Why vote for the Conservative Party? The Lost Generation

February 13, 2013 2:00 pm

conservative partyAneurin Bevan, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party between 1959-1960 once said ‘‘No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. ..So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.’’ Quite some statement to make, but I’m beginning to see where his hatred for the Conservative party is coming from.

Four years ago I was a member of the Conservative Party. At the time I saw an exhausted Labour government, led by an unelected, lackluster prime minister. A nation saddled in huge debt, continually participating in an unpopular war in the Middle East in addition to corpulent, gross over-spending and expenses scandals at home. To add insult to injury, by the end of 2008, the world had just experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. For the first time in my life, Britain looked broken, or so that’s what we were told.

In opposition, David Cameron seemed to be formulating some divine plan to lift the country from its knees, constantly regurgitating political lyrics and phrases, converging his own linguistic mantra’s with words like ‘mend’, ‘fix’ and ‘rebuild’, reassuring us ‘‘we’re all in this together’’. Surely the ‘proof was in the pudding’ and the ingredient would be sensible spending, anti-bureaucracy and (the old Conservative party crowd pleaser) social responsibility. All of which seemed digestible. In the run up to the 2010 General Election, the Conservative party campaign seemed slightly fresher by high jacking the word ‘change’. Visually plastering it on conference walls and podiums, ‘Party for Change’, ‘Ready for Change’, ‘Vote for Change’. In the red corner, Gordon Brown’s campaign had been dubbed by its own ministers as the three ‘F’s’: ‘Futile, Finished and F****ed’. Stir that together with the infamous ‘Bigot’ gaffe of Rochdale and the shiny TV debate performances of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to cultivate voters on the left; it astounds me how Labour managed to deny the Tories their expected majority victory that May.conservative party tory

Here we stand in 2013 and another general election tumultuously edges closer. With our national prospects still looking bleak, I now admit, it is Labour I hope to see return. Of course, on the contrary, it would be naïve to ignore the mistakes of the previous government, yet from a personal perspective (and speaking as a student) it is the Labour Party that has provided me with greater opportunities. The ‘Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998’ which saw maintenance grants replaced with repayable student loans for all echoes this point prominently in the vicinity of further education of which I can only speak for. Without regard, I can say unequivocally that I feel no affiliation or affection for the Conservative Party at all. Maybe it’s a sign of the times and over time views change and so do people. Yes, I have fallen victim to such sharp transitions that, even since the party took its seat beside the Liberal Democrats on the green government benches, I am yet to agree with even a scarce amount of Tory proposal exhibited during this parliament. On many occasions you could say the party has planted the seeds of its own destruction. Whether it was David Cameron’s gay marriage proposals in which over one hundred Conservative Party MPs expressed ‘deep concern’ or Nick Clegg’s House of Lords Reform in which ninety Conservative party MPs broke the coalition agreement by defying the government in a vote. Both policies symbolised real progressive initiatives. All that remains for the party to feast and bicker over is Europe and the feeble legislature of redrawing parliamentary boundaries that does absolutely nothing in the way of helping people’s lives or improving our democratic system (but subsequently, only benefits the share of Tory votes in an election) What wondrous ideas will they chalk up next?

Maybe I should revaluate my priorities here. Do my prejudices only manifest in their weak response to policy or in the austere literature of our Chancellors budgets or statements? Plans that have advocated the vicious slashing of welfare for the vulnerable and disabled yet ensure tax breaks for corporations and those earning over £150,000. Are we not all in this together, Dave? Or are a few off the hook?

Istudent fee demot was understood that the deficit had to be dealt with, and a pragmatic approach was needed, but not to the degree of ruthlessness we have seen executed. And as for the calculating process of cutting public sector jobs as though they were faceless commodities on a screen, it seems to highlight what is wrong with the way society is managed today. As it happens, the heavy brunt of the Conservative party storm has raged over my own generation in the wake of its destruction. Nonetheless, I feel these effects will be as devastating for the perpetrator as they were for the victims. I will not delve into the stale rigmarole of university tuition fees, but I feel the targeting of students today could prove to be a shot a in the foot, resulting in long term infirmity tomorrow. Any consolations for us? We mustn’t forget, it was the Liberal Democrat compromise which enabled us to start paying back our loans as soon as we earn £21,000 instead of £15,000. How decent. Hopefully the Conservative party didn’t mind.

Now, you may question, ‘Why should the Conservative Party care?’ The answer lays barefaced: because they’ve just severed the young person’s vote for a generation, the students of today who will soon be the working men and women of tomorrow, won’t be careless in forgetting who loaded the baggage of debt weighted round our necks aged fifty.

And it’s not even current university students who will be extracting the torches and pitch forks come 2015 but their younger brothers and sisters in higher education will be accompanying them too. In the face of reforms to secondary education, it has been asserted by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, that pupils are not worked vigorously enough. Under an exceeding overhaul of the current system, which have been labelled a ‘throw back to the 1950s’ style examination, AS-levels will be separated from A-levels to become a separate qualification. This regressive intervention will mean teenagers taking A-levels will no longer sit exams after one year, and will instead be tested at the end of their two-year course in the likely shape of a lengthy three hour exam. All in all, it signifies that young people will be burdened further with heaps of pressure on one exam, likely causing increased levels of stress and worry. In addition, those who find satisfaction in the collection of marks and grades from coursework, providing much needed back-up in the event of failed exams, will be left feeling very bare. One bad day and it could potentially annihilate your chances for the future.

rich and poorThis seems very much like the formulating of a two tier system, one for the so called ‘achievers’ and another tier for the rest; unpityingly separating the wheat from the chaff. The Conservative party prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, warned us in the mid nineteenth century about a nation divided in two between the wealth of people consisting of the rich and poor and now that same party is to be the cause of new divide two and half centuries later, this time between the wealth of possibility.

If I could use a one word to epitomize the Conservative party’s return to government, it would be ‘cold’. Cold actions, cold thinking and cold priorities, the last time they won an election outright I hadn’t been born. Like it or not, we now live in times of incendiary danger and financial uncertainty. However I believe we’re more open to the creative energy of young men and women than any other time in history. Together, this new generation can begin to forge a new argument on the left and centre-left of British politics. An argument presented with fair, progressive thinking weaved consecutively by compassionate pragmatism. It has to serve the most vulnerable and reward the hard working but most importantly, provide everyone with the same opportunities in life, regardless of the categories we have been unethically summoned into. In moulding this idea, I predict the Conservative Party will be deprived of an elected majority for another twenty years. Let’s hope that is down to us.

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