A lot of the old YCs are just completely out of touch - people like Julian Critchley who referred to us standing around and drinking Pimms. That's absolute rubbish. The Young Liberals are much more like how I think the YCs used to be. They are far worse than Young Labour - not the sort of people you would want to have a drink with. They're the types who will walk across to a girl in a bar and say 'Get your handbag - you've scored.'
When I joined my local branch of the YCs in 1987 there were just 12 members and the atmosphere was despondent since we'd just lost our local seat. I was immediately elected as the treasurer and shortly afterwards we staged a coup and got rid of the chairman. We then instigated a good social programme, put all the money we raised into recruitment and suddenly found that our membership had increased. I became National Senior Vice Chairman in 1993.
I'm 24 now and responsible for raising the image of the YCs, presenting us as more trendy. We're not as right-wing as people are saying. The YCs are about young Tories doing well and having a laugh at the same time, so the biggest campaign I'm involved in at the moment is for the deregulation of night club licenses. For me the freedom of choice philosophy is very important, and one of the reasons I joined in 1987. Central Office shouldn't be deciding what time people should stay up until - when I was 16 I used to go straight from nightclubs to work]
My first YC national conference was amazing because there were 2,000 young people all having a good time, including 20 Hell's Angels. There were thousands of good looking girls, but sadly nowadays they tend to be the strings of pearls type, so it's very important to me to make sure that our new image appeals to trendy girls. Every other month we hold clubs or legal raves in the North West, often for more than 1,000 people. I've also allowed The Word to film us at National Conference, which a lot of people felt sceptical about, but we got a big response and lots of new members as a result. We're obviously succeeding in getting the new image across - we are not a bunch of toffee-nosed snotty public school boys at all, we are very normal people. Some YCs are even unemployed.
I've wanted to be an MP since I was 14, but now I'm not so sure since there's no job security. In 1992 I became the youngest councillor in the country and took one of the the safest seats from the Left. It amazed me how many young people came out to support me. Since I have such a high position in the YCs I ensure that the two diaries don't clash. I'm also a governor of a local girls school, one of the best schools in the country.
Being in the YCs has helped me achieve things and allowed me to meet successful businessmen plus people who are useful to know. Last year I bought the roofing company I was working for, so now I run my own business. Making money is very important to me. Anyone who says it isn't important to them is lying.
I've always done what I've wanted to do. My parents never indoctrinated me, they let me make up my own mind. My great-grandfather used to organise Labour supporters at the Liverpool docks and most of my relatives live in Liverpool and support Labour. But my grandfather, who I live with, as a self-made man would never dream of voting for Labour. I joined the YCs because I believe in Tory values like free ownership and privatisation and particularly believed in Margaret Thatcher but I'm more centre-right than right-wing.
The high points have been meeting important people like Margaret Thatcher, Parkinson, Tebbit and John Major, who comes across as a very nice man when you meet him on his own or in a small group. The low points have been when people have spat at me or threatened to set their dogs on me; I've had eggs and even a fridge thrown at me. Tories seem to attract this kind of hatred. I used to worry about it, but you learn to be witty in the face of adversity. Once out canvassing in a car a passer-by raised two fingers at me in a V-sign so I shouted back 'Ah, wonderful, that's two more votes]'
I don't agree with everything Conservatives say, but there are only two things that would make me leave the party. The first is if they tried to abolish the monarchy, the second is if Britain were to join a European state and lose its own identity.
I have lots of contact with YCs or Christian Democrats abroad. Once I went on a summer camp with a Norwegian group, and they told us how jealous they were of our British heritage. They even produced a song sheet for us with songs like 'God Save the Queen' and 'Jerusalem'. But the real political animals are those from former Communist countries, they hero-worship Margaret Thatcher.
Politically my role models are Cecil Parkinson, Norman Tebbit and Margaret Thatcher, otherwise I admire successful businessmen. I'm probably the only National Officer who hasn't been to university, but look at John Major - he never went to university and as British Prime Minister he's the third most important person in the world.