The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his conference speech today aimed at young people and in defence of the free market as the underpinning of a free society.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his conference speech today to yells and applause from the audience. He defended the free market as that which ‘will underpin a free society’, with special emphasis on the next generation. It seems the Conservatives are gearing up to claim their share of the youth vote. They are listening it seems, but will it work?

Mr Hammond’s scathing remarks on Corbyn’s Labour during his speech, mirrored the old style negative scaremongering that has bored and turned young people away from politics for years. Referring to the hard left’s ‘scaremongering’ is ironic, when you consider a large chunk of Mr Hammond’s speech this afternoon was about Corbyn and his ‘hard-left Labour’.

That said, it was refreshing to see an attempt from the Conservative Party to begin engaging young people, stating that they ‘owe it to the next generation to show that Corbyn’s doctrine will return us to the 1970s’.

The rhetoric of state-owned businesses running up huge debt and being massively inefficient will, however, be lost on us, the next generation. We are not in the 1970s and some would argue suggesting a comparison is far fetched considering the very different socio-economic situation we find ourselves in today.

Mr Hammond goes on to reminisce that for ‘35 years we have had a consensus in politics … that consensus is over’. The consensus may have seemed like a positive for the Conservatives, but it is also one of the main reasons for the large amount of apathy found in the UK and the west in general. Prior to 2015 the parties looked alike, spoke in the same manner and stood for the same ideals. This made for very boring debate and even duller politics. It also led to our very acidic campaign style of constant scaremongering from both Labour and Conservatives. When you have nothing different or interesting to say, you often resort to attacking the other side. Think of a high school playground … .

It turned people off politics due to the assumption that there is no choice. Now we have a choice and whether you agree with Corbyn or not, this can only be seen as a good thing. This is not only because politics has become more interesting and people are naturally engaging in it. The Conservative Party will now have to try harder to win the next generation over. All the negative scaremongering employed by both left and right pre-2015 will simply not work. You now need to have a plan and something interesting to say for us to listen.

So we are all ears Conservatives … what do you have for us?

Mr Hammond did move on to say that the Conservatives will inject half a billion in education and provide more apprenticeships to plug the current skills gap — a very relevant and topical discussion point throughout the conference in the fringe and main conference. (Partially led by the revelation that the UK Has One Of The Lowest Skill Levels In The G7, despite being one of the richest countries in the world.)

Mr Hammond rounded off with infrastructure, stating he will invest a further £300,000 to future-proof the railway network. He also made reference to the current housing crisis. Mr Hammond recognised that ‘despite the growth in housing projects, getting into the housing market is ‘challenging’. He went on to say that ‘to many young people, the housing market looks rigged in favour of those already way up the ladder’. An important recognition for the next generation, most of whom will be unable to buy a house or flat for years to come. Brexit was also a natural discussion point, with Hammond stating that ‘we are leaving the EU, not Europe’ suggesting a wish for close ties with continental Europe after Brexit.

It is clear that although the Conservatives have a long way to go to effectively deal with the outdated negative rhetoric plaguing their politics, they are listening and they are attempting to win over the youth vote. Whether this will work, only time will tell.

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