Discussing their views on the race for Conservative Party leadership, a group of young activists said they feared losing the next election was inevitable
A group of young activists discussed and shared their views on the Conservative Party leadership race and the credentials of the candidates offered so far I They feared losing the next election was inevitable.
Tory MPs are no longer in touch with party membership and the electoral base, and the choice of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss as finalists will hurt the party’s chances in the next election, young Conservatives have said.
Some said they were disappointed with the last two in the leadership race because – having served in senior Cabinet positions – they are too close to Boris Johnson, who they warned is killing the traditional Tory vote.
And they condemned “embarrassing” public beatings that Tory MPs in rival camps had with each other.
In a group of six young Conservatives, two are undecided, two support Mr Sunak and two will support Ms Truss. However, those who have picked a candidate to support have expressed frustration with the election that lies ahead.
James Dodsworth, a 21-year-old from Reigate and Banstead, said: “I think Tory MPs have shown that they have completely lost touch with what Members and Conservative voters want.
“If you want to oust Boris Johnson, which I think was right, if you want to oust him after he’s done all the things he’s done for us, you might as well offer us an alternative as opposed to his number one and two. I know that many members are very unhappy that we have his current foreign minister and his former chancellor as the two options.
“I have the feeling [the party] gets absolutely slammed for introducing probably the two worst people they could make of anyone with a chance of actually winning.
Rohan Vijjhalwar – 22, from Spelthorne – shared concerns that Mr Johnson’s appointment of a senior cabinet minister would make it easy for Labor to attack the party.
“Certainly these two candidates have been too closely associated with Johnson’s administration in the past. Labor can easily have a rival with that,” he said. “I’m concerned about keeping Labor out for the next general election and I think the Conservatives are behind. I think a lot of the promises they make… I’m not sure how much they believe in themselves.
“A lot of what they say […] I wonder how much they actually believe in some of the things they talk about.”
Mr Dodsworth continued: “What’s really annoying about this is that we could easily have this ideological debate with two candidates who are not so closely associated with the previous regime.”
He said that while campaigning in Surrey he learned that one of the main reasons the party did so poorly in local elections was Boris Johnson.
“He may have gotten us winning seats in the Red Wall, but if you’re actually going to survive in the seats we’re supposed to represent, we’ve got to put some distance between us and him,” he said.
“The two people we now have to choose from basically supported him to the last straw. So at this point I’m just incredibly disillusioned with this whole race. Because MPs are simply given a garbage decision.”
Luke Price, a 17-year-old supporter of Liz Truss from South West Surrey, said the focus should be entirely on the 2024 election. He fears it’s a certainty that the Conservatives will lose and it’s all a matter of how big the loss is.
“Rishi is pretty delusional if he thinks he’ll be able to keep those Red Wall seats up,” he said. “Boris Johnson is hardly a working-class man, but I think Rishi is trying to portray himself as one. I just can’t see him in any way capable of sustaining an election win, I think at this point.
“We will lose this election. The conclusion we have to come to is how much we lose it… I think we’ll lose it a lot worse if Rishi Sunak.”
George Holt, 22 from Dartford, argued the party might still have a chance if MPs stopped publicly attacking each other.
“It’s up to us to lose, but if our MPs don’t pull themselves together and stop taunting each other on Twitter… it’s going to be frankly embarrassing.
“They just fight on Twitter, they call each other names and it gets ridiculous. If this continues. It will be a very, very bleak prospect for the next general election.”
Much like the broader party, the group has been torn over the candidates’ economic and fiscal policies – the issues that have become the main dividing line in the race.
Joseph Oakley, 17, supports Liz Truss even though she wasn’t his first choice. “The main reason was simply that I was not convinced of Rishi’s economic plan,” he said.
“I was almost open to it because he was Chancellor and I felt like maybe it was Boris Johnson who forced him into some of these tax increases. But I just think it will drive companies out of our country.”
Asked if he supports the tax burden imposed on younger generations by delaying debt repayments, he said: “It’s something I’m concerned about, but I don’t think raising taxes is the right way to go about it .”