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Politics, the PM, the States and Me

Douglas' story of his journey into politics, his encounter with the PM and how he continues on the political path across the pond
Douglas Ellison and Liz Truss in the 1990s
Douglas Ellison and Liz Truss in the 1990s

It was nearly 25 years ago that Douglas Ellison (Eagle 1976-1980) found himself standing in a Greenwich Council election with the current Prime Minister, Liz Truss.

So what journey has he been on before the late 1990s and after.

Douglas Ellison explains whilst it was his Hurst A Level Economics teachers, Messrs H. Thomas and Hughes, reinforcing his experience of the free market and monetary economics from his time living in Hong Kong, it was also Margaret Thatcher becoming PM during the Lower Sixth of his time at Hurst that meant he entered university in 1980 very much a Thatcherite.

Student politics at the University of York did not interest Douglas at all. It wasn’t until the ousting of Thatcher and the passing of the Maastricht Treaty that he realised being inactive politically meant having to put up with the choices and capabilities of others.

So, it was in 1997 that Douglas Ellison stood for the Referendum Party in his home constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich, full of zeal for extracting the UK from the European Union. What happened was a salutary lesson! He received 5% of the votes and was sent away to formulate what to do next. He opted for what he thought was the better route of working within conventional politics and parties to press for the change he earnestly sought.

And so it was that in 1998, Douglas found himself standing in a Greenwich Council election with the current Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Both anxious to climb the ladders of the Tory party to find that elusive unicorn of a safe Parliamentary seat, despite being on opposite wings of the Conservative Party, her more orthodox economics and being pro-EU, they forged a team. Their somewhat predictable defeat didn’t deter either of them. Liz, much to Douglas’ disappointment, was selected ahead of him four years later in the new ward where he lived. This led him to join up with a former colleague from the Referendum Party in a winnable ward in Eltham, to which he was elected in 2002. Liz was the one Conservative candidate not elected in 2002 in his home ward. 

Concurrent with his Conservative Party aspirations, Douglas was heavily involved in cross-party campaigning against the euro and the UK’s membership of the EU but by 2004, the amount of time and commitment he was making to politics made him reassess whether it was worth losing so much family time and detracting from his career in the City.

As fate would have it, a job came up in New York in 2004 that might reignite Douglas’ career. With big reservations over having to give up UK politics, he resigned from Greenwich Council and my EU campaigns and started a new challenge.

Nigel Farage and the EU campaigners subsequent success in forcing David Cameron to grant a referendum was bitter sweet.  It was something Douglas had worked toward for over 10 years but ultimately enjoyed as a bystander in the USA. Equally the success of Liz Truss in the past 10 years, capping it all this month by becoming Prime Minister, was bitter sweet in that it made him wonder that if he had persevered in Conservative politics, could he have emulated at least some of her success?

Douglas states “We’ll never know. What I do know is that to be as successful as Farage or Truss have been requires an enormous self-belief, commitment, resilience and sacrifice. Equally, whether you like or loathe them, alternatives will only be found if people get involved in the local party of their choice and contribute to presenting the best and brightest alternatives at election time.”

Douglas concludes saying he greatly enjoyed his 10 years of political antics and believes he was part of achieving something he passionately wanted. After a nigh on 40 year career in finance, he has now retired in Florida and lightly dabbling in Floridian politics.

Who knows where it may take him or who he may encounter along the way!

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