Of Demographic Time Bombs and other Tory Miseries

Image Credit: Jacob Rees MoggImage Credit: Jacob Rees Mogg

It’s amazing what a difference just a few weeks can make in British politics. When Theresa May called a general election on April 18th, the Conservatives could not have been in a better position. With the party supposedly clear on their stance of delivering Brexit against the rampant ideological infighting within the Labour Party, with Jeremy Corbyn seemingly unable to control his own party, as well as the devastating Copeland by-election result for Labour, they were seemingly set for a 100-plus majority, cynically bypassing the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act in calling the snap election.

Yet here we find ourselves, despite expecting a similar, if not more severe, repeat of Labour’s abysmal 1984 election against Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour and its re-engagement of the young people’s vote helped dismantle the Tories’ majority into a hung parliament. Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win, and Theresa May still managed to form a wafer thin government, but it was still a relative triumph for Labour, with the nature of Labour’s rise posing a pertinent threat to the Tories’ future.

The Tories are evidently trying to ride the storm, avoid another general election, allow the Corbynista frenzy to pass over, and for their Oakeshottian status as the responsible drivers of the ship to return.

Momentum, once derisively shamed as a leftist mob, became symbolic of the populist movement now strident and chock-full of young people feeling disenfranchised and forgotten by the alleged neoliberal establishment. With an ageing core vote, and the mainstream media’s smear campaign against Corbyn speedily losing credibility, the Tories are fearing the young person’s vote more than ever.

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So how do the Tories respond? The confused launch(es) of the ‘Tory Momentum’ – ‘Activate’ – at least indicates a self-aware recognition of their increased disassociation with young people, but the haphazard nature of its launch(es), leaks of young Conservatives’ group chats jokingly advocating for the genocide of ‘chavs’, and the hugely-mocked memes posted on Twitter woefully aiming to relate to young people, certainly display an inability to relate with ordinary young people.

With an ageing core vote, and the mainstream media’s smear campaign against Corbyn speedily losing credibility, the Tories are fearing the young person’s vote more than ever.

It would seem Theresa May’s own strategy was to avoid the problem, avoid public recognition of her own humiliating campaign, and to seemingly diffuse the situation via the usual political-quiet of the summer. It is unclear as to whether this has or will worked, whether Corbyn-mania has or will dampen – only time will tell.

An optimistic view for future Tory strategy is that the truly abysmal campaign of 2017 will likely never be as destitute again, and that a party famous for priding themselves upon strong leadership will never allow Theresa May to contest an election again. But in the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s recent Telegraph article/quasi-leadership manifesto, and its sheer lack of support garnered within the parliamentary party, Theresa May seems to be here to stay…for the time being.

An optimistic view for future Tory strategy is that the truly abysmal campaign of 2017 will likely never be as destitute again, and that a party famous for priding themselves upon strong leadership will never allow Theresa May to contest an election again.

The Tories are evidently trying to ride the storm, avoid another general election, allow the Corbynista frenzy to pass over, and for their Oakeshottian status as the responsible drivers of the ship to return. It may well happen, but with the hand they’ve been dealt to try and deliver a deal with the EU that won’t cripple the country’s economy and relations with Europe, they’ve taken on an enormous task in riding the storm, and one that may tarnish their reputation with British voters for quite some time.

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