Tory abroad set for polling day

Andrew Sheppard is the chairman of the Hong Kong branch of Conservatives Abroad.

The Conservatives are facing tough opposition from the Labour Party and also need to battle the Liberal Democrats and a number of smaller parties in Britain's May 1 general election.

A solicitor working on international trade cases, Sheppard coincidentally left Britain for Hong Kong in 1979 just as 18 years of Tory rule were beginning, first under Margaret Thatcher and then John Major.

Whatever the result of the election, he and his wife plan to stay in Hong Kong, which has become their home.

What's on your mind? At the moment, it's actually my professional work as a lawyer. The election takes about an hour of my day although last night I had to go through the unfortunate experience of reading the Labour manifesto.

It took me about four hours trying to make sense of it.

Labour has had a steady 20-point lead in the opinion polls. Who will win? We are going to win. I don't hold much with the polls. I don't think the British want change at all.

We have a strong economy and the right policies in Europe for the United Kingdom and of course if the Labour Party wins there won't even be a United Kingdom as Scotland will get independence.

Will the result make any difference to Hong Kong? The parties are fairly bipartisan on Hong Kong, though the Labour manifesto did not even mention it at all.

Is there a great deal of interest here? There should be interest from people if they have any assets in the UK, as we have the possible spectre of double taxation [if Labour wins], but it's like the people in the UK - the vast majority do not seem to have a day-to-day interest in politics.

But I'm available and happy to debate the issues with any other political party. I hope we can get away from all the talk of sleaze in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

What are your plans for election day? On the night of the 1st we will have a social get-together for members, which has very little relation to the election, though I'm sure it will be talked about. And then on the morning when the results come in, we're hoping to have a breakfast party.