Conservatives need to change their 'wooden' and 'robotic' brand in 2018
Toff and other young supporters and activists like her, with an ability to engage with people in a different way, have to be a part of our plans for the future, says Ben Bradley MP.
I’m optimistic for 2018. Let’s get that in early. There’s lots to look forward to, though there are also many challenges ahead too. One such challenge that we need to deal with as a party and as a Government in 2018 and beyond is to overcome the barriers that have prevented us from engaging and inspiring younger voters. When I say young I don’t mean just students, but younger working age people in particular.
From a personal perspective I think it’s a terrible situation that an aspirational, hard-working 30-something looking to raise a family, build a career and do well could ever not be a Conservative. In my mind that’s what we as a party are all about; the party of opportunity and of aspiration. The fact that so many working people didn’t vote Conservative shows just how bad we are at ‘selling’ not just our policies, but our values.
What Corbyn has in abundance is authenticity, and very clearly a passionate belief in what he’s saying. Meanwhile the Conservatives have become too wooden, too ‘robotic’ as many commented after June’s election. We are much less effective at sharing our passions and our commitment, and at talking about the values that guide us. It can be hard to put across a pragmatic and ‘small c’ conservative approach in the same way as Corbyn can; it’s much easier to rail against the world and be against things than it is to deliver real change. We simply have to do better though in 2018 if we are to win back the support we need.
We have to take a step forwards, stick our heads above the parapet and fight for what we believe in, when in the past we have been too shy (and frankly sometimes to scared of the abuse we will inevitably get) to be proactive and to promote our values. If people can’t see what we’re aiming for, or what our vision for the future really is, then we can’t hope to inspire people to support us. It’s not just about leadership, or about Government, but the whole party. We need to learn a lesson from the Queen of the Jungle, and put ourselves out there. Toff and other young supporters and activists like her, with an ability to engage with people in a different way, have to be a part of our plans for the future just as much as MPs.
We also have to change the perception of what a Tory MP really is. In our parliamentary party we have an ever growing and diverse group of young and enthusiastic MPs with big ideas and big potential, and yet the public perception - certainly in my part of the world – is still of a group of 60-something grey blokes with lots of money, repeating phrases like ‘Strong and Stable’ or ‘Long Term Economic Plan’. We have to work harder to push a new generation to the forefront of our approach, to refresh things and show that we have a great bunch of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
I’ll say it again, I’m optimistic for the future. I think finally people in the party are starting to ‘get’ this, and I for one will be pushing hard for a renewal of our ‘brand’ in 2018.
Ben Bradley is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Mansfield