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"We are not really Daily Mail Tories"

Ftweekendmag The FT magazine has a cover profile of Conservative Future today. Here are some of the mini-profiles sketched by Rob Blackhurst:

Patrick Sullivan: "Patrick Sullivan, known as “Puddles” or “Patch” to his friends. Sullivan is studying for a postgraduate degree in marketing. On first impressions he is the young fogey of the group – rotund and crumpled in a Churchillian way, an aficionado of the Prime Minister brand of snuff who was christened “Tory Boy” at university. Like all good Thatcherites, he was inspired by Friedrich Hayek’s demolition of socialism The Road to Serfdom. But although he seems like a throwback to the young Torydom of the 1980s, Sullivan is a true Cameronite. “The party has ditched a lot of the social conservatism,” he says. “We are not really Daily Mail Tories. If you take on a girl out on a date, you don’t spend the whole time slagging the date off. You are not going to get a second date. We are now trying to be nice to our dates.”"

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott (pictured on the cover): "She is 19, bisexual and wears a sharply tailored hounds-tooth overcoat that looks like it has been stolen from a member of the Human League. Her hair is sculpted into a severe pixie-cut, her Scottish skin is deathly pale and she speaks with a genteel Edinburgh Morningside accent. She has, she tells me, 45 pairs of shoes, but today is wearing kitten heels. Her incessantly bleeping personal organiser has been studded (or “pimped”) with pink plastic crystals. Beaumont-Bott is chiefly known as the founder of LGBTory (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Tory) – a social network which promotes “pro-gay policies” within the Conservative party. So far, with just 200 members, LGBTory seems not much more than a website with the party’s English Oak logo bedecked in the rainbow colours of Gay Pride. But it has been far from idle. LGBTory has held a stall at Gay Pride events throughout Britain."

Liza Chantelle: "it seems like I’ve stumbled across the Conservative party’s Paris Hilton. She has cherry-red false nails, striking extended eyelashes and describes everyone, including David Cameron, as “hot”. The best thing, she says, about Conservatives is the canapes. On her Facebook home page she says that Jesus is her “home-boy”. Everything she says seems layered in irony: “I’ve got a very sardonic humour,” Chantelle concedes. “I’m very intelligent. Sometimes you find yourself disguising that because it is just easier.” The 23-year-old Miss Jamaica runner-up from Harrow is now the face of the Conservatives’ latest leaflet. It features her in a tight T-shirt under the slogan “Your Country Needs You”. The photo wouldn’t look out of place in FHM magazine. She gives me a copy and admits: “They did ask if I had anything less tight.”"

Michael Rock: "“I’m exactly the kind of person who votes for us but isn’t a member of the party. I worked for a few years and didn’t go to university until I was 25. I don’t fit the stereotype at all.” I ask him to describe the average member of Conservative Future: “The average member is probably a graduate professional, aged 25, anti-EU, pretty much libertarian. But there has been a reversion back to a community feel where they do believe in social action.” But, though he’s anti-tribal, Rock’s views are far more libertarian than the next Conservative manifesto is likely to be. He believes that income tax should be replaced by a local sales tax, dislikes the fact that the government takes 40p in every pound of income, hates ID cards and distrusts what he sees as fear-mongering by the state: “I don’t believe in rule by fear – and that is what Labour have done. It’s just like Bush – this sense that we are under attack every single day.”"

Blackhurst's conclusion:

"On the evidence of my travels, the “decontamination of the Tory brand” is working. It’s hard to imagine fashionable young women and openly gay teenagers knocking on doors for the party a decade ago. And, having seen their party in opposition for 10 years, there is not yet a hint of hubris about them – or of the harsh slogans that the Young Conservatives seemed to relish in the 1980s. Most of the new members I met were concerned with a Cameronite agenda of ending family breakdown and generational poverty and safeguarding civil liberties. It’s impossible to imagine them using the word “sound”, as their 1980s equivalents did, to describe eye-watering views on everything from the repatriation of immigrants to the return of the gallows."

Read the full feature here.


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