Whatever you think of them, young Tories are a very rare breed.
Just 19% of 18-19 year olds and 22% of 20-24 year olds voted Conservative at the last election. For every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by nine points. (SOURCE: YouGov)
Now this group have spoken out, about the abuse they receive for merely having a relatively mainstream political preference, albeit not among their generation.
Although many recognised the abuse they mentioned was harsh, they pointed to the fact that this group couldn’t be considered oppressed.
The latest discussion began after a Telegraph video of three Young Tories speaking about their belief that they are unfairly victimised, quoting various verbal insults they have received with the words “racist”, “sexist”, “traitor” and “homophobic” among others highlighting some of the comments they have had to deal with since becoming members.
This sparked debate, which was, as Twitter is, typically dominated by the left. Although many recognised the abuse they mentioned was harsh, they pointed to the fact that this group couldn’t be considered oppressed. There was no institutional bias against them as there has been in history for BAME people, women or LGBT+ people.
Indeed some went further, accusing the Young Tories of hypocrisy being a part of a party they believe to have had a history of (in the words of Aleesha Khaliq on Gal-Dem) “institutional racism, homophobia and islamophobia.”
Whilst that attack in itself may be steeped in exaggeration the Conservatives have never done themselves any favours when it comes to being popular with the youth. From tuition fee hikes to Matt Hancock stating that the youth “aren’t as productive”, and of course, the pursuing of a hard Brexit, is it really any wonder why there is genuine anger from other political groups at their policies?
To clarify, I’m not a Tory. Why? Because I fundamentally disagree with a number of their policies, the severity of their economic approach and a stubbornness that has defined the party since its de facto foundation just under 350 years ago, and continues to today. Nevertheless even if I did support it, I’d be very uncomfortable expressing it.
they may not be in the mainstream amongst their generation but are very much in keeping with the plurality of the UK population looking at recent polls
Indeed, a friend of mine who is a Tory Member, who’ll remain anonymous, says that although they are confident enough in their position, they are still dumbfounded as to why they are instantly judged for their views. Of course, they may not be in the mainstream amongst their generation but are very much in keeping with the plurality of the UK population looking at recent polls.
So is it really fair to attack Conservatives based on their political views? On the one hand, they are members of a party who are so out of touch with the youth, both from a promotional and policy perspective, that it is not unreasonable for those on the opposite side of the spectrum to harbour strong feelings of dislike for that party.
Add to that the fact that this abuse is not institutionalised (some argue it is among academics but based on my experiences I disagree), and the fact that most people actively involved in other political parties are likely to sit down and discuss things with Tories, then they are far from oppressed.
But then again, is it really reasonable at all to attack anyone, just because they may be part of a party that at the last election received the highest vote share by a party since 1997?
Ten years ago, though the Conservatives were still run by an elite, they had a diverse range of views, and a shadow cabinet with many socially liberal characters. As much as that is hard to see now, it is worth remembering that will still reflect their membership.
So although the abuse young Tories receive may not be ‘torment’ or oppression, we should seek to criticise the policies their party supports and the beliefs they hold, not question the nature of their character and insult them.