Conservative candidate for Brent stands to serve

Luke Parker - Conservative Party parliamentary candidate for Brent North

Luke Parker - Conservative Party parliamentary candidate for Brent North - Credit: Archant

Two decades ago the Conservative Party were the sitting incumbents in Brent North.

Rhodes Boyson held the blue seat for 23 years until Barry Gardiner unseated him with a huge majority in 1997 and he has kept it ever since.

Luke Parker, selected as the Conservative candidate for Brent North four years ago, believes he is the man to bring his party back.

“Brent North was a safe Conservative seat and everyone says, ‘it’s because of a demographic change’ that it’s now Labour,” he said. “To me the demographic change is a euphemism for Conservatives having to do a much better job, reaching out to immigrant communities.

“One thing I’ve tried to fix is reaching out to people to say we’ve got a lot of shared values, values of hard work, values of faith and family, values of free enterprise, the belief that family and faith are the centre of the community, not the state, and those are our common values. I’ve made a big effort to tap into that.”

Mr Parker grew up in Sutton, south London, the only child of Catholic, left wing parents. His maternal grandfather was “an angry Glaswegian, both Conservative and Socialist” while his other grandfather and father “were both trade unionists and classic Labour.”

He added: “I was a news junkie and very interested from an early age and spent most of my 20s thinking who in their right mind would go into parliament. Half of the people hate you or don’t get the chance to know you.”

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The businessman, an associate partner at IBM, winning multi million pound global contacts, said he chose to stand as a candidate because he wants to serve people.

“I enjoy my work but you start realising you want something a bit more and serving is something that has appealed to me for quite a while. So I thought, I am going to have a go at this, I am going to try to serve. You pick a party and go out and do it.”

He joined the Conservative Party at 18 but it wasn’t until 2011 that he “sent in his CV and got on the candidates list” and currently helps out the party in a campaigning capacity as the chairman of the London Area South Conservatives.

He looked at serving people through a charity but when he talked to organisations about what they were trying to achieve, he found many of their objectives were to influence the people in parliament, in power, and thought: “Why can’t I be the person who can do that in the first place?”

He currently lives in Richmond with his wife, whom he met at secondary school, and three children. He is a practicing Catholic, which he “doesn’t let effect” his politics citing his support for the gay marriage bill passed through parliament.

He believes he has much in common with the constituents he will serve if elected. “When I look at the values of the communities, particularly the values of the immigrant communities in Brent North, they believe in hard work, they believe that faith and family should be the centre of the community. They don’t believe in welfare, they don’t believe in state handouts or that the government will fix everything.”

He is against the “endless borrowing of successive governments” which is where, with a choice of New Labour, Liberal Democrats or Conservative, he settled on the party which “had the vast majority of things I agreed with”.

“The money is going to all the wrong places, welfare being a great example,” he explained. “There are still too many people in this country who think it’s demeaning to take a job as a cleaner but don’t think it’s demeaning to stay at home and collect welfare. I still think there are too many people we need to put in a situation where they can go out and get work.

“When we are in a situation where we are in London right now, when the economy is so strong, you’ve got to ask why anyone is on welfare, anyone who has the ability to go to work.

“There’s a huge demand for people with the right skills and there’s a huge shop of people who haven’t acquired those skills wondering why they haven’t got a job.”

He said the Conservatives will increase the number of apprenticeships to “three million by 2010” to deal with the problem.

He added: “This is one of the ideologies which led me – if we could simply take money off the wealthiest “the people with the broadest shoulders” and spend it on the needy, I could become a left winger in a minute. But the reality is when you try to tax the rich and take money off the top one per cent, what happens is they don’t drink less champagne or drive less nice cars, they just do it in Switzerland or Dubai and you’re left with reduced tax rates, investments and fewer jobs.”

Should he win he will work on three issues: fighting Brent Council, regenerating the high street, and campaigning for all to have a world class education. “Two things Brent Council has got wrong and I will be fighting them on is the bins tax, which is just another council tax; the other is the mega schools. Instead of encouraging academies and free schools which are highly successful, Brent is doing what it can to dissuade them which leaves this big problem of having to build mega schools. “More nationally, helping the high street is important. The pub I grew up in, my parents’ pub, is now shut down and boarded up. The high street is in a sorry state of repair and I’d like to see us intervene in a large way.

“The third is education. I would want to see us have a world class education system. It’s funny, I think it’s something that most people in Labour really believe in but when it comes to executing it, it always gets stuck with the unions who don’t want to change anything.”

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