Sunak vs Truss: This is who student Tories are voting for our next Prime Minister to be
‘The party has run out of steam’
Right at this very moment roughly 160,000 people, or 0.2 per cent of the population, are choosing our next prime minister. Conservative party members have less than three weeks to decide whether they want that to be Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss.
Polling suggests Liz Truss is holding a significant majority over Rishi Sunak and is on course to become our next PM. But what do students think of all this? We know what young Labour voters think of Keir Starmer but what do young Tories think of their two leadership candidates? The Tab spoke to six young Conservative members to understand who they are voting for and why their preferred candidate is going to help improve the lives of young people.
Nina, Bristol University – Liz Truss
“I’m supporting [Liz] Truss because I see her as a true Conservative,” Nina says. “For a long time, I have thought it was wrong that the mainstream and left always act as if Britain’s time is over and we have no place in the world. Liz Truss specifically wants to reverse this trend and shares the same sentiments.”
Nina, who is going into her final year studying politics and social policy is the Chair of the Bristol University Conservative Association. She believes that too many of her generation are “obsessed with TikTok politics”.
“The left has focused for too long on identity politics instead of the real issues facing people in this country such as poor quality education and a lack of housing. Liz will avoid the austerity we saw under Cameron.”
While she admits the chances of the Tories winning the next election are “slim” as a fifth term would be “revolutionary”, she thinks Truss is best suited to win back the trust of voters as “a woman from a humble background”.
When I asked her why students should consider supporting the Tories, she said: “If you believe in yourself, then you should believe in your country which has made you who you are, and if you believe in your country you should vote Conservative.”
Matt, Manchester University – Liz Truss
“The candidates have to show a departure from Boris Johnson and make clear and obvious efforts to be transparent”, Law student, Matt argues.
He’s supporting Liz Truss because he fears as Sunak was also fined by the police for breaching Covid regulations, opponents could level the same “attacks” at him over the “government’s integrity”.
Rishi Sunak offered an “unreserved apology” in April after being issued a fixed penalty notice for breaking lockdown rules in June 2020. He said: “I know people sacrificed a great deal during Covid and they will find this situation upsetting. I deeply regret the frustration and anger caused and I am sorry”.
Matt concedes the state of the country is “rather bleak”. He says: “We’re heading into a recession and the UK is the ‘sick man of Europe’ again. I don’t think there’s much that either of them can do to better things for young people.”
The treasurer of the Manchester Young Conservatives offers an honest assessment of the Tory’s appeal to young people. “The party has run out of steam. There’s little talent in government, no one seems to have the solutions to the problems, and the party prefers to pander to older people and their interests for electoral gain.”
“I think in order for the party to earn the support of young people, it must reimagine itself and its priorities. We will have to see if either candidate is capable of that.”
Reem, LSE – Liz Truss
Reem offers a more positive outlook on the state of the Tory party. “Liz Truss’ vision will benefit everyone, and that includes young people”, she tells me.
“We are ambitious, we want to be able to work hard without the government sticking their fingers into our money. On education, Rishi Sunak showed how out of touch he was by announcing compulsory Maths and English until the age of 18.”
Reem who is studying history and politics at LSE believes we should build on the Green Belt, a policy that restricts building on neighbouring countryside around some UK cities to limit urban growth.
“Thatcher’s vision of a home-owning democracy has largely failed, and that is due to incredibly restrictive planning laws. Being able to build on the Green Belt is paramount to alleviating the housing crisis, and Liz Truss has promised to allow this.”
Reem says you should consider voting Conservative because they have a “vision”. “We know the markets work and provide young people with a plethora of opportunities. The Conservatives are the best party to drive forward the fight for liberty.”
Anna, Manchester University – Rishi Sunak
Anna is the only young Tory we spoke to who is supporting Rishi and she believes his green credentials help him stand out over Liz Truss.
“Sunak’s approach on climate will mean that young people have a place to live. His commitments are more ambitious.”
She also takes aim at Truss’ promise to give all students who achieve three A*s an interview at Oxbridge. “Promoting multi-academy trusts will be hugely beneficial and do much more,” she says.
Anna feels Rishi Sunak is the best placed Conservative to beat Keir Starmer at the next election. However, she is not confident. She thinks bar a Labour “internal catastrophe”, they will win the next general election.
Whilst other young Tories we spoke to feel the infighting between the two candidates has been largely overhyped by the media, Anna says she is “not a fan” of what is happening to the Conservatives.
“The likes of [Nadine] Dorries are making us look like fools with her quite frankly stupid tweets and such public acknowledgements of the internal infighting.”
Joshua, Bristol University – Liz Truss
21-year-old Joshua feels Sunak’s decision as chancellor to walk back on the manifesto promise not to raise National Insurance was unforgivable.
“Liz Truss’ plans for tax cuts from day one and reversal of the National Insurance raise are not only the most effective solutions for the cost of living crisis, but also provide a base for a far more electable manifesto than Rishi.”
National Insurance increased by 1.25p in every pound in April this year. However, alongside this, the government raised the income threshold people can earn before paying NI, to help with the cost of living crisis. This meant anyone earning less than around £34,000 a year will actually be paying less than they previously did, whilst those earning more than £34k will pay more.
Joshua wants the Tories to reestablish itself as the “party of tax cuts and entrepreneurship”. Speaking about the Labour leader, Joshua says he believes: “Labour under Starmer constantly fail to take any clear stance on tax cuts, resulting in one questioning whether any sort of financial stability for the country’s economy could be provided by a Starmer-led Labour government.”
Clemmie, UCL – Liz Truss
Despite supporting Truss, Clemmie says her support for either candidate is not strong. For her it comes down to electability and she thinks Sunak has a “much larger negative image to overcome”.
“The challenges facing young people are much the same as the challenges facing the rest of the country, and so I believe Liz Truss will help young people through supporting mitigation of the cost of living crisis, and continuing strong elements of British policy such as our stance on Ukraine.”
Clemmie who is the Vice-President of UCL Conservative Society thinks the Tories should “refute opposition calls they do not have a popular mandate”. Instead, the new leader should continue the work of Boris Johnson and “the mandate he and MPs were elected on”.
She thinks that more important than voting Tory, students should be encouraged to vote. “Young people should vote for whoever they feel aligns best with their political views. I vote Conservative because I believe that minimal state involvement provides the best governance.”
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