Haus: Where would you say that you sit politically?
Katie: Politically, I sit with the Conservatives, though they might try and deny that - "No! She's not one of us!" There's probably also some nuances of UKIP in my way of thinking; their arguments on immigration are well put together and well iterated, but I'm more Conservative at heart.
Haus: So you'd say that you sit more right-wing than left or centre?
Katie: Yes. In terms of the complete political spectrum, I'm more right-wing. People would definitely perceive me as enormously right-wing, rather than just "of the right".
Haus: Traditionally, a lot of people might associate right-wing politics with WASP majorities having more privilege and rights over the masses. Do you think this is necessarily the case?
Katie: I do. I think that's fair and I think the Conservatives are doing themselves a disservice by trying to pretend it isn't. I think that our cabinet, largely made up of people educated at Eton, is a good example of this. There's no point in pretending that everybody came from the state school system, and isn't that marvellous and social mobility is the way ahead. In reality that's not the picture that people are seeing every day. For me, the "elite" is definitely the way to go. I rather like the 1960s mentality that only the brightest went to university. When you look back at A Level results, only a tiny fraction of people used to get 'A' grades and I think that was right; those grades were the preserve of the "elite". I've always thought that social class is a far more efficient system than social mobility ever will be. I don't think it's wrong that we have Oxford and Cambridge reserved for the "elite", because I think it gives us all something to aspire to.
Katie: Well this is where I think the Grammar School system is right and just. Grammar Schools were always about getting there based on your ability and these were fantastic ways of helping people get to the top and rise up. I recognise that some kids are born into pretty difficult and rough situations, where they don't have people to get them up in the morning or get them school and if they're going to get anywhere, they have to get there themselves. But it's those kids that can end up doing REALLY well and it's the Grammar School system that used to be there to help people like that. Now, we have schools partnering with Free Schools to help people really determined to get ahead, which is great but as long as it's based on mobility and not based on Post Codes or filling a quota of how many children they have to give free school meals to.
Haus: So you believe that people should be given privilege based on their actual abilities rather than what they're actually born into?
Katie: I recognise that some people are fortunate and will be able to go to private school - mine are in private school at the moment - and I think that if you can afford private school, it's your duty to take yourself out of the state school system and put them in private school, freeing up resources for everyone else. It would be great if people could take the money spent on them in the state school system and apply it to a private school, that would be a fantastic thing, but unfortunately they can't do that. I feel the same way about the NHS and private healthcare - if you can afford private healthcare, I think the onus is on you to make sure you use that, because you're freeing up resources for other people. As much as I believe in an "elite" system, there's an accountability if you're born into wealth.
Haus: So you think that everyone, across the board, should have access to systems and rights like the NHS? That in regards to what we're entitled to from the state, "equality" is the touch-word for everything?
Katie: I guess my definition would be different from other people's. Most people would probably say that the word "equal" means that everyone is treated the same, whereas my definition of "equal" is that everyone is treated according to the level of effort they put in. Like I don't believe in all female shortlists, ensuring that there are women on the boards of companies. If you've earned your place on the board, then sure, you should have a place, but not just because you're a woman. And you also have to accept that certain members of our population are really thick. About a third of our population have an IQ lower than about 85, which is the level you need to recognise your own face in the mirror... I think you have to accept that these people are out there, they're not going to make it to university and even though their children are on free school meals, it doesn't matter. If you don't have the intellect to succeed, you aren't going to make it. Boris Johnson gave a brilliant speech about a cornflake box being social mobility, saying that if you shake it you'll see that some people will always fall to the bottom of the packet - that's just life, life is tough and unfair.
Katie: Yes. I've tried it twice and liked it better on the second occasion.
Haus: So when we talk about things that EVERYONE should be entitled to in this country, whether it's the NHS or education, would you say that marriage is on a level with these?
Katie: Absolutely. I like this notion now that marriage is a lot more fluid. If you want to get married you can, if you don't want to you don't have to and if you've had a baby outside of it, nobody would really care. I had my first child before I got married and at the time there was the notion that maybe this was because I had family from the south-west and might therefore have some level of in-breeding and a lack of sophistication... But I like that you can marry whoever the hell you like. And that if you want to get divorced, you can.
Haus: Do you think that people of the same sex need to get married?
Katie: I don't think they need to, but then I don't think that of straight people either. If you take me for a good example as a straight person... well, a relatively straight person who does wear tan tights... I think my first marriage was a complete disaster. You could think "more fool you - you should have waited - that was a very poor decision", but it should definitely be open to everybody, whether they make poor decisions or not.
Haus: What do you think to people who say that "marriage" is a social construct for straight people?
Katie: I think those people have over-thought it. If you really want to spend your life with someone, or even if you just want to spend the next chunk of your life with someone, or show how much you care about them, marriage is that now. Marriage has evolved in what it means and is about showing someone that you trust them, you care for them and you want to spend your time with them. It certainly doesn't belong to straight people and I certainly don't understand why people think that. I don't think it is necessarily straight people who think that nowadays, rather it's people of a religious nature who think that. Religion just causes more fights and hostility than anyone else and some of the meanest people I know are religious, intent on showing people that they go to church. While I'm massively pro most things in life - hard work, getting married, being straight or gay - I am not pro religion in any sense. I think that's become the most divisive thing in our society nowadays.
Haus: What about civil partnerships? Now that same sex marriage has become legalised, a lot of people who have civil partnerships are seeking to have those "upgraded" or renamed. However, you can still have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.
Katie: Christopher Biggins is a friend of mine and he and his partner have a civil partnership and he's always said "we wouldn't bother with marriage because we're perfectly happy being civil partnered." The idea of being "upgraded" is quite funny though - it almost sounds like a Virgin Atlantic flight. "Upgrading" makes it sounds like you're trying to rank something, that by allowing people to "upgrade" to marriage means that civil partnership is automatically a step down from it. Now it's making civil partnership seem like it's the equivalent of just a slight step up from engagement... or those people who have always been together but don't necessarily want to get married. But I would still consider those people to be married really... I guess I'm a lot less judgemental about things like this because if it makes you happy, what's the harm? I can get awfully uptight about things, as we know, but for this sort of thing, just do whatever you want to! I can't rank civil partnerships' importance though. I can supermarkets. And I think it's quite funny trying to figure out where food banks come in the ranking... That's a good game.
Katie: I think that's very unfortunate actually. I completely agree that that's the perception: right wing equals misogynist, bigot, fascist. Obviously if you go to the extremes of the right-wing, this is the case, but I see it in a more modern way. It's about being hard-working, contributing, wanting to do better for your family and helping others to do better. It's a tough love: if you earn over a certain amount you should expect to pay taxes and take yourself out of the NHS and state education. I think that's more of a modern take on Conservatism, probably more so than people might perceive. It's not so anti-everything else as people might think. Vertically it's about working hard, doing your best, not screwing up your life for other people and not making others clear up after you, while cutting across it horizontally, it's about making sure that people are happy and looking at what ties people together as a society. I think sitting back and judging who can get married and how they can get married, is this thing better than that thing; that's just perverse. If you've got time to be passing that kind of judgement on people, I'd question your priorities. It reminds me of pushy mums at school. They really care about their children's grades, "Did little Lulubelle get an 'A' in home economics", but both of my children were born with things really quite wrong with them and you realise that as long as they do OK and they're pretty happy, we're doing alright. That's how I see life. In the grand scheme of things, are people generally happy with how they are and have they been given the freedom to make the choices that they want to make? If so, great. I'm all for pulling back the state and letting people make their choices without Big Brother telling them what they're supposed to do.