The Tories will struggle to get the votes of younger people

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

In what may be a belated bid to wrest Britain’s young voters away from the embrace of Jeremy Corbyn, the Tories are working on a plan to slash student loan rates.

But is it all too late, even though the next election seems unlikely before 2022, if the Tories can hold out that long? For years, the major parties have done little to exploit the youth vote, regarding it as a waste of time, effort and money since young people have a history of using their votes exceedingly sparsely.

Better, both parties said, to concentrate their campaigning on elderly voters who regularly traipse along to the polling stations in great numbers.

However, Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated, during his impressive election campaign last spring, that the young voters can be persuaded to vote in large numbers. It was that factor which gave Labour a much better outcome than most expected.

The Tories’ student loan plan may help them, but their problem is young voters probably regard it as a mere cynical ploy to get them to change their minds.

And in any event, most young voters are far more likely to support Labour than the Tories, even if they change their minds as they grow older.

So Theresa May and her colleagues have an enormous struggle on their hands if they are to succeed in getting the support of young people who, even at this early stage, are already seen as a crucial factor in the result of the next election.

In addition, it is astonishing that David Davis is still in charge of the increasingly sour Brexit negotiations if it is true he “bullied” the Prime Minister to hold last June’s disastrous election.

But she could scarcely sack him when he is being insulted by that unelected political minnow, Jean-Claude Juncker.

• Help is at hand for the insomniacs of the political world. It comes in the form of Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary.

His speech on the second reading debate of the Brexit Withdrawal Bill last week was a masterpiece of incompehensible legalistic jargon and claptrap.

Coming from a barrister, I suppose this is not suprising, but Starmer, who is emerging as one of the greatest parliamentatry bores for many years, seems to have failed to take on board that addressing the House of Commons is a very different thing from addressing a jury in a court of law.

Even Starmer’s boss, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, seemed to have some difficulty keeping his eyes open as he pursued his tortuous course. His speech was a master-class on how not to do it, and the only people he swayed were those who had difficulty remaining upright in their seats.

The House of Commons has had its fair quota of bores, but this fellow outdid the lot of them.

• A new play has been written about Enoch Powell, possibly the most demonised politician of his generation. The actor, Ian McDiarmid, who plays Powell, claims he was not a racist, but that whenever he spoke about immigration, his principal concern was about numbers of those coming into the UK.

I got to know Powell quite well, particularly during his heyday. I remember once sneaking into an ‘MPs only’ lift in the House of Commons. It stopped at the next storey and, to my dismay, in stepped Enoch Powell

He took a long, hard look at the ‘This lift is for the use of MPs only’ sign and then took an equally long, hard look at me, and commented: “I must have missed the by-election”.

• “Geoffrey Boycott has still got my Tupperware” - This claim by the Prime Minister must rank as the Quotation of the Year so far. It refers to the occasion when she gave the former England batsman some home-made brownies.

May, an avowed cricket fan is a particular admirer of Boycott, even though he seemed to stir up a lot of dissent in the Yorkshire dressing room when he was captain of the county.

Ironically, however, the Prime Minister is experiencing the same kind of problem over Brexit among some of her own Tory colleagues in the Commons, including some quite senior figures.

Perhaps Boycott, when he returns the Tupperware, can advise her on how to sort it all out.