‘Rust-belt Tories’ launch campaign to win over youth vote
A group of Conservative MPs with seats in Labour heartlands are set to launch a new campaign to win over millennial voters.
The Freer campaign, being developed by so called 'rust-belt Tories' with seats in Scotland and the north of England, is aiming to appeal to a generation of young voters who they claim are not as left-wing as portrayed.
The campaign is led by Scottish Conservative Luke Graham, and North Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley who overturned a Labour majority in his predominantly working class seat which had held since 1935.
The group, backed by Treasury minister Liz Truss, will argue to Theresa May that millennial voters could be persuaded to vote Conservative if the party can appeal to their belief in personal freedom.
Rowley, whose family had links with union leader Arthur Scargill, said: “One of the most individualistic, determined and outspoken generations in history is coming of age.
“It’s crucial that we harness this and recast the argument about a freer economy and a freer society.”
The party is also set to unveil a series of papers on topics ranging from the nanny state to freedom of expression in a bid to appeal to younger generations of voters.
The campaign follows the relaunch of the Young Conservatives initiative at the party's Spring Conference this weekend.
Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said the youth arm of the party would seek to engage with "thousands of young people who keep being told they must be Corbynistas, but aren't."
The relaunch comes three years after a bullying scandal rocked the Tories' youth wing, then called Conservative Future.
Mark Clarke, who ran the infamous Road Trip 2015 was accused of bullying a young activist, Elliot Johnson, shortly before he committed suicide.
"Nobody wants to see a repeat of that kind of thing," Mr Lewis said. "One of the things that needs to be clear is that can never happen again."
"But actually the reason we've put such a strong team in place is because we care about young members, and we want to make sure that they take something out of it and it delivers something for the party."