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Shane Greer: The challenge for young conservatives

Shanegreer02_1 Shane (blog) is a member of the Conservative Party, and is currently interning at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

The left was never right, but it is dominant.

Young conservatives throughout the United Kingdom face a massive challenge, a battle which must be fought. That challenge is to dislodge the leftist dominance which saturates University life, and we owe it to our philosophy to win.

From student politics, to student media the left’s grip is all consuming. For proof of this one need look no further than the NUS ban on the sale of Nestlé products. So untrusting are they of individual liberty that through central planning, leftist dominated student unions across the UK attempt to control behavior. Rather than allowing the free-market to determine what products are, or are not purchased they choose to enforce their ‘higher morality’ through quasi-legislative diktats. Indeed their dictatorial machinations are so odious as to bring to mind Montesquieu, who as Bastiat indicated, considered “…persons, liberties, property – mankind itself – to be nothing but materials for legislators to exercise their wisdom upon.”

At first sight one could be forgiven for believing the challenge to be insurmountable; but not so. We need only look to the success of conservative activism on university campuses throughout the United States for encouragement. And in doing so the Leadership Institute should be our guiding light when asking how we can achieve similar successes.

In this, the first part of a three part piece for CF Diary, I will provide, in the context of the present discussion, a brief overview of the work of the Leadership Institute, and the importance of supporting the replication of this work in the UK. In the second and third parts, which will follow in the coming weeks, I shall address, at length, the fight for control of student government, and the battle against leftist dominance in student media respectively.

The Institute teaches that being right in the sense of being correct is not enough to win. Indeed the experience of conservatism in the UK bears out the truth of this maxim. Rather if one is to win, one must be proficient in the use of political technology; the organisational and communications technology which determines political success. It is precisely this knowledge which the Institute seeks to impart to young conservatives throughout the US, and if we are to be successful in our own battle against the campus left it must be taught to young conservatives across the UK as well.

In its pursuit of this goal the Leadership Institute would be more accurately described as a ‘do-tank’ rather than a think-tank. Instead of simply disseminating information on political technology in the form of research papers, the Leadership Institute actively engages with young conservatives, helping them to further their conservative principles on campus.

As you read this article, 40 full-time field representatives are traveling throughout the US, visiting university campuses to help students set up conservative groups. As a direct result of the efforts of these field representatives over 1,000 conservative groups have been formed, and many more are to come.

Of course the mere existence of such groups is not enough to ensure victory for conservatism in the battle currently under discussion. As has already been indicated, proficiency in the use of political technology is necessary if victory is to be clutched from the jaws of leftist absolutism. To equip these conservative students with the skills they need to take back student government and media from the left, the Leadership Institute provides training courses in campus campaigning, setting up student publications, and everything in between.

The nature of this training and its application in the UK will be addressed in the coming weeks. However in the context of this general overview the important lesson for British conservatives is this: “in politics, nothing moves unless it’s pushed.” It is not enough to simply have conservative student groups on campus. They must be given the training they need to be effective in the fight against the campus left.

The replication of conservative successes in US universities may be more achievable, and indeed closer than we think. Thanks to the network of Conservative Future groups, and Mark Clarke’s work to build this network further, we already have an army of young conservatives, who with the right training could turn the tide on campus. Moreover and crucially, thanks to Donal Blaney, we have an organisation, the Young Britons’ Foundation, ready to provide that training. But for the YBF to achieve the successes of the Leadership Institute we must recognise the need for these young conservatives to be trained in political technology. Only if we embrace the work of the YBF, and get behind its efforts to equip young conservatives with the tools they need to win, can victory be achieved.

Related link: BBC Radio 5 interview with Shane on US election night


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