politics and music and I take inspiration from people such as the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Adele, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela etc. Having positive role models to look up to has really helped me.
Away from autism, I am a fiddle player and love traditional music. I also have a passion for classical and jazz music. I’m also passionate about modern British history, steam trains, reading ,walking and wine. I also love the countryside. My family own a small farm where we grow vegetables, keep a Clydesdale horse and keep hens. We also have an old vintage tractor. Being out in the fresh country air makes me truly relax and I am at my happiest there. My aim over the next few years is to move to England permanently and settle down there and to record a CD to raise funds for some charities which are close to my heart. I also hope to start my own autism consultancy business with a focus on helping people with Aspergers Syndrome develop their potential and learn new leadership and life skills etc. I also want to do what I can to try and help Scotland and the United Kingdom become a more autism friendly place in which to live and work in.