Young people deserve a better future

I joined the Conservative Party in the early 1970s at the time of the first referendum, and from 1999 served for ten years as an MEP. Last year, after increasing unease at the Party’s lurch to the Right, I joined the Liberal Democrats where I instantly felt at home. More Tories will surely follow, especially as so many are not renewing their membership given the clumsiness of the cabal currently at the top.

Conservatives are not the only ones to be unhappy: young people are being disadvantaged and even damaged by the triply toxic cocktail of Covid plus Boris Johnson plus Gavin Williamson.

Young people share the same aspirations my generation had for a decent job, an affordable home, and the chance to broaden their personal horizons – a future they could look forward to with confidence rather than despair.

However, today they are facing a job market which is bleak at best. Help to Buy is of little help to those in the midlands and north where more jobs are being lost, and home ownership may be a millstone to negative equity rather than a ladder to prosperity. The young in particular need help with reasonable rents. Big companies conveniently declare themselves bankrupt to renegotiate their rents downwards, but the young have no such options.

Regarding broadening of horizons, the Government has apparently not even explored continuing the inspiring Erasmus programme for student exchange within the EU. It is no surprise that a recent poll shows only 10% of 18-24 year olds would consider voting Conservative now compared with 30% ten years ago.

LibDems don’t have a Shadow Minister for young people – yet – but then the Government does not have a responsible Minister either. As one newspaper put it succinctly, Boris is keener to help older people who voted for him rather than younger people who will have to pay.

The recent LibDem five-point plan gave special mention to young people, which is a positive start. Let us build on this and be   seen as the one party to put the young at the heart of our drive for new, relevant and practical policies. They deserve a better future, and we should pledge to work with them tirelessly to deliver it.

* Philip Bushill-Matthews is a former Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, and is now a member of the Liberal Democrats in Leamington Spa.

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  • I’m curious to know your view now on the Thatcher years Mr Bushill-Matthews given that you were a Conservative right through from the early seventies.

  • Gerald Stewart 30th Oct '20 - 9:14pm

    There is no natural law which states that each generation should be better or no worse off than those that came before, sometimes the curve dips, and decline takes place. History shows that progress is not constant or linear.
    Given the climate emergency generation, Z may have to adjust to the fact that they will be financially and materially worse off than their parents or grandparents, either that or their kids are going to be even more angry with them than they are with the baby boomers.

  • The logical outcomes of reducing the reach of beneficial social policy in the last fifty years have now been realised. The cost is paid by the vulnerable. In this case the young, the deprived. The great tragedy is that in sacrificing the young and the deprived we have scored a colossal own-goal as a country. Our own children in Britain starve each day, they go cold, unwashed, and have fuel poverty. Unless you have contact with people who suffer in this way – or you have a social conscience – to see to acknowledge them is to be either judged to be exaggerated or a work of fantasy.
    When will the great and the good realise that to care for the impoverished, to care for the deprived IS to care for the young and ultimately care for us all.
    Social housing gave us the housing ladder. Free universal education at all levels gave us our post-war recovery and made us the most innovative genius nation on the planet. Talent is not confined to the rich, it is scattered amongst all classes. We need them all. Just look at Mr Marcus Rashford MBE, raised on benefits, glorious talent, only 22 years old but telling the world decency, kindness serves us all and it must be realised in social policy.

  • Nom de Plume 31st Oct '20 - 7:46am

    There is an older generation of Conservative voter which has more Liberal views. Edward McMillan-Scott is another example, as is Ken Clarke. I don’t think they are even welcome in the modern Conservative Party. It is now quite a different sort of political animal.

  • Peter Hirst 31st Oct '20 - 4:37pm

    We could start by making tackling climate change our highest priority. What good is a job if the climate becomes uninhabitable? I suspect most young people want a secure future with or without a job.

  • Dear Philip

    The only time we have met was in Birmingham at the Conservative Party Conference 2018. Reading the article, I was delighted to see that you reached the same decisions as me about both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.


  • Gerald Stewart 31st Oct '20 - 6:11pm

    Phillip, I’d suggest that there is nothing ‘conveniant’ about bankruptcy for big business, small business, charities or private individual’s. I worked for the substance misuse charity LifeLine during the period it went into voluntary administration, it was not convenient for service users, staff or wider stakeholders. Fortunately after much disruption most service contract were successfully novated to another provider, but not without cost not least a spike in service user deaths during the process.

  • I’m curious to know your view now on the Thatcher years
    Much depends on where you were…
    Well for me – then in my 20’s, they were good until 1989 when Thatcher’s policies destroyed a developing technology market in which my 4 year old company was a leading light in.
    Roll forward to 2016 and another Conservative government effectively destroyed another business I had been developing for some years – it being predicated on the UK being part of the EU…
    Who says the Conservatives are the party of business?

  • The Thatcher years ? Answer came there none.

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