“Last week the British people made clear how much they value our freedom. Freedom that was forged in the heat of our history, snatched from the hands of tyrants and defended against dictators. It is, and remains, our most precious asset. We should never forget that we live in a special country. It is time to feel special again.” – Dr Liam Fox MP, 30th June 2016
The first time I met Liam Fox – in 2013, at an event where he was promoting his book Rising Tides – I was not expecting to be impressed. I had been influenced by the media furore around that resignation a couple of years before, and to be honest, I was a bit of a non-interventionist when it came to security and considered Fox to be too hawkish (I have since grown up).
But Dr Fox stood up and spoke with depth, substantial knowledge, and real eloquence about international security, geopolitics, and the changing balance of powers in the world.
The following year Fox spoke at Conservatives for Liberty’s first event at Conservative Party Conference – Freedom Fizz – where he said: “Conservatism is synonymous with liberty. If the Conservatives are not the party of liberty, we are nothing.” As both a Conservative and a libertarian, I couldn’t agree more.
In the intervening years I have been impressed time and again as I have heard Dr Fox fight for the Union and against the EU, speak out for inter-generational fairness and our British values, question post-recession monetary policy and the risks it creates, and make thoughtful comments about issues such as mental health provision in the NHS.
Liam Fox represents my kind of Conservativism. He takes good, solid, enduring values and applies them to the modern world in clever and original ways.
I identify with him in another way, too. Liam does not represent that kind of background Conservertism has come to be associated with. Instead, he grew up in a council house on a Lanarkshire estate and attended the country’s largest comprehensive school. From that humble beginning he worked hard – training to be a doctor, and gaining experience of the real world as a hospital doctor and GP before entering parliament. For ordinary people – people like me – this background is refreshing and inspiring.
And so when the Prime Minister resigned on Friday, there was one name on my lips: Dr Liam Fox. Fox ticks all of the boxes for me. He is a confirmed eurosceptic and campaigned for Leave. He has senior level experience, but is not a Cameroon. Most importantly, Liam Fox believes in something: he has an established, coherent value system.
Like all politics geeks, every now and then I look back on Conservative politicians of old – reading or watching old speeches and statements and marvelling at the confidence they had in their values, and the sense of purpose that came from it.
Not since I joined the Conservative Party in 2005 has any senior politician spoken to these values – until Thursday afternoon, when Dr Fox delivered a speech to mark the launch of his campaign. I urge you to read his speech in full, in which he outlines guiding principles, plans for Brexit and some exciting policies.
The person we select as our party leader and the UK’s Prime Minister will lead our country through turbulent and challenging times. But these challenges also represent an enormous opportunity to set the country’s course for decades to come. I believe we have the best chance with real, fundamental Conservative values – and that is what Dr Liam Fox offers us. Along with a coherent, consistent plan for the future, and the knowledge and experience needed to deliver it.
*These are the views of Emily Barley and do not represent the corporate view of CWF.
Emily is Chairman of Conservatives for Liberty, a campaign group which believes free markets, small government and low taxes create the greatest prosperity for all people. Emily is a freelance project manager specialising in digital publishing and communications strategy.