BY ALEXIA JAMES
To the sensible and sound, the General Election last week was a simple question of mathematics and a totting up of negative facts around the judgment of Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour leadership. The IFS statement about Labour’s manifesto not adding up and documentation showing Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell supporting the IRA in the past would have been enough to secure a Tory vote based on logic alone. Yet two in five voting Britons decided to vote Labour anyway.
Aside from Brexit, social care and a dire manifesto offsiding many otherwise-Tory voters into a protest vote – as we saw in Kensington – the young made a huge difference.
One of the reasons why the young vote Labour is that Labour are better at getting their message across to them – via social media, via the biased BBC and, especially, via celebrities. With an estimated 72 per cent of 18-24 year olds exercising their right to vote, a raft of stars are being hailed as the heroes behind the big increase in young voters. In comparison, in 2015 only 43 per cent of young people voted in the general election. Many are now saying social media and the power of celebrities are the real reason behind the increase in turnout.
While Ed Miliband relied on the likes of Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard and Martin Freeman, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour could fall back on Ricki Gervais, Lily Allen, Professor Green, Stormzy and Rag’n’bone Man. Other Labour celebs included Gary Lineker, J.K. Rowling and Minnie Driver. While Tory voters would look down their noses at this hypocritical and wealthy rabble, the reality is that, to Britain’s young, they are cool and so they follow them in more ways than one.
No-one cool was urging people to vote Tory. Lord Digby Jones is not cool. In spite of his grey whiskers, Alan Sugar is no Pied Piper. After a year of taking the mickey out of celebrity social justice warriors, maybe Tories should recognise they have underestimated their appeal?
You don’t have to agree with his version of conservatism to vote Tory but the conservative commentator James Delingpole hit the nail on the head after Theresa May’s disastrous result:
The reality is that the Conservative Party are failing to make themselves attractive to the young, despite efforts to entice them to the party because they are not cool. The Conservative Party is cool in the offices of staid accountants and around bridge tables but it’s uncool in the corridors of colleges and universities – out on the street.
All is not lost. The way the Tories need to win over the young voter is by adopting a threefold approach:
First, the Conservative Party needs to look at the College Republican model in the US. In the US the biggest active youth political movement is the College Republican movement and it includes speakers who are considered cool. Eventually switching leaders to someone like Boris may help – he is far cooler than the robotic Theresa May and could steal some of Corbyn’s doe-eyed cult following.
Second, the Conservative Party needs to employ a digital marketing agency and use social chain marketing to build up support across social media. Labour promoted voter registration 149 times on Twitter – the Conservatives did so zero times. Never again should all voters be faced with “Vote Labour” as the number one promoted trend on Twitter when they looked on Twitter on the morning of the General Election – Tories should outmanoeuvre and outspend Labour across the Web.
Finally, and most importantly, the Conservative Party needs to drag out from their shyness the Tory-voting celebs. They do exist but they keep quiet. There are people like James Blunt, Jenson Button and Simply Red star Mick Hucknall who made comments during the last year about how awful Corbyn was – they need to be brought into the fold somehow. What the Tories need is a Robert Pattinson or an Emma Watson, alongside a rapper (sorry, it’s beyond my pay grade to name any) and a footballer.
The Tories need to get real.
And stop the Corbyn charade dead in its tracks.
Conservatism should be cool. Conservatism should rock. The heroin of Corbyn – the damage his economics is doing in Venezuela – could easily be countered by a Jurgen Klopp style love affair across the generations and classes, emanating style, coolness and panache.
Out with the grey. In with the cool. Bye bye Jeremy.