A letter to a nineteen year old me

Cllr. Richard Harris is an Erewash Borough Councillor and the Disabilities Spokesman for Parliament Street. He is also a passionate Conservative.


Ten years ago I was on the verge of turning twenty years of age. I was struggling through my second year at University and as a Disabled student was wondering what life had in store for me. 2007 was three years before the end of New Labour; three years before the end of the Blair/Brown years and three years before the reincarnation of electable Conservatism under David Cameron. It had been thirteen long years of Labour Party rule. More of my life time had been spent under Labour rule than under Conservative after I was born under a Conservative government.

I had voted in one general election and one local election. Instinctively I had voted Conservative my family were split, my paternal family were descended from Merseyside and naturally were leftward voting, my maternal family were ancestrally also leftward voting but my Grandparents were Tory voters. My parents both voted Tory and I had been brought up in a well to do working class family.

The following paragraphs are an open letter to a 19/20 year old me; 10 years ago.


Dear Richard;

Although you may not think it now, in two years time your life is going to change ridiculously. Politics may seem like a chore that you have to live with at the moment but believe me, it will grab you and turn your life around. You may be struggling through phase 1 re-takes as a part time student now but transferring to the Joint Honours Scheme was an inspired decision. After all, countless Prime Ministers have had Joint Honours Degrees. Next year you will take office as Disabled Students’ Officer with the Students’ Union. This will be your first step into politics.

You will join the Conservative Party in 2009, mainly as a reaction to the authoritarian left of NUS telling you what you believe in the tuition fees row, although you always believed in Conservatism and you have always been a Thatcherite at heart.

Besides a show of defiance and rebellion against Wes Streeting, who will later become an MP; your Conservative values stem from your days at sixth form where a socialist teacher unwittingly instilled values of hard work, determination and meritocracy within you. You will credit Jeremy Long for years to come as the socialist who turned you into a Tory.

It is your Conservative values such as hard work; determination; meritocracy and aspiration that will get you through your degree and give you that start in life. Life as a Conservative student can be difficult and you will get a fair amount of ridicule in the next few years but believe it or not you will earn the respect of your opponents. They will tell you that it’s impossible to be a liberation officer and a Tory, but actually you are a Tory because you are a libertarian officer.

My message to you now is to keep going and to keep championing the Conservative cause. It will serve you well. In 2011, you will be out of work and unable to support yourself and eventually (2013)  it will be a Conservative initiative that finds you work. In 2011 you will fight your first Council Election and in 2015 you will become a Councillor.

British politics is a bizarre world. It’s a fascinating scene of media control and controversy. Oddly, you will become a master of the art of voter communication, despite being severely dyslexic. In 2017, there will be snap election within weeks of a County elections; despite going in with a massive lead, there will be a Conservative minority government; British independence propped up by the Irish unionists.

As I write this I am chief whip of the Conservative Group on Erewash Borough Council, Chairman of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee and an experienced candidate and agent.

Being Dyspraxic and Dyslexic may hold some people back but I’m telling you now, it will propel you to great things because you are determined.

Keep at it and you’ll go far.


Cllr Richard Harris BSc (Hons)


A week is a long time in politics; but over the last eight years Politics has changed my life. I have been a Conservative voter for 12 years; a Conservative Party member for 8 years and a Conservative Councillor for two years. Politics became my safe space and if if weren’t dyspraxic and dyslexic; I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be a Councillor and I wouldn’t be as successful as I am. My message starts and ends with hard work; determination and meritocracy.