Who decided the 2017 General Election? Young voters have often been pivotal in British politics and in fact it has been said that young people could have changed the result of the EU referendum in 2016. As a young voter myself, I have spent many years working tirelessly to engage young people in politics and in particular, Conservatism. In July of this year, I will become too old to be classed as a young voter and it worries me that the next generation of voters and electors appear to be anarchistic; anti-establishment; sensationalist radicals.
The General Election in 2017 was called in order to deliver a Conservative Majority in order to give the prime minister a personal mandate in order to deliver Brexit. It was decided in the end by a student vote and resulted in a very different result; A Conservative minority government propped up by the ten Democratic Unionist Party MPs from Northern Ireland. The question is, why are students drawn towards the left?
I have been in politics for eight years Now. For all of those eight years I have been committed to engaging with young people. When I first stood for Council election, I was twenty three years of age and had been a Conservative Party Member for two years. Having been a Conservative Student for a year, I was part of a severe minority but I was hell bent on engaging young people with Conservatism. I had been a Branch chairman; Deputy area chairman; Area Chairman and later, went on to be deputy regional and regional chairman of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative Party. I have spent the last eight years trying to get young people in Derbyshire and the East Midlands to firstly engage in politics but more importantly engage with the Conservative Party. I have to say myself, I didn’t do a bad job.
So where do the young voters of today get their political views from? Parents? Television? Teachers? Possibly all of the above, in actual fact.
I often tell a story of my favourite teacher from school; now don’t get me wrong Jez was a unionist but he knew that schools were about the children. He taught me the virtues of hard work; determination and meritocracy. The hard unionist IT teacher from down town red Bradford instilled in me the strong conservative values that I carry now.
So my message begins with saying that politics affects us all and that every vote matters. I have often had political conversations with children or emerging adolescents and got a lot of sense from them. The challenge is getting them to believe in politics without sensationalist radicalism or antiestablishment politics of opposition. I have developed a style of teaching politics in the fourth person. I will give the facts rather than my opinion.
Back in 2010, as a Conservative student and as a Students’ Union officer, I had several conversations with Further Education Students, in essence sixteen and seventeen year old future voters. The political culture at the time was somewhat volatile, the British National Party were at the height of their existence. There was a culture of antiestablishment politics, which in a lot of cases is in existence today, it was fashionable and trendy to vote BNP, in the same way that it has been fashionable to vote UKIP in recent times. I had conversations with students and young voters at that time who were intending, when the time came, to vote Conservative, because they knew that they wanted better border controls and control over freedom of movement, they wanted to protect their future employment.
Now this proved to me that not all students and young voters were left wing the communists; in fact a lot of them were centre of the road or right of centre. The student movement in Britain has been lead into battle for far too long by a very leftist NUS and very much like the Nursing profession, there is very little choice in the matter. Despite talks many years ago of another union in the student world, there is still only one we have seen a string of either left wing Labour Party members leading the National Union of Students and the choice was always being a member of the NUS or not being a member. I have made no secret of the fact that for two years I was a Students’ Union officer but I denounced my ties to the organisation in 2010 following the NUS Demo in Westminster when the offices of my beloved Conservative Party were stormed.
From the brief analysis that my colleagues and I, in the voluntary Conservative Party have done so far, all of the Conservative marginals that went red have all got either a University or large student community within them.
In answer to my earlier question, why are students drawn towards the left? I can only attribute this strange phenomenon to the issue of tuition fees. We saw a lurch to the centre and the liberal democrats in 2010 due to the same issue. The worrying thing is that following Mr Clegg’s failure to carry the policy through, the students of this wonderful country have decided to follow the same route again. It also disturbs me that the very people who introduced tuition fees in English Universities in the first place are attempting to win over voters by pledging to scrap the policy.
The reasons aside, I think it is a huge positive that we got so many young voters out to vote in 2017. My mission in the next twenty two months is to get the young vote out in Erewash, but not just to get the young vote out, get the young vote out for a reason. I will have conversation and dialog with young red voters, I will often tell them that I am not opposed to them voting Labour as long as there is a reason. “Because my parents do” or “They’re not Conservative” are not credible reasons to vote Labour.
I’m now two years into my council term and I have had the pleasure of receiving school children into the council chamber and visiting schools. I have to say that this a revolutionary way of engaging future generations. The first interaction that I had with politicians was in 2005 when the parliamentary candidates visited our sixth form college.
In conclusion, Students and Young Voters did decide the General Election, but were they deceived by the Special Advisers who appear to be making Jeremy Corbyn an electable force? It would appear that way to me. Whilst the Prime Minister was zigzagging the Country talking to real voters with the occasional inevitable media circus that those of us on the inside thrive on at election time, Jeremy Corbyn had an image makeover. Momentum arranged a few rally events and suddenly he is almost electable.
The thing is that the money comes from Len McCluskey and the feet on the ground comes from Momentum, but he is still a Trotskyite Communist at the end of the day. The only person with the credibility to run this country and make a success of Brexit in the national interest is Theresa May.