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KCLCA President wants to scrap the NHS, privatize all education, and have more black-tie dinners

Councillor Charles Amos, newly elected President of the KCL Conservative Association, has been buffeted by waves of controversy over the past month. Roar sat down with him to learn more.

Charles Amos is a distinctive figure. He attends university in a suit and tie – typically with a fedora. He pulls faces when “the lecturer comes into university to give a lecture and they’re in tracksuits and trainers.” His ideology is a curious mix of Victorian and Thatcherite. He hearkens back to Victorian values, suggesting that the “stiff upper lip,” is the best way to lead life. He also bemoans the sexual promiscuity of this century – casual sex, he says, “is not healthy for the soul.”

Yet for all these traditional social norms, his economic policy is extremely libertarian, with clear influences from post-war thinkers. “Ideally,” he said, “all public property would be privatised.” Taxes are an intolerable infringement upon liberty, trade is key to a better world, and the free market – if unchecked by anti-competitive government policy – would undoubtedly solve the pressing social ills of the time.

He got his start in politics at the age of 14, becoming a leading light of UKIP’s youth wing, Young Independence. He put principles to practice at 17, embarking upon a leafleting crusade against wasteful spending by the East Grinstead Town Council on municipal Christmas lights. 

This did not succeed, but that did not deter him. Sensing that UKIP was a sinking ship, he increased his involvement with the local Conservative Party, twice standing for selection as their candidate for local councillor. Eventually, in 2019, he gained a councillor position. He admits that, “I got selected because no one else stood against me,” and notes that many Conservative members strongly opposed him.

That may be something to do with his radical economic views. He wants to fully privatise education and healthcare, believing it the only way to make the state smaller.

When asked about the how families might cope with paying for private tuition (given educating a child from primary to the end of secondary school costs £73,000, around £6,000 a year) he said that, “the free market is more than capable of dealing with these issues,” – arguing that “the average wage is £26,000…so it wouldn’t be unmanageable.” Church schools and other sorts of philanthropy would cover the poorest. In any case, he said, competition would reduce costs – for example, schools could choose to focus on only STEM or arts subjects.

He reserves particular ire for the NHS, lambasting it as illegitimate because it is funded by taxation which “infringes on…rights to life, liberty, and property.” Healthcare should be entirely a private matter. He also said that he would “favour private healthcare irrespective of the results.” When presented with a hypothetical scenario in which the abolition of state healthcare led to 100,000 Britons dying of preventable causes a year, he stuck to his guns, insisting that he “would not favour the state provision of any healthcare whatsoever.”

His radical libertarianism also extends to free speech. “In a public forum,” he says, “people should be able to say whatever they like.” He recounted with mild horror being told by the clerk of the town council that she had almost barred someone from speaking for fear that they might say something racist. In his mind, “if people want to come along and make racist comments at a meeting, then I think they have every right to do so.” He insists this position is not due to prejudice, but the belief that every person “has a right to access his vocal cords in any such way that he wishes.”

This extends to a community level. In his interview with the Purple Tories, he said that “if a group of individuals wished to form a more homogenous community, ethnically, then that is their prerogative.” When presented with a scenario where a majority white community applied pressure to expel minority residents – holding torch-lit marches, racist rallies, sending threatening letters etc. – he said that the white supremacists “would certainly [be] within their rights [and] are simply exercising their freedom of speech.” He goes on to say, that, “I would defend them to exercise such free speech. I wouldn’t defend the content, but I would certainly defend their right.”[1] When questioned on this view, he dug in, saying “If individuals want to dissociate themselves in private covenant communities…on ethnic grounds, then that is their prerogative and they can do as they please. And I wouldn’t have any huge objection to that.”

Interestingly, his other social views are rather traditional. For example, he noted in an interview with The Tab that, “feminism today…it’s about ensuring economic and social equality between men and women and I’m totally opposed to that.” When pressed by Tab journalists, he went further, saying that social and economic equality between men and women is improper. Added to this is his opposition to gay marriage, on the grounds that it was forced on the Church by the government, and hence constituted interference. He also believes that immigration “infringes liberty and forces integration.”

These policy positions are not particularly popular in the modern Conservative Party. Luckily for him, he is “not passionate about the Conservative Party.” He sees it as “simply see it as the most effective vehicle to realise the ends of liberty.” He calls Boris Johnson a wet, and derides “the Johnsonite agenda,” of ending austerity. Instead, he says that the radical right wing must “infiltrate[2] the higher echelons of the Conservative Party.”

He acknowledges that spreading this message in university will be difficult. Oddly enough, he takes his cues in this matter from Jeremy Corbyn. He argues that Corbyn “stood up for his principles throughout his time in the leadership, and I think that standing by principles was very attractive to younger individuals.” Taking a bold stance is especially important given that “teachers are invariably left wing.” When asked why he thought this was, he argued that intellectuals were always “told that they were the best…they’re always the teacher’s favourite.” Then, when they see people who are less academically inclined make more money than them, “they think it’s not fair,” and hence become socialists.

Beyond taking a strong stance on his position, he also intends to reform the KCL Conservative Association to take a more activist role, serving as a platform to convene policy debates and convince others. Debates of this sort not only enhance the visibility of the association, but also test and refine reasoning. Moreover, he notes that speakers are very popular. Last year, Sir John Hayes MP was brought in to address the KCLCA. Inviting these high-profile individuals is something he wants to do more of. And, on a less immediately political note, he said that 70% of members would like to see more black-tie dinners, and he aims to oblige. It is, he says, a great way to, “imagine that..[you’re] a member of the aristocracy for a short period of time.”

Roar undoubtedly speaks for everyone in saying: What could possibly be wrong with that?

Quotations in this article are principally taken from an interview Cllr Amos conducted with the Purple Tories Youtube channel, and an interview with Roar staff.

[1] A week after publication, Cllr Amos reached out to clarify that he did not endorse letters or comments which directly threatened imminent and directed violence.

[2] He later revised this to say “reclaim what is rightfully ours.”. 

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