The Conservatives Need to Adapt to Win the Next Election │ Holly Wright
Conservatism is threatened by the menace of socialism. The popular support behind Momentum and Corbyn’s version of the Labour Party should deeply worry us. Lord Heseltine warned: ‘2 per cent of the older part of the electorate die every year – they are 70 per cent Conservative’. With the youth vote dominated by Labour, the Conservative Party need to adapt to catch up, or risk falling behind. The date of the next election is uncertain, but what is probable is that the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, will win a majority. This isn’t simply a fear, this is a reality that we are facing.
Some may argue that conservatives should stick to their policies, refuse to shift towards the centre, as if it is giving in to Corbyn’s demands. But moving away from unpopular policies is not ‘giving in’, it is adapting to the wants of the electorate, who ultimately possess the power in deciding the direction in which country goes. Parliament may be sovereign, but the majority of laws come from the House of Commons, who are all elected by the people. Listening to their concerns and demands is not only right, but it is the conservative thing to do.
Edmund Burke is known as the father of modern conservatism. However, he is also known as the reluctant theorist, so it makes sense that the Conservative Party is so reluctant to change. Burke argued for gradual change, to protect the stability of the state from revolution. Modern day conservatives should reflect on this and realise that our duty to the country is to argue for gradual change too, to protect the stability of the state, and society, from radical change.
Winning elections is important, as it means that conservatives are in government and can, therefore, prevent radical change. The only way we can win another election is through reflection and adaptation.
We know the ideas of Corbyn’s Labour would irreparably damage the economy and lead to instability. It’s clear the electorate knows this too (they didn’t give him a majority when given the chance this time round), but seven years of relentless austerity has made them tired of the same old policies we proposed to them in 2017. Perhaps it is time to treat the electorate like people and not propaganda consuming beings.
The May mantra of strength and stability – a policy predicated on governance – means nothing if we cannot be elected. It means nothing if we let a weak leader with unstable policies into power, through reluctance to abandon policies that simply do not work.
Corbyn wants monumental change that will not actually improve the situation for those he claims to help. For instance, the claim that abolishing tuition fees will help those less well off get into university is simply false: in fact, application rates for 18-year-olds living in the most disadvantaged areas in England have risen from 18 to a record 21 per cent. So the facts show that tuition fees don’t stop students from a disadvantage background go to university. Many argue that the current tuition fees system is essentially a graduate tax paid by those who are earning £21,000 and over – you only pay it back if you earn over that amount. The financial pressure that students face comes from the inadequate provision of maintenance loans. So Conservatives should reassess and address this inadequacy by reintroducing bursaries for those who are the most disadvantaged in society. This is the gradual, logic based change we need, to ensure the people of this country are getting the help they need to do their best and succeed.
Perhaps more importantly than this, the Conservatives need to get their message out better. The old stereotype of Conservatives being old men is proving to be, seemingly, based in quite some truth, if one was to look at their social media. During the last election Labour used social media effectively, and it paid off. Getting the conservative message out via social media is the easiest way to inform people of what we really stand for – not just what Labour tell people we stand for.
Burke once said “a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation”. David Cameron did a lot to help the Conservatives appeal to a new audience; it helped bring conservatism to more, and a wider range of people. However, his work is not over. Quite frankly, the Conservative Party has a duty to change to protect the country from Jeremy Corbyn. The only way to do this is to listen to the advice of Burke and the country.