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Benjamin Harris-Quinney: Young people should be deeply concerned by the nation’s economic future and position in the world


Benjamin Harris-Quinney is the Chairman of the Bow Group.

The people for whom low growth, increasing government debt, and high unemployment, should be the most sobering news are those who most often exhibit the least concern, and have the smallest voice when policy is being made.

Young people in Britain, more than any other demographic, should be deeply concerned by the nation’s economic future and position in the world.

The harsh reality for those born after the Thatcher years is that unless they are fortunate enough to be born into wealth and privilege, freedom to work, own property and reach aspirations will depend more on luck and less on hard work and ability.

As a generation we will be working less, earning less, owning less and paying our government much, much more, chiefly to service a debt legacy that we were not responsible for, nor benefitted from.

The only visible concern the nation has seen from its youth are the violent student and anti cuts protests, and riots, a perspective that is sadly and worryingly wrong in both philosophy and execution.

Winston Churchill famously said that if you are not a socialist in youth you have no heart, if you are not a conservative in adulthood you have no head, yet it would still be fair to ask where is the young Conservative voice, holding the government to account?

This week has seen the annual Conservative Future elections take place, and though Conservative Future has become an important part of the party’s campaign machine, what is most depressing is the lack of erudite debate or original thought on policy issues coming from young people in the party.

The problem of immaturity in youth politics has been infamously evident in that organisation, in OUCA, CUCA and indeed the Bow Group also. The immediate result of this is clear, the government is disinclined to engage with people that might be pictured a week later drunk, in inappropriate fancy dress, or engaged in a student politics knife fight in a struggle to gain irrelevant position.

In the long term the result is even more serious, it dissuades the most qualified people from getting involved in politics at a young age, perhaps forever, this is particularly evident for young women who seem even less inclined to play the high skulduggery, low stakes game of student and youth politics. It also means that the debate in universities, workplaces, and the nation as a whole is dominated by militant leftists operating with a union handbook who have, to their small credit, been far more able to vocalise.

What I hope the Bow Group can become again is an organisation that is able to professionalise the voice of the young and aspirant Conservatives who, in their political lives, want to talk less about the next social drinks and more about the next policy paper. For most young people it is a highly unattractive proposition that I make, but for those already engaged in Conservatism if we fail to make a serious contribution to the debate, our future will be the design of those who will not be there to see it, and will never be held to account.


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