Lisa Townsend: It’s time for Conservatives to address the party’s women problem

11 Jan

Lisa Townsend is the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey.

I’m not a fan of ‘women’s issues’. For a start, we make up 51 per cent of the electorate, so if we’re going to discuss sex-based minority policies then we should really be starting with men. Current tactics however, are not working for women.

We know that, historically, women were more likely to vote Conservative. The oft-quoted Fawcett Society claim that without women’s suffrage, the UK would have seen an almost continuous Labour government since the Second World War, should serve as a reminder to us all how important women are in determining who gets to hold the keys to 10 Downing Street.

But right now, the party has a woman problem – a young woman problem, to be more specific. It’s been steadily growing since 2015 and according to recent polling, it’s getting worse. So bad in fact, that without urgent action to regain the trust and confidence of women we will be handing victory to Labour at the next general election. Keir Starmer will be hoping for a 1997-style swing in female voters and the way things are going, he may well get his wish.

Despite our electoral success, in 2015 and 2017, women under 35 were more likely to vote Labour. This was even more stark in 2019 when 47 per cent of men voted Conservative compared to only 42 per cent of women. Older women remain more likely than their male peers to vote Conservative, but we all know what happens if we rely on an ageing cohort for our electoral success.

In 2017, despite a female prime minister and a supposed end to the macho culture at No 10, it was women who found themselves persuaded by Jeremy Corbyn’s promises for a fairer society. More pay, better housing and safer communities. None of these are ‘women’s issues’ but Labour understood that women hold huge electoral power in their pencil-wielding hands, and they made a point of speaking directly to women, in a way that we did not.

The Conservative Party can no longer rely on women to get us over the line, and we shouldn’t be surprised. Women are more likely to be floating voters, less loyal to a party and an ideology, and more influenced by trust – or the lack of – in a leader. It may be the one example where past habits are no longer the predictor of future behaviour. We must try harder to win that trust back, and this will involve going back to basics – at least in terms of our understanding of women.

I’m not a fan of the ‘women and equalities’ brief, but I am pleased it is headed by someone who knows what a woman is. Liz Truss is a rare and brave Cabinet member for questioning Stonewall, publicly and forcefully, paving the way for politicians like me to speak out against a damaging form of trans ideology that places the feelings of men above the safety of women and children.

I don’t believe this is an exclusively women’s issue (it affects us all when gender and sex are conflated), but I do believe that if we are to win and retain women as voters we have to be clear that we know what a woman is. Today, many women who have previously voted Labour, Lib Dem or Green tell me they feel politically homeless. And the one belief those parties have in common: that anyone who calls themselves a woman must be treated as such – no questions asked. Where does that leave those of us who believe that being a woman is more than a ‘feeling’?

It is not too late to win back those who thought Corbyn was the answer or who believe Starmer would be better than Boris Johnson. We don’t need a pink bus or a manifesto for women, we just need to be clear that this Conservative government understands their concerns and their fears.

It was hugely encouraging to see last week’s additions to the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, including longer sentences for sexual offenders, more time to report domestic abuse and a new ‘breastfeeding voyeurism’ offence. I make the assumption here that there are no men who wouldn’t want to see their mother, wife or daughter given these extra protections, or wouldn’t actively push for these measures. Being the party of law and order appeals to men and women equally.

It was a Conservative government that gave women the vote on the same terms as men, the Conservative Party which has given the UK the only female prime ministers the country has known and now we is the only party which seems to know what a woman actually is. We must not miss the chance to show women all over the UK that their vote and their safety is and always will be safe with us.

Daniel Hannan: Don’t write off Johnson just yet

22 Dec

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere is a Conservative peer, writer and columnist. He was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, and is now President of the Initiative for Free Trade.

Here is a thought that, in the current climate, might seem almost recklessly counter-intuitive. Boris Johnson is doing a good job – better, in the circumstances, than his rivals would be doing. I don’t just mean that he is less bad than Keir Starmer or Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May. I mean that he is playing an almost impossible hand as well as could realistically be hoped.

I advance that proposition as a fiscal conservative and a lockdown sceptic. ConHome readers will be familiar with my frequent screeds against this government’s prodigality and illiberalism. But it is not enough to argue that the PM is spending too much or that the lockdowns have been too harsh. You have to show me someone who, given the present national mood, would be doing better.

Let’s deal, in order, with the three main charges against Johnson: that his administration is at best careless and at worst sleazy; that he was too ready to close the country down; and that, more generally, he has been absorbed by the Blob that he was supposed to extirpate.

Is Johnson really being undone by cheese and wine? No. What newspapers call “sleaze” is almost always a symptom rather than a cause of a government’s unpopularity. Just as the original “Tory sleaze” scandals in 1993 reflected rage over the ERM fiasco, and just as the 2009 MPs’ expenses revelations followed the financial crisis, so the current furores about parliamentary standards and illicit gatherings in Downing Street and flat redecorations are a chiefly a sign that the benefit of the doubt has been lost.

Six months ago, Johnson could painlessly have replaced the parliamentary standards commissioner on grounds that she seemed to have a penchant for going after Eurosceptics and that, in any case, the processes themselves were flawed.

Likewise, he could have advanced a perfectly credible defence of the (alleged) get-togethers in Downing Street. He might have pointed out, for example, that a glass of wine after a day in a shared office is hardly a party. He could have brandished the image of himself conducting a quiz at his computer as clear evidence that he was following the rules (how bizarre, and yet how telling, that it should be seen as somehow dodgy). He could have argued that, if sleaze means using public office for private gain, then using private money to do up a state-owned flat is ezaels – the precise opposite of sleaze.

If this were really about alleged corruption, the PM would have little to worry about. Voters sense that he is the least venal of men. His manner, his car, his suits – all tell the same story, namely that this is a bloke with no interest in owning valuable things. Yes, voters might see him as shambolic, light on detail, reluctant to moralise. But these attributes were priced in before the 2019 election.

In his short book on Winston Churchill, Johnson lists that great man’s various cock-ups – Gallipoli, the Gold Standard, backing Edward VIII during the abdication crisis – and notes that none of them ruled him out of contention. Why? Because, however chaotic or over-exuberant he could appear, no one ever accused him of lining his pockets. As for the subject, so for his biographer.

If not sleaze, then, what? The obvious answer, for many, is the lockdown. A man who used to write wonderful Telegraph columns about liberty, and whose editorial line at The Spectator was solidly anti-nanny state, has confined us in our homes, closed businesses and seen a massive commensurate increase in spending.

All true, alas. But – and I write as someone who spoke and voted against Plan B in Parliament last week – who would have done better? Even with the Plan B restrictions, Britain is more open than almost any other country. Why? Because Johnson ignored the doom-mongers and unbolted on July 19.

It is worth recalling how much criticism he got at the time. It was “dangerous” and “unethical” according to 122 scientists who signed an anti-Johnson letter in The Lancet, “reckless” according to Starmer, who feebly tried to get #JohnsonVariant trending. Yet infections, hospitalisations and fatalities fell – to the almost literal disbelief of commentators who, for a while, reported the opposite.

Nor was it just commentators who expected the worst. Modellers at Warwick University forecast at least 1,000 deaths a day (in the event, the highest daily toll was 188). SAGE told us that daily hospital admissions would be between 2,000 and 7,000 (the highest daily total was 1,086). Neil Ferguson predicted 100,000 infections a day (they peaked at 56,688).

Now tell me, my fellow lockdown-sceptics, how many other politicians would have resisted that pressure? How many would have done the same on Monday, in the face of an almost hysterical media campaign for a new lockdown?

Again and again, Johnson emerges as a level-headed optimist. Those leaked Cummings WhatsApp messages, intended to put him in a bad light, in fact show him doing precisely what he should be doing, namely taking a stand for liberty and demanding overwhelming evidence before he shifts his ground.

What, though, of the third complaint, the one that I suspect most animates ConHome readers, namely that Johnson has squandered an 80-seat majority and that, all in all, we might as well have had Starmer?

Oh, come off it. Would Starmer have delivered Brexit? Would he have signed free trade agreements with 70 countries? Would he be privatising Channel 4 and appointing a non-socialist to run the BBC? Would he keep our statues standing or stiffen criminal sentences?

Would he be legislating to stop travellers trespassing on private land? Or to return failed asylum seekers without endless vexatious appeals? Would he have opted out of the EU’s vaccine procurement programme? Would he be creating freeports? Would he beef up our defences or pursue AUKUS – a deal he has actually condemned as warmongering?

Let’s put the question another way. Who is enjoying the PM’s discomfort? Labour and the Lib Dems, obviously. But also the European Commission, Emmanuel Macron, Rejoiners, woke academics – everyone, in short, who wants to see Brexit Britain fail.

As a free-market conservative, I am in despair about a lot things right now. The debt level, the retreat into protectionism, the demand for the smack of firm government. But these things are consequences of the pandemic. If you want to blame someone, blame whoever caused the original Wuhan outbreak. The idea that Johnson, of all people, is getting an authoritarian kick out of our misery is too silly for words. We are pretty much the freest country in Europe. Merry Christmas!

Dean Machin: Policymakers must understand the reasons people go to university – or else educational reforms will be resented

13 Dec

Dean Machin is Head of Public Policy at the University of Portsmouth. He is a former philosopher who has advised David Willetts and written a report on data-sharing for the Social Mobility Commission.

It is the increasingly settled wisdom that universities are failing to deliver yet they are more popular than ever. Why?

Putting aside conspiracy theories about universitiesingenious ways to inveigle young people into their clammy embrace, part of the explanation must be that, university apart, the options for school-leavers are poor. But we won’t change what school-leavers aspire to without understanding why university is so attractive, particularly to disadvantaged young people.

The Apprenticeship Levy, which unintentionally led to a decline in intermediate and advanced apprenticeships at the same time as a significance increase in higher apprenticeships, highlights how policy can misfire when policymakers do not understand people’s motivations. A party that has always seen itself as working with the grain of human nature should remember this.

It’s about taking control of your future, not just productivity

The Centre for Policy Studies recently proposed a package of measures to incentivise the kind of training and education that will make both individuals and the country richer in the long run. The pre-supposed purpose of university is to improve productivity. Courses that do not this should be taken at students’ “own risk. Whether this is the ‘right’ purpose of a mass university system is beside the point: if reforms based on this premise jar with why people choose university, perverse outcomes will follow and many young people will be left frustrated and angry.

As any university recruiter will tell you, there are a whole raft of often idiosyncratic reasons why anyone chooses university or one university over another. But some generalisations are possible.

First, university is a fairly permanent aspiration. In 2010 the Millennium Cohort Study found that 97 per cent of mothers of seven year olds wanted their children to go to university. A more recent survey found that 65 per cent of parents with children under 10, and 70 per cent of parents with children 1115, want their children to go to university.

Second, through UCAS there is a well-designed and relatively efficient national system to turn young people’s occasionally vague aspirations to university into effective applications. There should almost certainly be some similar system for further education and apprenticeships.

Third, school leavers have few good alternatives to university but – and this is the central point – for disadvantaged young people, university is by a long way their best bet. The state pays upfront for their education and offers (means-tested) living-costs – weighted to enable them to move to another town or city. There is no comparable level of support for any other option.

If you do not live in a place that offers many economic opportunities, and if you have few financial resources and little social capital (so no friendly aunt in Islington to provide lodging while you find your way in the media), university is your best bet to reduce the degree to which your background determines your future.

Francis the Train Guy recently found social media fame because of his infectious passion for trainspotting. When interviewed, he cited university as giving him the confidence to be open about what is generally viewed as a tedious pass-time. He contrasted the liberating effect of university with the pressure to conform at school and sixth form.

For Francis, it was trainspotting and for some others it will be their sexuality. For most, though, it will be an ambition to be something that perhaps their parents find incomprehensible, or that no-one in their background has ever seen as feasibly achievable. In his speech ‘What is education for?Michael Gove put the general point rather well. Education has an emancipatory, liberating, value. … I believe education allows individuals to become authors of their own life story. Education helps you take control of your own life.

Is emancipation the state’s business?

Life is not sustained by productivity increases alone and having greater control over your own life is something citizens can demand of their politicians. Public funding for this is also uniquely valuable for disadvantaged young people – those with little social and financial capital behind them. More advantaged young people might not need state support to see the world as full of opportunities, to develop self-confidence, or to make their aspirations effective. Disadvantaged young people almost certainly will. Narrowing university funding only to areas that make people more productive would level down, not up.

So what?

While this argument reinforces Government wisdom to provide alternatives to university – different people will become authors of their own story in different ways – it also highlights the need for policymakers to understand the varied reasons that draw people to university. Without this, well-intentioned reforms might have perverse consequences and be resented. Attempts to push people on to technical courses at local further education colleges, for example, who might otherwise leave home for university (possibly to study the creative arts!) could end up being as popular as Jeremy Corbyn.

When describing the liberating benefits of university, the Train Guy made no mention of the subject he studies (engineering if you are interested). The benefits of university are not reducible to the economic returns of studying a particular subject. If they were it would be very difficult to explain the 2021 HEPI Survey finding that while 25 per cent of those surveyed would have changed course or university, only eight-nine per cent wished they had not gone at all.

Those who think is this all is nonsense and that investment in universities must succeed or fall on the basis of productivity increases should note one thing. To implement their view not only will policy have to change but so will people. Young people must start to want different things. It has always been a standard critique of left-wing parties that their policies would work if only the people were different.

Finally, and more practically, the foregoing identifies a test for the Government’s post-18 education reforms: do reforms give disadvantaged young people those with little social and financial capital a greater chance to be “authors of their own life story” or just the chance to be more productive? Answering this question will offer a very good guide to which reforms will work and which will not.

Sarah Ingham: Under Johnson, the Marie Antoinette of our times, a Labour government is no longer unimaginable

10 Dec

Sarah Ingham is author of The Military Covenant: its impact on civil-military relations in Britain.

For someone who aspired to being world king, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has turned out to be more like France’s Louis XV, who predicted ‘Après moi, le deluge’.

“After me, the flood” has nothing to do with the Government’s obsession with carbon net zero. Let’s hope this fixation reached its zenith at last month’s preening eco-fest, COP26, also known as Davos on the Clyde. Instead, the failures of the reign of King Louis (1710-1774) paved the way for the French Revolution of 1789. Whether the monarch was anticipating or was indifferent to the chaos which would follow him is usually only of academic concern.

Close to the second anniversary of the 2019 election victory which delivered a landslide majority of 80, the Prime Minister’s own seeming indifference to the plight of the people of this country is only rivalled by that of Louis’ granddaughter-in-law, Marie Antoinette, to her subjects. Let them eat cake? Let their children, like 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, die alone. Let their frail elderly be unvisited in care homes. Let their weddings be postponed. Let their churches, temples, synagogues and mosques be closed.

Patterson, Peppa Pig, parties at No 10 and Plan B. During the past few weeks, Johnson has not so much crashed the car into a ditch as sent it over a cliff where it somersaults to the ground before exploding into a fireball. Never mind unforced, his errors appear so wilful, it has to be asked whether he is up to the job of being PM – or indeed even wants it.

“There is no Plan B” – you wish. On Wednesday, more Covid-related restrictions on daily life were unveiled. The timing was reminiscent of the United States’ 1998 bombing of a factory in Sudan, assumed to be Bill Clinton’s very own diversionary tactic to distract from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The Conservatives are supposed to be the party of business, enterprise and wise stewardship of the economy. The Institute of Economic Affairs suggests the latest Covid measures will cost Britain £4 billion a month. And the Government clearly views the hospitality sector as below the salt, despite contributing almost £60 billion in gross value added to the British economy in 2019. Hammering it in the run-up to Christmas for the second successive year could be the final straw for many weakened businesses. Let them go bust.

There should be no Plan B. Omicron might well be a live vaccine, bestowing natural immunity following a mild cold-like infection. Instead of viewing the variant as a possible blessing, we’re back to more masks, tests, vaccines passports and Working From Home. As ConservativeHome revealed earlier this week, WFH has turned out to be less than optimal for the Foreign Office or for desperate Afghans.

The Government’s response to Covid has been flawed from the get-go: disproportionate, panicked and heedless of collateral damage. It would have been better off consulting Mystic Meg than Professor Neil Ferguson and his ilk. SAGE should have been sacked long ago. Its advice has not only crashed the British economy but failed to prevent 146,000 Covid-related deaths.

The massive structural flaws within the state apparatus which the pandemic has revealed would have been a toxic inheritance for any leader. Post-Brexit Britain can no longer use Brussels as an excuse for mismanagement and burdensome red tape. The country needs a leader with the vision and drive to implement wholesale reform, not least of the Civil Service. We need another Thatcher to solve problems like the NHS: instead we get Johnson who ineffectively throws money at them, raising the tax burden to its highest and most unConservative level since the Second World War. Let them be poorer.

Anyone who has been out on the campaign trail with Johnson will testify to his charisma and the feel-good he conjures up among voters on the rainiest of days. However, his 2019 victory was not down to his celebrity or distinctive cartoon-like silhouette which fascinates small children or to his jokes.

Getting Brexit done was about more than Britain leaving the EU. By opting for Leave in 2016, voters signalled their demand for wholesale change within this country, only to be ignored and insulted by the Remainer political establishment – that includes you, Keir Starmer – who wanted to cling to the status quo. The Red Wall turned blue two years ago because Boris seemed to be on its voters’ side: instead of despising them, he got them.

Those voters are now asking where is Plan A. And whether it includes indulging the eco-loons of Insulate Britain, putting out the welcome mat for illegal migrants, ripping out gas boilers and imposing £1.4 trillion in costs to get the country to net zero. Where are Conservative principles in all this? Governing by focus group is not governing at all.

Blowing up voters’ goodwill, no Jeremy Corbyn to bash, Brexit done … MPs are surely weighing up whether Johnson is an asset or a liability. Next week’s result in North Shropshire should tell them.

The parties at No10 are the ultimate in toxic do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy. This is a different order of magnitude from Barnard Castle and the handsy Hancock trysts. Voters are not going to forget or forgive. For many, it’s too close to dancing on graves.

Johnson’s always shaky moral authority is ebbing away. There is already a suspicion that the PM and his wife stretched the rules (or was it the guidance?) last Christmas Day. Should they have stuck two fingers up at voters by going along to the knees-ups at the No10 frat house, it’s game over.

A three-week lockdown has turned into 21 months of state inference in our daily lives, with our hard-fought freedoms trashed by sub-prime officials and ministers. Liberty is the core Conservative value. It would be poetic justice if the Prime Minister were brought down by the statist rules he introduced.

The hubris, self-indulgence and lack of seriousness in Downing Street is typified by a melodrama over a makeover, involving the Electoral Commission in choices about wallpaper.

Thanks to the current chaotic regime, a Labour government is no longer unimaginable. Does Johnson care, or is he actually wanting to spend more time with his new family and with making Netflix documentaries? Après moi, le deluge.

Ryan Bourne: It’ll take decades, not years, to determine whether Brexit was a success

1 Dec

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

“What would need to happen for ‘Economists for Brexit’ to become ‘Economists Against Brexit’?” the FT’s Chris Giles asked us in July 2016.

It was a good question. And some economically-minded leavers seem near their switching threshold already. Fraser Nelson last week wrote of his disappointment that an ‘open’ leave of expansive free trade deals and deregulation isn’t being delivered by Boris Johnson.

Britain is failing the “testable thesis” of Global Britain, he argued, with the limited ambition of re-heated EU trade deals, modest trade liberalisation with allies such as Australia, and stasis on data and financial regulation leaving him asking: did I vote the wrong way?

For classical liberal Remainers, of course, a free-market Brexit was always a delusion. David Gauke argues it was an anti-Thatcherite endeavour by definition. By erecting new trade barriers with Europe and removing constraints against interventionist industrial policies, our EU exit repudiated the 1980s revolution. Those who supported Brexit for free-market reasons were misguided, as current events confirm.

Prospects for a classical liberal economic revival are undoubtedly bleak for the near future. Nevertheless, Nelson and Gauke’s conclusions seem to me startlingly premature about Brexit’s overall legacy. And the reason why relates to the answer I gave to Giles’s question five years’ ago: the substantive issue in the Brexit referendum was not “what will we do?” immediately after leaving but “who will decide what is done?”

As such, it’s a category error to think “oh, if Johnson does X or Y, then Brexit will have been a mistake/a roaring success.” Brexit is a major shift in our governing system that can only really be judged by looking at comparative outcomes between Britain and the EU over decades, not years.

Brexit, in other words, is a major constitutional change in where decisions are made and who makes them. It was not a simple policy question. Yes, these repatriated powers can be used for good or ill and how they are deployed will wax and wane depending on the zeitgeist at any given time. But Brexit’s success or failure hinges on whether, overall, the institutions of British Parliamentary democracy produce better outcomes over long periods than a Brussels bureaucracy would have.

As a major constitutional change, it’s just as erroneous to judge Brexit by a few initial trade policy decisions as it would be to judge American independence in, say, 1785, or post-communism reform in Eastern Europe in 1995, or UK EEC membership in 1978. As Johnson was a leading leaver, it’s natural to conflate his agenda with Brexit itself. But that is to mistake the current policy winds as immutable laws that will forever dominate our political economy.

Gauke’s take is particularly misguided, because it simply looks at the timeline of what has happened post-Brexit and ignores the broader context of trade policy around the world. The U.S. hasn’t Brexited, but adopted large tariff increases under President Trump anyway, which have been maintained by a Biden administration that is also beefing up “Buy American” rules.

The EU, likewise, is adopting an aggressive anti-American agenda against Big Tech, while Emmanuel Macron has been the driving force of a pan-European protectionism that uses the veil of environmental laws for keeping out poor countries’ agricultural products.

Now it would be churlish to imply that Brexit wasn’t supported by some on protectionist grounds, nor that the act of Brexit hasn’t facilitated some protectionism. But in the broader global context, the free trade rhetoric of the UK government, and Tory member support for vocal free-traders, is an anomaly. And even if the Government’s actions on trade don’t always live up to it, the long-term question is whether Britain will end up more open on trade than the relevant counterfactual where we remained within an EU, not some nirvana that doesn’t exist.

At the time of the press conference, Giles interpreted my argument on this line of reasoning as a faith-based argument for Brexit. Economists for Brexit appear to think Brexit cannot be a bad move, he concluded, because it was merely the freedom to make decisions. Even if Brexit went wrong and led to a socialist Britain, it was the politicians to blame – not Brexit itself. “From that I conclude the group doesn’t really have much of an open mind,” Giles concluded.

But that’s not what this argument says. Some leavers are no doubt dewy-eyed for national democracy in all aspects of life. Giles Fraser has said he’d support Brexit on a point of principle, whatever the consequences. I remember talking to a senior Vote Leave staffer who similarly said he’d rather a long Corbyn premiership in a sovereign Britain than a Conservative government within the EU.

Yet that’s not why free-marketeers supported Brexit, nor the best liberal case for leave. No, the best case said that, over the long-term, Brexit would lead to better outcomes for openness, economic freedom, and liberty here than with Britain in the EU precisely because of the institutional differences between the two.

It would obviously be great if we were making inroads with a free-trading agenda and meaningful regulatory reform. The key question though is whether we were more likely to get that over time in or outside of an EU that itself will be changing.

Despite recent events, I would still take that long-term Brexit bet. The British Parliamentary system, for all its faults, has been shown to error-correct substantively when it’s clear major government mistakes are made, in a way the institutional stasis of the EU often prevents. The prospects for better governance reform here are only heightened by politicians no longer being able to hide behind blaming Brussels for what are usually domestic errors.

I still think Britons’ broad regulatory instincts are more permissive than seen collectively in Brussels (as evidenced by the faster vaccine approval and the more liberal approach to genetically modified foods). So even if active deregulation proves politically infeasible, more open regulatory frameworks on new issues, such as AI, driverless cars, and future service industries can leave us better off than if ensnared in Brussels’ orbit.

What’s more, global markets are more likely to discipline small countries towards attractive tax, trade, regulatory and migration systems – changes often hard to make when coordinating with 28 states first.

Of course, I could be wrong and so in 30 years’ time writing mea culpas admitting Brexit was a fundamental error. But it seems hasty for Brexiteers to want to write-off a major constitutional change less than two years in, or indeed for Remainers to be unable to contemplate a world where the EU is not the absolute pinnacle of economic dynamism forever.

Daniel Hannan: Forget Rayner and ‘scum’. It was Reeves’ interview this week that revealed why Labour is unelectable.

29 Sep

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere is a Conservative peer, writer and columnist. He was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, and is now President of the Initiative for Free Trade.

The moderates’ response was more telling than Angela Rayner’s original outburst. Calling Conservatives “scum” is hardly a new departure for Labour, as anyone who has been at either party conference will attest.

Indeed, an anthropologist coming new to the peculiar dialect of the British Left might assume that “Toriskum” was their standard word for people outside their tribe.

Rayner had simply rattled off one of those compound phrases that Lefties use: homophobic, racist, misogynist, absolute pile of banana republic Etonian piece of scum.”

OK, Etonian was a colourful addition (and a questionable one if the speaker’s intention was to suggest that you shouldn’t categorise or “other” whole groups of people) but, apart from that, it was a standard collocation: a stringing together of words that are so often placed next to one another that the speaker isn’t really thinking about their individual meanings.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell calls it duckspeak, a term of approbation in Party circles, meaning “to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all.”

Much more interesting was the way in which supposedly grown-up, centrist Labour front-benchers reacted when asked about their deputy leader’s tirade. Well, they said, Angela might have used slightly OTT language, but her essential point was sound: this was indeed a hateful administration.

Typical was the interview given by Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, on Monday’s Today Programme. Nick Robinson asked her whether that list of adjectives was entirely fair when the Tories had had two female prime ministers, when two of the four great offices of state were held by women and two by British Asians, and when the education and health secretaries were also Asian, the business secretary black and so on. Here is how she answered:

“Look at what happened during the pandemic, where if you’re from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background, you’re more likely to get the virus, more likely to die from the virus. The virus exposed some of those divisions and inequalities in society. I do understand why a lot of people feel very angry with this government. I feel angry with them as well.”

Robinson let it pass and, as far as I can tell, no one else has picked it up. But that response struck me as far more revealing than Rayner’s rant. Here was Labour’s Shadow Chancellor – in a BBC interview, not in some high-spirited speech to activists – accusing the Conservatives of causing needless deaths on grounds of race.

Whether they were doing so through neglect or out of some hidden Nazi impulse was left unsaid. But the differential in death rates was, in Reeves’ view, plainly ministers’ fault. Her suggestion that it was proper to “feel very angry with this governmentwas a straight imputation of blame.

It is true that, especially in the first wave, ethnic minorities were more vulnerable. No one knows exactly why. Epidemiologists have proposed different theories. Some link the higher fatality rate to being in more exposed occupations; others to multi-generational households; others to genetics; others to a greater incidence of pre-existing conditions; others to being a more urban population; others to vitamin D deficiency, which is more common in dark-skinned people at relatively sunless latitudes. More recently, differential rates in vaccine take-up have been identified as a factor, though that obviously didn’t apply during the first wave.

Maybe one or more of these explanations are correct; maybe it’s something else entirely. I have no idea. Neither have you. Neither has Reeves. But she thought nothing of blaming the deaths on Tory racism – an astonishingly serious charge to level if you’re not in a position to back it up.

My purpose is not to have a go at the Shadow Chancellor. In most interviews, she has struck me as pleasant, polite and personable. That’s the point. So natural is it in Labour circles to assume that people to your Right are murderous bigots that even the sensibles do it; and, when they do, no one bats an eyelid.

To see how odd it is to level such accusations, consider the related question of whether Covid is more dangerous to men or to women. Here, the differential is far greater than among ethnic groups. Although the sexes are equally likely to catch the virus, men are nearly three times more likely to need intensive treatment, and are significantly more likely to die.

Again, there are competing theories as to why, though here there is a clear front-runner, namely differences in immune response systems which make women less vulnerable to some viruses.

No one, to my knowledge, has tried to argue that the higher death-rate among people who carry a Y-chromosome is the result of sexism, and rightly so – it would be an absurd proposition.

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that the differential had been the other way around, and that women had been likelier to lose their lives. Would Labour MPs have followed the science and concluded that biological differences were beyond the power of the state, or would they have blamed Tory misogyny? I think we all know the answer.

Here, in a nutshell, is why Labour is struggling to make progress. It keeps stirring up a culture war that, in present circumstances, it can’t win. Its obsession with identity politics – organisers of Labour meetings in Brighton were declining to take questions from white men on grounds that they needed to talk less and listen more – puts it hopelessly at odds with the majority of British people.

It is possible, I suppose, that the majority will eventually shift, as woke youngsters grow up, carrying their values with them. Britain might end up like Canada (or at least English-speaking Canada) where there is genuine electoral demand for a measure of identity politics.

But that shift, if it happens, is many years away. In the meantime, the ugly combination of wokery and self-righteousness is as repulsive to the electorate as Corbynism was.

What an extraordinary state of affairs when our second party votes, by 70 per cent to 30, to condemn the defence pact with Australia and the United States as “a dangerous move that will undermine world peace”.

How shameful when the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, the man aspiring to lead the next government, supports that motion. What a bizarre situation when he cannot bring himself to say that someone with a cervix is a woman.

I feel almost sorry for Keir Starmer, caught as he is between the electorate and his aggressively pacifist, bitterly internationalist, viciously tolerant activists. Still, what a needless and self-inflicted row. Never mind the cervix, Sir Keir. Consider, more immediately, the arse, the elbow and the difference between them.

Kristian Niemietz: Don’t underestimate the political power of the Millennial Socialist

26 Aug

Kristian Niemietz is Head of Political Economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

“Hey guys, wanna feel old? I’m 40. You’re welcome”, Macaulay Culkin – the actor who is most famous for having played the role of Kevin McCallister in the Christmas classics Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2 (1992) – tweeted last summer. His tweet received over half a million retweets, and over three million likes, presumably because it created a nice bit of cognitive dissonance in the minds of millions of people.

If, like me, you have been watching the movies every Christmas for as long as you can remember – something in your mind will militate against picturing “Kevin” as a middle-aged man. It just does not compute. The more rational part of your brain will be quite capable of working out that 2020 minus 1980 equals 40, but that will not stop the more intuitive part of your brain from screaming: No, Kevin is a boy! He cannot be 40! 

Something a bit like that has happened, collectively, to the Millennial generation as a whole, albeit more as a result of a semantic confusion. If Google Books Ngram Viewer is anything to go by, the word “Millennials” entered the English language at the end of the 1990s, and then began to take off in the mid-2000s. At some point, probably soon after, “Millennials” simply became a synonym for “very young people”.

At the time, this was, of course, entirely correct. Millennials are people who were born between the early 1980s and the mid-to-late 1990s, which means that when the term entered popular usage, the oldest Millennials were in their mid-20s, and the youngest ones were still children.

However, linguistic conventions, once established, develop inertia, and become hard to shift, even as the reality they try to describe changes. Today, the term “Millennial” still has the same connotations it had one and a half decades ago, but the people it describes have not stayed as young as they were then. Hey guys, wanna feel old? Some Millennials are 40. You’re welcome.

This is not just a matter of linguistic pedantry. The fact that we still use “Millennials” and “young people” synonymously seems to be causing some real confusion. As I show in my recent IEA report Left Turn Ahead?, over the past five years or so, there have been a flurry of surveys showing a rising popularity of socialist ideas among Millennials (as well as, increasingly, Generation Z). A generation, if not two generations, has turned against capitalism.

If you hold the uncool, unfashionable “OK Boomer” opinion that capitalism is a lot better than its reputation, this should be a cause for concern for you. And yet, oddly, people on the pro-capitalist side of the argument have not shown much interest in the rise of “Millennial Socialism”.

They usually brush it aside with phrases such as “The young have always gone through a socialist phase”, “They will grow out of it”, “It’s easy to be a socialist as long as mummy and daddy pay your bills”, “Wait until they start working”, “Wait until they start paying tax”, “Wait until they enter the real world”, and so on.

People who dismiss the rise of Millennial Socialism in this way seem to be picturing somebody in their late teens or early twenties. Because Millennials are 20 years old, and Kevin is a boy, right?

But what the survey data really shows is that socialist ideas are still just as popular among people in their early 40s as they are among people in their late teens. This does not mean that those views are set in stone, and that the Millennial generation is a lost cause for supporters of the market economy.

But it does mean that Millennial Socialism cannot be dismissed as an expression of youthful naivete, a lack of real-world experience, or as a passing phase. Rather, among politically engaged Millennials, socialist opinions have become default opinions. Default positions can be changed, but only with active efforts. They do not change on their own.

At the moment, Baby Boomers and the preceding generation – generations which tend to be more sceptical of socialist ideas – still outnumber Millennials and adult members of Generation Z. But already over the course of this decade, that lead is going to disappear, and turn into a solid Zoomer-Millennial majority.

If I were Jeremy Corbyn, I would try my luck again in a few years’ time. If demographics is destiny, the future belongs to the socialists.

Garvan Walshe: Just as in Hong Kong and Belarus, the UK has a duty to stand up for freedom in Tunisia

5 Aug

Garvan Walshe is a former national and international security policy adviser to the Conservative Party.

As in Belarus and Hong Kong, democratic freedoms are under attack in Tunisia. But 10 years after its revolution, the powers that be are weaker, and strong foreign support for Tunisians’ freedoms can tip the balance.

“I will not become a dictator” insisted Kais Saied, the Tunisian president, as he shut down parliament, put the army on the streets and stopped Al Jazeera broadcasting.

Not since Egyptian general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared in military uniform in the summer of 2013, denying that the events which would make him president were a coup, or when Jeremy Corbyn said he was “present but not involved” at a wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists, has North African denial been so implausible.

Tunisia is the last survivor of the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, but a decade on, its democracy is looking shaky. Ten years of fractious politics haven’t yielded the economic progress freedom was supposed to bring. The pandemic, and the disruption of the vital tourist industry it produced, has made things worse.

Tunisia is supposed to have a political system where power is shared between parliament and the president, but last week the president, a former academic who doesn’t belong to any political party, invoked emergency provisions of the constitution to suspend parliament for 30 days. But while the constitution allows periods of emergency presidential rule, they are conditional on the parliament being in session to keep an eye on him.

A constitutional court would have reaffirmed this, but one hasn’t been set up yet. In its absence, Saied, despite being a former professor of constitutional law, just used the security forces under his command for a power grab. Though he likened himself to de Gaulle, it would be fairer to compare him to Cromwell dismissing the Rump.

Nonetheless, unlike Sisi’s in Egypt, Saied’s coup looks far from a foregone conclusion. Elected with 72 per cent of the vote in 2019, Saied’s approval ratings have fallen to around 40 per cent, and it’s best to describe him as the single most popular figure in a crowded field.

The successor pparty to the old regime, known as the Free Destourians, heads the polls with around 30 per cent support, followed by the genuinely moderate post-Islamist Ennahda, with 20 per cent. Various left-wing and secularist groups, and Islamist groups make up the rest.

This contrasts with Egypt, where the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood were extreme, saw democracy as a means to an end, and against whom the Army was the only force in society capable of standing up to them. Unable to win on their own, Ennahda, who now describe themselves in as “Muslim Democrats” in conscious analogy with Angela Merkel’s CDU, have become moderate (a hardline faction split off to form its own “Dignity” party). Though Saied can argue that his opponents are dysfunctional, there is no threat of an Islamist takeover in Tunisia.

Islamist weakness has been reflected in the US position, with Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, insisting that Tunisia return to the “democratic path.” The US may also be motivated by concerns about increasing Chinese influence in the country, which is only 200 miles from Sicily.

The Foreign Office has so far been rather more perfunctory, issuing a statement so anodyne it is worthy of the department’s caricature in Yes, Prime Minister. There is a need to get a grip on the situation, and the Foreign Secretary should use the opportunity to lead.

Just as in Hong Kong and Belarus, the UK has a duty to stand up for freedom in Tunisia. It has been heavily involved in the democratic transition since 2011, supporting civil society, offering practical assistance and considerable sums of aid. Unlike France it is not burdened by colonial baggage there. And it has an opportunity to outflank the EU which is hampered by the requirement for unanimity in foreign affairs. The UK has an opportunity to convene a response by the world’s democracies.

The most important task is the resolution of the constitutional crisis and a return to the normal democratic process.

In the first instance, the army should be taken off the streets, and journalists be allowed to report openly. Parliament should be reconvened (after all that is what the Tunisian constitution requires even during an emergency), and the parliamentarians that have been arrested freed immediately.

In the medium term, agreement is needed on a constitutional court, and measures to ensure full international observation of future Tunisian parliamentary and presidential elections to ensure their legitimacy.

In the longer term, reforms are needed in Tunisia’s army, intelligence services and police, to ensure oversight by all elements of Tunisia’s political system, as is normal in presidential democracies. They may be under the command of the president, but need to be subject to laws enacted by the parliament compliance with which is monitored by parliament and enforced by the judiciary.

Finally, priority should be given to Tunisia’s economic recovery. The country is still extremely poor, despite reasonable levels of education, a large French-speaking population and a geographical location extremely close to the European market. A good investment climate and the rule of law should put it in a position to leapfrog its neighbours in Algeria and Morocco. Further aid needs to be made conditional on progress towards a stable, and free, political and business environment.

The only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab revolutions needs our help. Unlike in Hong Kong and Belarus, autocratic forces lack a powerful patron. Unlike in Egypt, choice isn’t between authoritarianism and Islamism. And unlike in Lebanon, the country has not been overtaken by sectarian dysfunction. We can make a difference in Tunisia. It would be unforgivable to take our eye off the ball.

Daniel Hannan: We should thank, not demonise, the patriots who donate to political parties

4 Aug

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere is a Conservative peer, writer and columnist. He was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, and is now President of the Initiative for Free Trade.

The Financial Times is becoming slightly unhinged in its dislike of Tories. The paper’s loyalties have always been mercurial: over my lifetime, it has endorsed all three parties. Having enthusiastically backed Tony Blair, it gave some support to the Coalition and then to Theresa May. But Brexit seems to have tipped it over the edge. Even when the alternative was Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, it could not bring itself to back Boris.

Now it has taken to insinuating that donations to political parties are somehow dodgy – an odd stance for a newspaper that still sees itself as a defender of the private sector. For several days, the FT has been running news articles, features and comment pieces that vaguely suggest – without actually alleging any impropriety – that there is something suspect about the Conservative Party’s receipt of private money.

Property donors provide one-quarter of funds given to Tory party,” was Friday’s headline. Oh dear, we’re meant to think, not property donors! Not those johnnies who put roofs over our heads! It is a curious feature of our present discourse that, despite an acute housing shortage, developers can be presented as being almost on a level with arms dealers or pornographers.

The following day, it fired its second barrel: “Elite Tory donors club holds secret meetings with Johnson and Sunak,” was its lead story, followed up by pages of analysis inside.

Gosh. Secretive, eh? Bad enough that they’re property developers. But these, we learn, are furtive property developers. How did the FT find out about the donations of this sinister cabal? It turns out that they’re all registered with the Electoral Commission. Anyone can look them up. The organisation that happened to do so is an outfit called Transparency International whose Director of Policy (and evidently the driving force behind this report) is Duncan Hames, who is married to the former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and was himself the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham from 2010 to 2015.

Nothing wrong with any of that, obviously. Indeed, I have always had a soft spot for Swinson, who served her party with diligence and good humour, and whose dignified reaction when the SNP took her seat was a model of how to do it. But this was hardly a disinterested piece of research, as the FT must have known.

It is worth stepping back for a moment and reminding ourselves of some basic principles. First, there is nothing wrong with individuals giving money to things they support. I’m sure most ConHome readers give to charity, and I’d be surprised if most of us don’t also pay subs to our local Conservative Associations. If wealthier people make proportionately larger donations, God bless them. It must surely be better for the rich to support whatever causes they favour than to spend their cash on themselves.

We are, of course, rightly suspicious of oligarchy. I wouldn’t want a system where big donations bought policy changes, and neither would you. Such things can happen, even in Britain. Most of us remember the 1997 Bernie Ecclestone affair, in which the Formula One magnate gave Labour a million pounds in exchange for exempting his races from the ban on tobacco advertising. Fewer of us, for some reason, remember the 2009 cash-for-amendments scandal, in which two life peers asked for payments in return for moving legislation.

By any definition, both these were cases of straightforward corruption – that is, of politicians being paid to do things they would not otherwise have done. But such cases are extraordinarily rare in this country. Bad behaviour by our MPs tends to be rather more Pooterish, involving bath plugs or fumbling adulteries.

There is no suggestion that any Conservative donor has tried to buy favours. Indeed, far from seeking advantages for their own firms, these benefactors seem to be pushing for open competition. As the FT reports, with a hint of corporatist distaste, “the top donors are Thatcherite free marketeers, and they have no qualms about giving Boris a piece of their mind.” If so, good for them.

Which brings us to a second basic principle. Private donations are admirable whether or not we happen to agree with the cause being supported. One thing I have learned from social media is that there is an almost total overlap between people’s definition of “corruption” and their definition of “views with which I disagree”.

To see what I mean, consider the way Left and Right respectively treated the Koch brothers and George Soros. Depending on which side you were on, one was an example of high-minded generosity while the other was a conspiracy against the public weal.

ConHome readers should admire donors from all sides – philanthropists like Lord Sainsbury of Turville, for example, who, alongside vast charitable contributions, has given millions to Labour, the Lib Dems and various pro-EU outfits. We should likewise salute Keir Starmer’s ambition to increase the proportion of his party’s spending that comes from private contributions.

It must be better to live in a world in which rich people give their assets away. The alternative is a world in which we are forced to support political parties with our taxes. Quite apart from the tax bill being high enough already, this strikes me as morally repugnant. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

What applies to donors applies even more to the people who volunteer to fundraise for parties. Here is a truly thankless job. Make the slightest slip and you’ll be treated as a crook. Indeed, the chances are that you’ll be hounded and accused whatever you do. In 2012, the then Conservative treasurer, Peter Cruddas, had to resign following newspaper accusations that he had been peddling cash for access. He sued for libel and won substantial damages, but he was not reinstated and, nearly a decade on, the original story was still being used to keep him out of the House of Lords.

Cruddas comes close to living up to John Wesley’s injunction to “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”. Brought up in a council house in Hackney, he has set up a £100 million scheme to help kids from deprived backgrounds. Had he not also backed the Conservatives, he’d have been in the Lords years ago.

A similar campaign is now being waged against the party’s current Co-Chairman, Ben Elliot – again, a successful businessman who has given up a great deal of time to take on a role for which the only payment is abuse. He is the real target of the press campaign. The original allegations in the FT prompted a bizarre story in The Sunday Times which seemed to be based around the idea that there was some impropriety in his arranging for a wealthy donor to back one of the Prince of Wales’s charities.

Again, does anyone think it is a bad thing for successful people to volunteer as Elliot is doing? If he raised cash for Prince Charles’s good causes, we should applaud him. If he raises cash for the Conservatives (and he does, with extraordinary effectiveness) we should likewise applaud him.

We are in danger of driving public-spirited individuals out of politics altogether. The assault may come in the form of negative press, as with Cruddas and Elliot. It may come in the form of actual legal harassment, as with Alan Halsall, the big-hearted businessman who was pursued for three years by the electoral authorities after acting as the treasurer of Vote Leave (all the allegations were eventually shown to be nonsense, but the stress and the financial burden of those three years can never be undone).

A combination of partisanship and purse-lipped puritanism threatens to make politics a no-go area for patriots who want to support a cause bigger than themselves – whether on the Left or the Right.

So, just this once, let’s say it. Thanks to everyone who is prepared to act on principle. Thanks to all those who put their money where their mouths are. And thanks, especially, to those who give up their time and risk their reputations to make the system work. Without you, our public life would be colder, meaner and smaller.

Emily Carver: Young people overwhelmingly think socialism is a good idea. Access to capital is the only way to change that.

7 Jul

Emily Carver is Media Manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs

It’s a cliché that young people are all a bunch of idealistic lefties. But, as with most clichés, there’s more than a grain of truth to the stereotype.

According to new polling commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs, over two thirds of young people (those aged 16 to 34) say they would like to live in a socialist economic system, and 75 per cent say they agree with the statement that “socialism is a good idea”.

On the face of it, for those of us who favour a free market economy – or value the fact that we don’t yet live in a socialist command-and-control economy – these figures are alarming.

Does this mean that we could soon face left-wing governments ad infinitum? Is the legacy of Corbynism still very much alive and kicking?

Young people certainly have a perception of socialism as something that is harmless, fluffy and, crucially, a viable – and preferable – alternative to capitalism.

As the survey finds, millennials and Generation Z associate the ideology predominantly with positive-sounding terms, such as “workers”, “public”, “equal” and “fair”, whereas they associate capitalism with terms such as “exploitative”, “unfair”, “the rich” and “corporations”.

It would appear, therefore, that the attraction to socialism is, by and large, an issue of perception rather than of any strongly held conviction.

The survey data supports this and shows that while anti-capitalist, pro-socialist attitudes may be widespread, they are also thinly spread. When presented with an anti-capitalist statement, the vast majority agree with it – for example, 78 per cent of young people blame capitalism for Britain’s housing crisis. However, when presented with a diametrically opposed pro-capitalist statement, the survey often found net approval for that statement too.

The very fact that there are young people who can agree with mutually exclusive statements suggests that support for socialist arguments is to an extent – if not largely – superficial.

Shockingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, only five per cent were able to associate socialism with Venezuela. One could reasonably conclude, therefore, that a fundamental lack of historical knowledge and understanding of how left-wing ideology plays out in practice is more than contributing to this belief that socialism would be preferable to the status quo.

In many ways, it’s hardly surprising that left-wing arguments have become the default position for so many young people in this country. It’s no secret that our education system – schooling and higher education – is influenced, if not dominated, by left-wing thinking.

This is not to say that young people have been purposefully indoctrinated – at least in the main. Rather, left-wing views are spread by a process of osmosis: if anti-capitalist views are consistently presented in a positive light, as being high-status, caring and humanitarian, it’s perfectly foreseeable that young people will internalise these attitudes.

Coupled with the increasingly prevalent attitude that a person’s political views dictate their moral value, we’re now in a situation where many young people appear unable to tolerate alternative viewpoints altogether – disagreement is often seen as the equivalent to personal criticism or invasion of their “safe space”.

This is no exaggeration. A new survey by pollster Dr Frank Luntz confirms what many knew to be true anecdotally: 53 per cent have ended a friendship because of political opinions. Those au fait with generation Z, at least on social media, will know that cancel culture is openly encouraged. To some it is seen as noble to cancel relatives or friends who hold views that are deemed “unacceptable”.

Much like how St Augustine wrote in his memoirs “Oh Lord make me chaste – but not yet”, it seems many young socialist Brits are able to talk the talk but are not quite ready to walk the walk. It is, of course, far easier to espouse anti-capitalist views than to disengage with all that the market economy has to offer. And with the likes of Meghan and Harry as role models, they’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all about the words and not the deeds.

When it comes to assessing real life policies, young people are also perhaps a little less socialist than they let on. According to survey data by Redfield & Wilton, when asked how the government should seek to balance the public finances, support for cutting spending is actually highest among young people: 60 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 51 per cent of 25-34 year olds believe this should be prioritised over tax increases. Not exactly what you’d expect from those committed to left-wing economics.

Add this to the fact that the upcoming generations are some of the most entrepreneurial in history and the water muddies further. Far from the image of lazy and entitled millennials, many studies have revealed that the majority of young people actively want to start businesses and be their own boss.

For this reason, it’s clear all hope is not lost. Some young people may look to the likes of self-proclaimed “communist” Ash Sarkar or social justice warrior stroke actress Emily Ratajowski as political icons, but their actions and priorities show a far more complex relationship with capitalism.

For years the adage that “If you’re not a socialist before you’re 25, you have no heart; if you are a socialist after 25, you have no head” has led to a complacency that socialists will grow out of it as soon as they reach a level of responsibility. The data no longer shows this to be the case.

Negative feeling towards capitalism is only going to strengthen unless young people feel they are being served by “the system”. While it may be over-regulation, NIMBYism, and poor immigration planning that are to blame for the lack of affordable homes, young people think capitalism is at fault. It makes logical sense that if millennials and Gen Z-ers, even with professional jobs, have no real capital or assets, they’ll continue to reject capitalism.

An increasing number of young people feel badly let down by the higher education system, with over 45 per cent of recent graduates last year working in non-graduate roles. Coupled with stagnant wages, and a cultural obsession with left-wing social justice issues, it’s no wonder that so many have romanticised an ideology that promises equality and fairness.

Young people may post infographics on their social media accounts about inequality and how billionaires are to blame for all our ills, but they’re also a generation that celebrates entrepreneurialism and success. In order to turn the tide, we’ve got to think big. Fix the housing crisis, the higher education system and tackle our common enemy: statist crony capitalism.