The Conservative party has for a long time, attached itself a stigma of being a party devoid of youth both in its policy decisions and its membership base, with a once thriving Conservative Futures shut down due to allegations of bullying, abuse and many other things, the party has struggled to establish a successor group.
Many have tried to launch non-affiliated groups some succeeding such as the Jacob Rees-Mogg fan group Moggmentum and others spectacularly and hilariously failing like the infamous Activate which has been laughed out of serious politics faster than it could establish itself.
The party has recently launched a new youth wing, imaginatively called Young Conservatives, there are many questions people have for this group, namely is the main party going to act on any advice the Youth wing provides, or is it just going to pay lip service and use it as a pool of active and physically fit campaigners.
Many have asked “why would a young person vote Conservative?” now in my humble opinion this is the greatest issue the Conservative party faces, with automation on the horizon and the millenials predicted to be the first to earn less than the previous generation young people are increasingly pessimistic about their future, despite record numbers of university attendees, jobs are scarce, homes are out of their reach and they feel as if their government is not listening to them, if we want young people to vote Conservative there are two things I believe we need to do.
Firstly we must much like David Cameron push for apprenticeships to become the dominant training force for young people within all areas of the economy giving people the opportunity to gain skills without the immense debt and time out of professional employment university gives them. However we must not be foolish enough to allow low skill apprenticeships (such as those offered by Poundland of all places) to flourish, these are merely employers using the system to subsidise their employment costs.
Second we must re-invgorate the spirit of Thatchers right to buy, not through government subsidies as many have called for, through the Government using its power to cut regulation on developers whilst simultaneously encouraging development on existing land, either through tax incentives or via financial penalties on developers who sit on their land to increase future profitability. Thatcher believed as all Conservatives do, that everyone should be able to own a home if they wish, in the current market young people are pessimistic about their ownership opportunities we must revitalise youth positivity about the future before we lose a generation to renters.
Speaking to Ben Bradley MP on the issue he had this to say on the future for young Conservatism:
“I think increasingly there are young people out there who are frustrated that they don’t see a political home for themselves. They are told that because they are young they should be Corbynistas but they aren’t, and they understand the huge benefits that come from the freedoms and choices that we get from capitalism, they understand how that has dragged millions of people out of poverty, and that things aren’t as simple as the hard-left would tell them. Equally though they haven’t seen the Conservatives as a natural fit for a variety of reasons, and we need to show that we understand the challenges they face around the cost of living, housing, the changing nature of work. We need to show that we value their thoughts and support their aspirations. That’s what YCs is about, and then harnessing that aspiration to make sure we can elect some of those bright young activists to local Councils, and here to Parliament.”
When questioned on what the party offers young people, a question many have asked he gave us his thoughts on the issue.
“All of the Government’s priorities right now on a domestic level are aimed at the future, at sustainability, and younger people. The key things coming out of Number 10 focus on Education through major changes in Further Education, Apprenticeships and a review of Higher Ed funding, on Housing and our commitment to building more and helping people afford their first home, and obviously all of Michael Gove’s fabulous strides forward in environmental policy so our future is a green and sustainable one. If you are a young and aspirational 20 or 30-something who wants to get a good education, get a job and build a career, have a family, buy a house, then that’s what the Conservatives are about. That’s what we want too. It’s not easy to deliver, but that’s the end game and the more support we can get to deliver a Conservative majority in the future the more chance we have of delivering it.”
With many of his views being positive for the future for the Young Conservatives the question of whether it will become another Activate farce only time will tell, however if Bradley is an example of the new wave of Conservative politicians the future may yet be bright for the party.
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