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Young Tories Tell Us How They Got Into Politics

"Obviously she's dead, but I've always been a big Margaret Thatcher fan."
19 October 2016, 2:05pm

Source: Witney Young Conservatives

At the 2015 general election, Labour would have beaten the Conservatives by a landslide if the only votes counted were those cast by people aged 18 to 24.

Even today, with Labour reaching new lows in the polls and the Liberal Democrats electorally wiped out, as the Conservatives increasingly position themselves as the only legitimate party of government they still can't win over young people. A recent YouGov poll found just 22 percent of young people would vote Tory at the next general election (compared to 42 percent in the country as a whole).

Still, 22 percent is not nothing; there must be some young people out there who are excited about living under a Conservative government for at least a generation. Young men and women who are willing to fly in the face of demographics to proudly support Conservatism.

We tracked a few down to talk about how they got into Tory activism and what their hopes for the future of the party are. Some seemed like politicians in the making, pausing before they respond to questions to remember their stock answers. Others sat in their bedrooms, with their kid sister barging in on them, talking freely about why they reckon the Tories are better placed to help disadvantaged people than Labour. Here's what they had to say:

ELLIOTT MALIK, 19, HAMPSHIRE

VICE: What made you want to become a Tory activist?
Elliot Malik: I joined when I was 16. Someone said I was interested in politics, so why don't I join the Conservatives? I went to the Romsey show where the Conservatives had a tent and I met our local MP, and this all interested me, and it's continued from there. I'm an activist mainly, at Exeter University, where I study, and last year I was the chairman of my local Conservative Future branch.

Are you from a Tory voting family?
Yes I am.

What do your friends think of your politics?
It depends. Obviously the Conservative ones are happy about it, but quite a few wonder why I am a Conservative and they stereotype that Tories don't care about people, and I've tried to persuade them otherwise. Some now have a better view of the party because they know someone that is Conservative.

Would you date a Labour voter?
Urgh. Well, I mean, probably. I don't know. Obviously if they are a Conservative I would probably have more in common with them. Politics is only part of someone's inside personality.

What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street?
Obviously sympathetic. No one wants to be homeless – some people are running away from abusive families or have hardship in their lives. I met a man who had once been in the Navy and is now on the streets. I don't know how anyone could not have sympathy for someone like that.

You have a posh voice. Does it annoy you that Tories are stereotyped as all being rich?
Once that may have been true, but I know quite a few working class Conservatives whose parents are on benefits, but they still think the Conservatives work for people like them. My mother is an immigrant and she works in the city council. If you just go on stereotypes I'm not from a naturally Conservative family, but we think the Tories are better than Labour.

Who do you look up to in the party?
Just for his tenacity, Jacob Rees-Mogg. He has a niche and small following, but he is a stereotypical Conservative. Loads of people like him because he is an utterly pleasant man.

Did you vote for Brexit?
Yes. Obviously, in some ways the economic argument was stronger on the Remain side, but I thought that we'd get more sovereignty by leaving. I also think that the EU is declining and stagnating and will not really be a good thing for Britain in another decade. I asked myself, 'What would the country be like in 40 years? What would the EU be like?' I tried to look into the future and I don't think we'd be better off inside the EU.

What do you think of Corbyn?
Corbyn is an asset to the Conservative Party. I don't think he will win an election – Labour is in the wilderness and he won't give them a victory – but in some ways it's bad for the Conservatives as we need strong opposition to keep the party united and have something to rally against.

RABYIA BAIG, 23, WORCESTER

VICE: How would you describe yourself?
Rabyia Baig: I'm a young Tory – quite a liberal Tory, I must say. I'm not totally right-wing. I'm the chairwoman for Conservative Future [the youth branch of the party] in Worcester.

Are there many young people involved in the party in Worcester?
It's been really nice recently because we've had a lot of interest among young people because of the EU, and we've definitely had an increase in young members.

Are you from a Tory voting family?
My family are not your typical Conservatives. There's a 50:50 split, I think. There's always been support for Tories, but some of my family and friends are very Labour. Overall, growing up, I sided more with the Tories.

Do you think young people are embarrassed to admit they're Conservative?
Yes, but I think things are changing. Whatever you do you have to be proud of that. I meet so many different young people from left, right, all sorts. It's more about who you are, your personality and whether you have that appeal to people from all sorts of political sides. Young people respect that.

Do you think the party has managed to shed its nasty party image?
There have been huge changes – a lot of that goes down to David Cameron and bringing in "big society" and "hug a hoody" to eliminate that image of the nasty party. Theresa May is the icing on the cake to bring that on further.

Would you ever date a Labour voter?
Ask me in ten or 20 years time. I really don't know.

What if you met a nice one now?
Maybe. The honest answer is I don't know.

What do you think when you see a homeless person on street?
Tricky. Good question. I'm always sympathetic to those less fortunate and I'm definitely sympathetic to homeless people.

Who inspires you in the Conservative party?
Robin Walker, my local MP. He was the one who kind of helped me – he really pushed me and encouraged me to go into politics. I didn't know what I wanted to do and then I met him.

Theresa May or David Cameron?
David Cameron, definitely.

HARRY LOWN, 18, PORTSMOUTH

How did you get involved in the Tory party?
Harry Lown: I do Politics at college and that made me decide to join. All my friends joined the Labour party.

Do your parents vote Conservative, too?
One of them doesn't; one votes Conservative. I did go to a private school but I go to a state school now, and it's kind of enshrined in your views that you shouldn't like Gove and you should like the unions. The teachers put stickers on us and I said no. The Labour party aims itself at young people. I think you should be more pragmatic, and that's what the Conservatives are.

What do your mates at college think of your politics?
There are about three or four Conservatives in the 1,000 people at my college; the rest vote Labour. They all think Tories are anti-tax, pro-austerity and have strong views about the privatisation of the NHS. Some of them think I'm horrible and posh; most of them respect it but don't really understand it. Quite a lot of people are scared to say they're Tory because all you get is ridiculed.

What you date a Labour party member?
I would, yeah. I think it would be good for political discussion.

What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street?
I'm not really compassionate. I think it's a part of society – you need a mix. It's horrible that it happens, but there's not much we can do about it. If it has to happen then it has to happen. I don't want to sound like a horrible person, but you know what I mean.

Who do you prefer, Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May?
Obviously she's dead but I've always been a big Margaret Thatcher fan. I'm a Thatcherite. But I like David Cameron and Theresa May and I do respect Labour MPs like Dennis Skinner. I prefer Cameron to May, though. Socially, she isn't really my ideal. She voted against gay marriage and things like that. It's bad.

LIAM WALKER, 25, WITNEY

VICE: How did you get into politics?
Liam Walker: My MP was David Cameron and we were offered the chance to go on a tour of Parliament when I was in sixth form, and I found politics then. I'm an activist and potential candidate for local council next year. I was also chairman of Conservative Future for Witney for three-and-a-half years.

Are you from a Tory voting family?
My family votes Conservative but they're not active in politics.

Who's your inspiration in the party?
It would have to be Cameron. I was on his campaign team and he supported me as branch chairman.

What do your friends think of your politics?
They're very supportive. I've got lots of friends across the spectrum and a lot of my friends have voted because of things I've put on social media. I'm active and I put it out there.

What you date a Labour voter?
Err, erm, yeah. Yeah, I don't think politics is involved in everything when it comes to love life. I think, as an MP, it might be an issue, but certainly, at the moment, it wouldn't be an issue.

What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street?
Intrigued, is probably the word. I think every person has a different story and different background for how they might have got into that position.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully I'll be a successful local councillor, owning my own home.

What do you think of Theresa May?
She was the best of a bad bunch. She wants to knuckle down and get on with the job. We've got unsteady months and years ahead, and we needed someone already sat around the table and making decisions – someone able to cope with the pressures.

Did you vote to remain in Europe?
I was an active campaigner for the Remain campaign team. I did sit on the fence at one point, but it didn't seem right to put the economy and jobs at risk.

LAWRENCE POPLE, 18, PORTSMOUTH

VICE: How did you get involved with the party?
Lawrence Pople: It was more by chance that anything; I happened to live in quite a Conservative area, politically. Plus the one-nation government led by Cameron, and especially the coalition, really resonated with me. The Labour party didn't really represent me in terms of my opinions on the economy.

What do your mates think of your politics?
Most of my friends are left-wing. I've got one who's a bit of a commie, but most are Labour party members – but we get on well because I'm very moderate as a Conservative. I come from Portsmouth, I'm working class. We have banter, though, especially at college – most people there are very left wing.

Would you date a Labour voter?
Yeah. I would date whoever as long as they're nice. I think that's one of the reasons I got involved in politics – I think the best way to move forward is to work together. I've never opted for casting peoples opinions aside.

What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street?
I always firstly wonder what we can do. I mean, offering to buy them stuff or calling the Salvation Army. I hate the perception that we [Conservatives] don't want to help people – it's just I believe that people who are not as well off in society can be helped through different means.

Who do you admire in the party?
I really like Kenneth Clark, but I must admit I have a lot of time for the former PM. A lot of stuff he did was in the best interests of the majority of people.

How did you vote in the EU referendum?
I'd rather not comment on that.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I don't know. I wouldn't want to go into politics myself. I get involved in politics at a local level, but, really, I view politics as something external. I'd probably go into teaching.

Are you from a Tory voting family?
No. I'm from a very floating voter family. My grandparents tend to be Labour voters. I don't know how my parents vote – they've never really shown any party affiliation.

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