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The Tory conference was supposed to be the point when Theresa May announced a raft of policies to challenge Jeremy Corbyn’s wooing of the youth vote.
If she had left the main platform of the conference and slipped into a packed Adam Smith Institute fringe meeting at the Manchester conference she would have been sorely disappointed.
The meeting chaired by a young Times journalist ,Grant Tucker, was meant to be a discussion on what the millennial generation want and how they can get young voters away from Jeremy Corbyn.
Predictably it was hostile to any Corbyn programme of rent control and nationalisation but what was extraordinary was the hostility to the May announcements earlier in the week.
The meeting was heavily dominated by the housing crisis facing the young Tories – almost to a man and woman – all privately renting and paying up to 50 per cent of their monthly post tax income for small rooms in shared flats.
The £10 billion put aside to massively expand the Help to Buy programme was universally condemned from both the platform, by Madsen Pirie from the Adam Smith Institute, and by the audience as exactly the wrong thing to do.
They saw it as putting up house prices even more beyond reach and doing nothing to aid the supply of affordable homes. Nor did they want a big council house building programme.
What they wanted was a liberalisation of the planning laws and a mass release of land to allow not a few thousands but a million, yes a million, homes built in three years to totally change the affordability of housing and bringing back mass home ownership.
Nor were they impressed with a £1.2 billion spent freezing student loans at £9250 and raising the pay back level to £25,000. What they wanted was instead the abolition of the new 6.1 per cent interest rate on loans, pointing out that this could add £5000 to payments soon after students graduated.
So how has May got this so very,very wrong. The answer was plain to see. The Tory leadership is not listening to them. What came over to me was that thus young strand of the Tory’s future had no influence on what their leaders did and were very frustrated and even angry about it.
Unlike at Labour where it is clear that young people – as members of the party had an input – these young people seemed to be treated as election fodder to get the mainly elderly Tory vote out.
There was other thing I noticed at this gathering.There was not a black or brown face to be seen, they were universally white, again unlike Labour. Yet they were not all from the Tory shires, some were from multiracial Bristol, and another from Camberwell and Peckham. Given what diverse place this is, I was surprised there was no ethnic minority representation. I had seen a more diverse audience at an earlier fringe organised by Westminster council.
What this augurs for the future of the Tory Party is not good for them. Their membership is already elderly and falling. If they don’t take any notice of their young membership they are doomed to oblivion – just as Tory campaigner John Strafford said earlier this week.