This Conservative Party government is clinging to power by its fingernails. By-elections have meant that the Tories’ working majority with the DUP is getting smaller and smaller.
There is now certain talk of a general election in the autumn, two years after the UK held their last one which resulted in a miserable night for the Tories. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be relishing the chance of possibly taking charge of the country, with Boris Johnson proving unpopular with a lot of people.
One thing is clear: the Conservative party will need to engage with younger voters to gain and retain all of the constituencies they can. It’s imperative that Boris Johnson places due emphasis on this in a general election, or he risks losing power to left-wing parties.
Social media is now such a potent tool for spreading ideas far and wide. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or any other interactive platform, political viewpoints can be shared and movements can be created within minutes. There are several examples of this on Twitter.
The FPBE (Follow Back Pro EU) hashtag that’s been used on Twitter has brought together a community of people across the UK who wish to remain in the European Union. You could argue that the People’s Vote initiative was created because of social media. Not only can you use it to spread your message, you can also use it to arrange political protests and demonstration.
Would the case for Remain and a second referendum be as loud if we did not have social media? There’s no doubt that the majority of Parliament supported Remain back in the 2016 EU referendum, including the cabinet at the time. However, the counterargument has always been that the vote to leave was the ‘will of the people’.
Advocates of a second referendum now have the ability to use social media to strengthen their arguments against the PM. These advocates will include some MPs who have a voice in the House of Commons.
It’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party utilise social media better and have engaged successfully with their supporters through it. The hashtag #NotMyPM that trended when Boris Johnson was made Prime Minister shows the attitudes of a lot of people on Twitter — which has a large proportion of young users.
It is clear that the Conservative Party need to engage with young people and social media is the medium for it. Why? Because hashtags like the one above will spread like wildfire. Boris Johnson can utilise his social media channels in a more effective way by directly addressing not just Conservative Party supporters, but the whole country.
If, as he said in his opening speech on Downing Street, he really wants to bring the country together, then he will need all the support he can get — especially with the threat of an October general election on the horizon.
Speaking of a possible general election, his manifesto and aims need to include policies that will attract young people. The education sector is a department which could really help the Tories in their quest. This makes Education Secretary Gavin Williamson one of the most important players for Boris Johnson in his cabinet.
With the Augar Review, the Conservative Party had the opportunity to communicate effectively with university students. There was ample potential to build a connection with young people through consultations that could have been publicised, and to make students feel like they are being cared for.
There was also a debate that I watched in Parliament recently on whether it should be illegal for students not to be paid during an internship. A policy like this, one that forces businesses to pay for the work that students do, could really help in getting young people’s support. Young people are the future and I’m one of those who feels he is in the minority as a Conservative Party supporter.
It’s not just university students that should be the focus for the Tories. People who are doing their A-Levels, college or an apprenticeship will shortly be legally able to vote in a general election; something that is very important.
One thing that may help Boris Johnson is the diversity of his cabinet in Number 10. He has people of different ethnicities, ages and genders in the Government. There is currently a growing appetite for people of all backgrounds to be given a chance, and rightly so. The Prime Minister has used this to recruit a whole mix of people which pay dividends for the Government.
However, there’s still a long way to go for the Conservative Party if they are to win back younger voters who may have felt isolated over the last few years as a result of Brexit and rising tuition fees under the Tories.
Young people can make a huge difference to a political party in the United Kingdom. Labour’s general election result in 2017 proved this. Whilst the Conservative Party may have a loyal following of older voters, they need to start attracting young people in order for them to secure a long-lasting future.
If they refuse to engage with younger voters, they risk losing power to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party — or any other party that seizes the potential of this group.