Connor Donnithorne is the Regional Chairman of the South West for the Conservative Future. He has met the Prime Minister, spoken for American conservative organisations in Washington D.C. and for the Conservative Party at several conferences and meetings. He is in his first year of study in his Law degree at Bristol; as a political commentator he can be heard on Burst Radio, Bristol University’s student radio station. In an online interview he answers some questions put to him by The Yorker‘s Comment and Politics Editor Jack Harvey.
What result at the General Election do you predict?
I think that we’re going to see the Conservative Party win the most seats in the House of Commons, and I hope that pushes over into a majority government, as I think that that is what the country needs right now. But the result of the election is unpredictable, the most unpredictable it has been in decades. I don’t want to make any blind or inaccurate predictions but I am confident that the Conservatives will win a majority in May.
What would be the worst thing to happen at the General Election?
Growing up I always thought it would be just a Labour government, but we don’t have that in this case. The Labour Party, under Ed Miliband and the failed socialists on the front bench, are that incompetent that they can’t even win by their own appeal. We fear having the people who want to bankrupt this country in government with the people who want to split up this country and take away its nuclear capabilities; Ed Miliband knows that he can only get into Downing Street on the coattails of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. If that isn’t terrifying enough, put Natalie Bennett in government alongside them!
Overall, has this government been successful?
Yes! We have halved the deficit in proportion to our GDP; we have the fastest-growing economy on the continent; there are two million people now back in work; we have fewer people claiming unemployment benefit; more schools rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted; we have a Prime Minister who stands up to trade unions organising strikes, fighting for British interests in the EU and showing Britain’s strength at the G7, G8, G20 and NATO.
Who in your opinion won the recent Leaders’ Debate?
David Cameron put in the strongest performance, showing he is a tough, competent Prime Minister. I would add that Nicola Sturgeon gave a good performance, highlighting that the Labour Party is perceived to be incompetent and unelectable, in what was once a Labour stronghold. Nigel Farage brought up immigration in every conversation, and the other leaders of the minor parties were very weak in the debate. At the end of the day, this debate was really a head-to-head between David Cameron and Ed Miliband over who shall be in Downing Street, and it was absolutely clear that David Cameron was the one who was strong and competent in answering the questions, looking like a statesman as he did so.
After the Labour Party, what is the strongest party in opposition to the Conservatives?
I don’t think there are any other parties beside Labour that genuinely threaten the Conservatives, nor pose a credible challenge or alternative to their economic plan and other policies; but if I had to pick a party, I would say it is UKIP. UKIP can only help Labour get into Downing Street, by splitting the Right. Nigel Farage wants a European referendum as soon as possible, and to do that he needs another three hundred or so more MPs – of course he knows that this is impossible! The only way he can get what he wants is making sure that David Cameron is serving as Prime Minister after the General Election. Farage is instead just taking conservative votes away from our party.
The NHS is a huge concern of the public. How should the NHS be funded and preserved as a public service?
The NHS is one of the most loved institutions in this country, and it’s important that, whatever your circumstances, whatever the balance of your bank account, any British citizen should have the right to free healthcare. Who would turn to a system in which you have to get your credit card out as the ambulance appears, to check you can pay for the service? But throwing money at the NHS won’t solve anything. Middle management and bureaucracy needs to be reduced. Yes, money needs to go in, but other things need to be considered – extending GPs’ hours to seven days a week, for example. I don’t care, unlike the leaders of the left-leaning parties, whether it’s a state or private contractor providing healthcare – as long as it is free at the point of need and delivery for people in this country, and the quality of healthcare is good.
If you were in government, how would you answer the concerns of students in the United Kingdom?
I think that students’ main concern is finding a job after finishing their degree and leaving university in debt. But, as a Law undergraduate myself, I think it’s right that, if we are to get the benefit of a degree, we pay for that degree. It’s fairer now than it’s ever been with the payback system implemented by the current government. Students are keen to find a job after their degree, and this will only be under a government that is business- and job-friendly. The only business- and job-friendly party on the scene is the Conservative Party. If you don’t believe me, look at the record: two million new apprenticeships, two million new private sector jobs… much better than the record left by the previous government. I would also keep zero-hours contracts. As a student myself I understand student money problems and I know how many students look for work in seasons to earn money to help pay their bills. Non-exploitative zero-hours contracts are often an essential first step for young people onto the job market, because it allows the flexibility of working hours for a young person.
Why is this election the most important in a generation?
Five years ago our budget deficit was at the same levels as that of Greece, or Spain, or Portugal. Our debt is getting bigger, our government is too big. But Britain is going back on track, and the economy is moving again. However, all of that could be put at risk by an incompetent opposition leader and his party, who don’t know anything about business or job creation, becoming the government of this country. We’re at the crossroads, but I think the choice at this election is so very clear.