The Conservative Party Conference 2022 (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Artillery Row

Young conservatives need a voice

We have been ignored for too long

Through social media and institutional encouragement, Generation Z has been pushed to be as politically active as possible: whether that be sharing Black Lives Matter infographics, striking for the government to implement draconian policies in the name of a “climate emergency, or campaigning for children to be taught about sex in schools by becoming a member of the British Youth Parliament. 

Our media and institutions champion young people advocating for the restriction of liberties or the erosion of our culture in the name of progressivism. Their extremist ideas are seen as visionary, and their destructive actions are seen as courageous. 

It’s a completely different story, however, when young people on the right decide to be politically vocal. The slightest mention of conservatism can lead to exclusion from educational institutions and ostracisation from our peers. Merely saying “Rule Britannia” might get you excluded from your student union and politics society. Even agreeing with the government’s plan to send asylum claimants to Rwanda is enough to get you expelled from school. Young right wingers are seen as either dangerous extremists or pretentious weirdos for simply presenting views a fraction as radical or wacky as their left-wing counterparts.

Generation Z will be houseless, childless and penniless

This helped to inspire the Reasoned Student Summit — an event dedicated to discussing the ideas behind conservatism. As the host and director of Reasoned UK (a grassroots conservative organisation dedicated to giving young people a voice), I wanted to make the summit exciting for young people whilst sparking discussion of what it actually means to be a conservative. When organising the event, we aimed to feature a range of speakers: Nigel Farage, Mahyar Tousi, Calvin Robinson — and even leftists like Steve Baker! The event was a success. Many of the attendees spoke to me afterwards, feeling inspired to get involved with the conservative movement. 

After the event, the UnHerd journalist Will Lloyd wrote an article titled “Meet Britain’s radical New Right”. Lloyd documents his experience at the summit where he spoke to several blackpilled young conservatives about their concerns over the decline of Britain. He says that the outline of new conservatism is “despairing and angry” and that many of them “are not interested in being nice”.

Where has nice got us? Young conservatives are seen as canvassing fodder. Many go into local politics, spending hours a week door-knocking and sucking up to the party line in hopes of getting a crumb of influence in the party. We’re used as an example of how a young person should act in politics: sensible and mature, unlike that naïve, rude Greta Thunberg! But unlike her, we’re not listened to. Why should we just sit down and listen to the grown-ups? Especially considering that the policies the grown-ups have voted for are destroying the country.

The Conservatives have sacrificed the countries’ young people in order to attract the boomer vote. They conserve a gerontocratic regime that prioritises triple lock pensions, lockdowns, the greenbelt and endless NHS funding at the expense of young people. Generation Z will be houseless, childless and penniless.

As one young Conservative told Times Radio at this year’s party Conference: “Why would you vote conservative when there’s nothing to conserve. You can’t buy a house; you can’t find a decent job. Why would vote Conservative?” Among young conservatives, there’s a growing sentiment that the Conservative Party needs to be taught a lesson for wasting their eighty-seat majority. 

Since the party has let us down, where should young conservatives turn to for ideological inspiration? Lloyd writes about the undoubted appeal Nigel Farage had for attendees:

They are not like Farage: Thatcher’s children — they are his children. They like Farage’s positions on British identity and borders, not markets. They hoot their affection at Farage, not for what he says about free trade but for the way he says it.

As one of the organisers of the event, I found it admittedly challenging to help pick speakers who would truly resonate with young people. The sad reality is that there aren’t any. There’s a gap between the new and the older generation of conservatives. From the way we talk about politics to the political issues we focus on, we have a different outlook. Farage will always be a hero to the British right. Unfortunately, his relevance is starting to expire.

There’s nothing wrong with being radical

Young Conservatives must form our own identity. I disagree with Mr Lloyd that the room was full of anger and pessimism. When I was on the stage, in front of me I saw young people who wanted guidance and answers. These are educated and bright young people. Whether they were dressed formally or in casualwear, they were genuinely keen to engage in politics. Whilst they solemnly nodded their heads as speakers discussed the issues of the country, they eagerly cheered whenever a good way to change the country was suggested. 

Young people on the right are starting to realise that we need to act. We don’t want to just push a few pawns on the chess board to block the opponent; we want to make dynamic moves with the queen first. It’s not enough to just move the pieces around. Instead of just being reactive to the left, we need to be proactive with our values. We need to take some tips from the left-wing activists in order to get our voices heard. As the suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst said:

You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed. One baby is patient and waits immediately until its mother is ready to feed it. The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it’s fed. Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first.

Young Conservatives are fed up with politicians simply paying lip service whilst not doing anything about the country’s issues. MPs can cheer about knowing that a woman is an adult human female all day long, whilst being complicit with The Gender Recognition Act 2004 which allows biological men to legally identify as women. They can roll their eyes at diversity and inclusion officers, but they refuse to talk about removing the clause in the Equality Act 2010 which caused this diversity bureaucracy. If the Conservative Party is all bark and no bite, they don’t deserve our vote. 

As I told the audience at the event, young conservatives need to do two things: be more ideological and be more active. Young people are expected to be bold and visionary, and young conservatives should not be exempt from this. The fact that over a hundred young people were willing to take time out of their day to listen, question and learn should be exciting, not dangerous. If our institutions, both mainstream and conservative, fail to resonate and connect with young people on the right then the result will be disillusionment and disconnection. Events like the Reasoned Student Summit help shape the identity of what it means to be a young person on the right. I’m optimistic about the prospects for young conservatives. There’s nothing wrong with being radical. 

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