My dad was a Conservative voting vicar before he retired and before he was a vicar he was a businessman. We grew up on a leafy road in Cheshire and my childhood was wonderful. They sent me to a private school and that meant spending money was tight so clothes often came from a jumble sale and holidays were spent camping in Anglesey, but the days were golden. My mum and dad taught me to listen and to learn and I did. I played my flute, I was good at painting, I respected my elders and knew how to behave in the world. Eventually I gained a degree in fashion, this was probably a reaction to the jumble sale frocks.
I went on to work as a fashion buyer in London, got married to a feisty bloke with a PhD. He is a little bit like my dad, with a real strength of conviction only his is left wing. Maybe this is Freud Again. Then in 2006 I had my first baby and my world fell apart. She’d been born missing some small but vital bits of DNA meaning she had a lifelong disability called Williams Syndrome. HANG ON, my kid was supposed to be a doctor or a vet or a dentist or a fashion buyer like me. Now you’re telling me she has learning difficulties, a low IQ, and loads of medical issues too. STOP. Please stop.
Anyway, I behaved in a way Esther McVey would be proud of. After grieving for my perfect child I rallied-up: Come on Deb, leave your job, control your time, set up a business, manufacture clothes in the UK, let’s get BRITAIN working again (or whatever other horrible sound bites the politicians use) and be successful. Teach your daughter to reach her full potential and fight it. I did all of that, it has been a struggle at times but I’m still doing it now.
So why the hell aren’t I a Daily Mail reading Conservative voter? Well, you remember I mentioned my dad was a vicar…..well, although his politics passed me by he taught me something fundamentally important. He taught me to be kind, to look after people, to fight for them. He taught me that not everyone had my opportunities, he taught me to make the best of the opportunities that I had and my goodness I’d had them in abundance. I had an amazing childhood with huge support and it’s why I’m able to “make it” in the world. That’s what made me who I am. I worked extremely hard, but I was raised that way. I went to the best school, my mum and dad didn’t split up, I wasn’t disabled, my siblings weren’t either, my mum didn’t get sick, I didn’t get depression in fact I laughed a lot because I was happy and that meant that people liked me, that in turn built my confidence. I did well because of the support I had from my wonderful family and friends.
So what of me in another life? What about someone born like me who had an abusive father or an alcoholic mother, what about the childhood where there was nowhere safe to play because it was in the city and the big kids did drugs in the park, where money was tight and sometimes, often, dinner was missed. Where the jumble sale clothes were rarely washed because there wasn’t enough money for the electricity meter. The low esteem, the belief that you’d never amount to anything, the premature maybe unwanted pregnancy and the continuation of the cycle. Now, I’m not saying that everyone born into bad circumstances does the same, far from it, many succeed despite the hand that they’ve been dealt and they are truly amazing. Some need more of a leg-up…..or perhaps more of an arm around their shoulder.
Perhaps my writing and my scenarios are simplistic, but my point highlights a fundamental difference – one that makes me a Labour voter and not a Conservative one. I cannot sit and watch the coalition demonise people who have had an awful time, taking away their benefits with rhetoric about scrounging and skiving. I will not listen to that. Most people on benefits are in receipt of “in work” benefits and are working extremely hard to provide for their families, others are simply unable to work.
On top of this my own child’s future haunts me because she is disabled and will need care and support for the rest of her life. Maybe that’s selfish, but it’s not just her future is it? In fact she is one of the lucky ones, she has me and Darren to fight her corner, to make things alright for her and we’re good at fighting. It’s all of the other kids with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds, dealing day-to-day with things that kids shouldn’t be dealing with, who need building up. Fighting for them drives me and it drives my support of my husband Darren as he stands for Labour in Congleton at the general election.
Congleton is a lovely leafy constituency just to the south of the one I grew up in. Most people there and about do okay and tend to vote Conservative. I wonder if they could just stop for a second and think about how they’d feel if something bad in life happened to one of their family, who would they want to look after them, who would they trust with the NHS for instance? Just think for a minute. I believe that if you ever find yourself in difficulty and need some help the only Government that would help you is a Labour one. Yes, people are disillusioned with politics, with good reason too and the Labour Party isn’t perfect but it is fighting the right battles and is on the side of fairness and equality. That’s why I’ll be voting Labour on May 7th.
(As for my dad, now he’s a Conservative voting retired vicar, but as they live in Poynton he won’t have the dilemma of whether to vote for Darren or not. It’s probably best that way.)
Deborah Price x
Proud wife, mother and businesswoman.