The Parliamentary Conservative Party has had the biggest injection of new, grassroots, working class members that I can remember in my lifetime. Doctors, teachers, factory workers, farmers, railway workers, police officers and trade unionists.
We oughtn't to have thought that these would only be representatives of northern constituencies. I was born in my hometown of Sherborne here in West Dorset.
I didn’t go to university. My parents are tenant farmers.
Following the BSE and Food and Mouth crises in the 1990s, I looked to pursue a job with the railway; that subsequently became a 20-year career. Beginning as a station assistant and a train guard I progressed into management and senior management before being elected to parliament to serve my fellow constituents in West Dorset.
Following in the steps of my predecessor, Sir Oliver Letwin – a gentleman, but with whom I disagreed on several matters, not least our position on Brexit, is not an easy thing to do. He was a highly-regarded constituency MP by many and I have to admit to being quite nervous about following him. But it is clear to me now after my first month as the new MP, that West Dorset constituents are appreciating the contrast that I bring.
Despite a 51/49% split in the EU referendum here in West Dorset, my home constituency believes importantly in the value of democracy and fulfilling the democratic will of the British people.
My fellow residents here are very proud that one of their own is representing them in Westminster.
Walking down the high street in my home town of Sherborne and randomly being asked for a selfie with some teenagers was a surprise to me. To be invited in for tea three times in one canvassing session in Chickerell was quite something, but for these things to happen to me in the much larger county town of Dorchester over Christmas should tell all of us, as Conservative activists, that something very profound has happened – an ignition of a new political interest throughout the UK after this last general election.
As the lifeblood of the Conservative Party, you, as an activist now have the most brilliant opportunity too.
The response in the streets and on the doorsteps is quite profound at the moment. The enthusiasm for us to do well is there and we now need to reach out and evangelise the Conservative message like we have never done before. We need to encourage new people in who have not realised their political view to evolve and improve by reaching out and welcoming their new talent and new ideas.
Here in West Dorset, we are going to be doing just that and much more to engage young people and their families with our movement in the coming months. If we can take that opportunity, it will mean a renaissance here and for many associations across the country.
There is no time like the present to share this good news, following the election of a fantastic new team of dynamic, grounded MPs with whom their constituents liken themselves.
We want you to be at the forefront of that movement. Together, we can make it happen.
Chris Loder MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for West Dorset