Euan Tower is an A-level student from Devon.
“Youthquake”, the vast turnout of young people to vote Labour, didn’t happen. We know that now. However, the myth it has left behind has made senior people across all political parties more determined than ever to try to attract younger voters to their respective causes.
I’m a student at a large 6th Form College, studying A-levels in Politics, History and English Literature. The students in my classes are predominantly Labour supporters – specifically followers of Corbyn, some of them religiously. However, while they seem inspired by the general message of rebellion against the current system, their beliefs lack depth. They know little of the substance of his policies, nor those of his wider colleagues and Momentum.
What many of them do feel, spurred on by the Corbyn message, is a sense of entitlement from the state, with many of the privileges of living in a liberal Western democracy being taken for granted. There is an underlying feeling amongst the young left that their voice needs to be heard by Westminster, yet they reject the notion of responsibility associated with electoral participation, perhaps reflecting a wider opposition to responsibility in general.
But there are others, like myself, who know this is wrong. Like the young John Major, having himself experienced the effects of being given opportunity, we want to be given the tools where through hard work and application we can improve our own lives and those of the people around us, thus creating a Britain truly for the many, not the few. That, to me, is basic conservatism, but that message isn’t reaching the next generation of patriotic Britons who so desperately need a vanguard party to counter the ideologies of Corbyn and the young left.
When you’re a student, being right wing, even just centre right, is hard. The once tolerant academic landscape in Britain’s colleges and universities is becoming increasingly less tolerant. “No-platforming” is curbing our freedom of speech, while hostile attitudes towards the debating of socially challenging issues is curbing freedom of thought. As young people, we’re the first to stand up and assert our rights, yet we are swiftly becoming the source of our own oppression.
For those of us in the young right, the exclusion of high-profile figures promoting a pure Conservative message from our educational institutions is immensely frustrating. The left has Labour to legitimise their increasingly radical opinions on national and global issues, while the right has to either keep quiet or tone down their views to avoid being labelled racist or offensive. Yet the Prime Minister of our country is a Conservative. So why then is this subduing of academic debate allowed to continue? Without debate, our democracy will die.
The Conservative Party has lost its way. Strong and stable? In some respects, yes, in others, very definitely not. Given the current circumstances, the Party is managing to hold itself together rather well, at least on the surface. The day to day battles between the centrists and those more towards the right often threatens to split the Party. Yet this infighting is the least of its worries.
The Party is often likened to a chameleon, morphing and evolving as times change, yet all the while maintaining a strong Conservative heart. The question now is what does it evolve into next? Right now, it appears to be stuck in time, wedged between optimism for a more prosperous Britain and pessimism for what many see as an isolated future. But right now, we very definitely do not need pessimism. In this time of uncertainty, someone needs to take responsibility and grab hold of the reins, steering Britain towards a brighter future, while we, the young right, need a movement to get behind that promotes our thirst for a better Britain.
We need a party to fight our corner, to protect our views and our right to express them, to protect our pride in our history and culture which is under continuous attack, to protect our vision of a prosperous and confident United Kingdom and to give us the tools to take responsibility in our own lives to achieve real change. We need a party of responsibility. Will that party be the Conservatives?
Labour may well win the next election. If it did, it would be down to the failure of the Conservatives to galvanise themselves and put forward a clear and coherent vision of Britain’s future. The change to our nation would be immense, with many of the customs and traditions, institutions and beliefs that we define as British likely to come under threat. The Conservative Party would have failed to do what it says on the tin: conserve. Therefore, in order to protect our homeland, we must encourage change and reform, but without altering who we are as a people.
Being proud of your country is a mature and responsible idea and one we should be allowed to hold. Rather than shy away from our history, we must embrace it, as it defines who we are. Whatever our race or religion, we must unite under the banner of Britishness and go out into the world as a nation of proud, patriotic, hardworking people.
The Conservatives have to become the party of responsibility. No longer can they take their electoral success for granted, because this is no longer a game of party politics – this is the future of our nation at stake. While it is true we have a strong movement of left-wing entitlement, particularly among the young, there is also an emerging movement of strong opposition amongst people who feel they lack any sort of representation.
The Conservative Party must clarify its vision and become the champion of this movement not only in Westminster but across the UK in order to encourage true debate. This would not only bring about new life to our country but also to our democracy, maintaining and extending our freedoms and setting an example for other democracies to follow.