MP Ben Bradley wants to ‘fix Tory image problem’ according to a massively disingenuous BBC Newsbeat article. According to the young conservative MP for Mansfield, the Tories’ problem is that they’re perceived by the young as being old, grey, and boring. He wants to appeal to ‘Young people, people from ethnic minorities who just don’t vote for us’. He’s pushing for conservatives from popular culture to get the message out. The article goes on to say that ‘any improvement in image would have to be backed up by policy.’income_inequality

You can see the problem here, right? Tory policies that appeal to young voters are pretty thin on the ground. The article cites ‘The Conservatives cut housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds, introduced a lower minimum wage for under-25s and is the only major party against lowering the voting age to 16.’ Well, there’s a start. What else?

How about hard Brexit? Voters under 50 voted overwhelming to remain in the EU. (18-24s did so by a 3-1 margin; 56% of 25-49s voted remain.) All current evidence points to the Tories staying on that very unpopular highway despite all the signs advising them to turn off.

Brexit, like the recent US tax plan, is a boondoggle for the already very wealthy. The reason the government is pushing it so hard, despite the referendum having been clearly an advisory measure (see the first paragraph here, is because there’s so much money to be made getting Britain out from under EU regulatory regimes. It’s not as though the boot is onerous, just that it’s portrayed as such by whiny-ass bitches like Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch’s media empire was massively pro-Brexit. Why? When Anthony Hilton of the Evening Standard asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union, he replied, ‘That’s easy. When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.’

That’s several other articles that have already been written by folks better at this than I am. Laurie Penny, for example.

What does this have to do with what young people want? Young people want a government that acts in the interests of all citizens and does so with transparency. Simple.

What else do young people want? They want for the parties in power to act with resolve against keeping them in poverty. A fully functioning and fully funded NHS and reasonable/zero tuition fees are absolutely at the heart of this.

Reasonable secondary education tuition fees. You know, the ability to leave college not ass-deep in debt. Anywhere in the Tory manifesto? Of course not. If every second 23 year old already owes one of the banks nearly 30,000 pounds, the banks are happy. (Personal history: Tuition fees were introduced in the California public college/university system by Ronald Reagan when he was governor. Once the fee was introduced, it only went up. The CSU system’s tuition increased about 300% in the four years I attended (1985-1989) and is now almost USD 6000 per year. The UC system is over USD 12000 per year.

However, when the banks are happy, Tory campaigns are funded. One can’t expect the current government to rescind that.

And the NHS? Chronically underfunded under the Tories for almost seven years. Setting the NHS up for failure seems to be the Conservative party’s national sport. And they’re winning. They set up metrics like getting some percentage of A&E patients seen in under four hours that they then don’t fund the service to meet. And the papers all bemoan how poorly the NHS is doing. The rest of the world sees in this an obvious ploy. Set the NHS up to fail and then sell it off to the lowest bidder. Worked out beautifully for the Royal Mail as well, but the Royal Mail is only tangentially related to the real world health of its users.

What else? Safe housing estates. Because young people don’t just think only about themselves (all the stupid cracks about Millennials aside), they want for the people amongst us with the least to at least be safe in their own flats. You’d think that’d be a no-brainer, especially after the Grenfell tragedy. Nope, we’re not going to do anything to require property owners to make sure they’re buildings aren’t twenty-story fire traps. Thanks for asking.

Other things? How about a rail system that doesn’t gouge the young commuter (who may no longer be able afford to live near the city they work in) out of a large chunk of their pay packet. Well, nationalization isn’t going to happen, but rail networks that work for commuters and not shareholders? Too much to ask. I suppose the manifesto’s commitment to putting 40 billion pounds into improving Britain’s transport over the next decade is nothing to sneeze at, though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the rail companies’ revenue. In 2016 alone, one parent of Govia Thameslink (operator of Gatwick Express, amongst other services) saw revenues of 3.4 billion. And because of privatization, Govia Thameslink is only one of about 20 different rail operators in the UK.

So, to recap: The way to appeal to the young is to champion and implement policies that affect them and the people they see around them positively rather than negatively. It’s quite simple, but the Tories know who butters their crumpets, and it’s not the youth of Britain.