Growing up in Hull, as Scott did, politics was simple: Labour was synonymous for good and the Conservatives bad. Stories scattered with expletives from family and friends in mining and industrial towns across Yorkshire testified to this. It is no secret that people’s views are often shaped during their childhood by their surroundings and experiences. Scott Bell is not from a traditional Tory household: his mother was a dinner lady at the local primary school and his dad worked in the accounting department for a Grimsby fishing firm. But three aspects of Scott’s childhood shaped his politics and his support for the Conservative party.
The first was the adoption of Scott and his twin brother at an early age. They were adopted from a single mother in East Yorkshire to my parents in Hull a few weeks before my adopted mother would have been ineligible to adopt due to age. This was certainly a very sensitive experience for everyone involved, and has shaped Scott’s approach to politics and community work. He will be the first to say it hasn’t always been an easy road, there have been times of upset and despair, but adoption is something we should talk about more and celebrate in our society.
Family and Community
The fantastic work of the social care system in finding Scott and his brother a home, coupled with an endless commitment by our adopted parents to raise the young boys as their own, without a doubt boosted their chances in life by an immeasurable amount. Scott and his brother were the first in our family to go to university and to migrate down south to London – a fact my proud parents love telling everyone they meet down the shops or in the gym. Not all children are as lucky. 62 per cent of children in care are there because of abuse or neglect, and just half of looked-after children have ‘normal’ emotional and behavioural health. This area of social policy really embodies why Scott is a Conservative: the message that no child should be left behind is key to the party’s One Nation drive. A lot of great work has been done by this Government, but there is still much more to do.
Employment and Education
The second factor stems from spending a lot of time visiting families in the estates of East Hull. Whilst most were good people, the levels of anti-social and violent behaviour are simply unacceptable in modern Britain. A sense of hopelessness can be felt across the estates: levels of unemployment are too high and educational attainment too low. The Hull estates are by no means the worse; Scott’s experience living close to the Manor estate in Sheffield is echoed by people up and down the country: there are thousands of people across Britain living lives marked by violence, educational underachievement, unemployment and sickness. The Conservative Party is the party of hope and work; areas like Hull East exemplify the fantastic work this Government is doing through the national living wage, back-to- work schemes and record employment levels. On his regular trips back to Hull and East Yorkshire, Scott is proud to talk about the Conservative Party and what we are doing to people who haven’t had the best start in life – it is a message we should take head on to Labour.
Business and Enterprise
The third influence has to do with the power of local civil society. As a teenager, Scott took part in the Young Enterprise scheme at the local comprehensive school he attended. This programme is a partnership between local government, charity and local businesses, and sees a group of young people go through the process of setting up their own business, issuing share capital and bringing a product to market. The programme gave Scott the belief that he could achieve in life, an appreciation of local business and a conviction that small businesses and local people are the best drivers of a struggling economy. They have the power and knowledge to boost prosperity, skills and the confidence of an area. Our beliefs in business and that power and influence are best administered at a local level really does have the ability to transform lives for the better. Scott is a testament to this.