After reading Ruth Davidson’s opinion piece highlighting how younger generations do not trust the Tories; I was left perplexed. I agree with the Scottish Conservative leader – the younger generations don’t trust you! The negative ‘stereotypes’ that follow the Conservative Party around, which Ruth neglects to explore further in her article, exist for a reason. The Scottish Conservatives may have increased their presence in the Scottish Parliament, but the Holyrood 2016 campaign was built on a single platform ‘send Nicola Sturgeon a message, we don’t want Indyref2’. I saw no ‘writing of their own destiny’ from the Scottish Conservatives in this election campaign as they failed to differentiate themselves from a single UK Conservative Party policy; or in any General Election campaign since. They also used this Indyref rhetoric in the Local Council Election in 2017 which proved ‘successful’ but entirely opportunistic and irrelevant to the powers held by local government.
It is important to point out, to some in the wider UK who may be unaware of the Scottish Parliament’s voting system, that Scot’s cast one vote for a constituency candidate and one for a regional party. The constituency candidate system is ‘first past the post’, as it is in a UK General Election, but the regional is proportional representation with a formula used to give parties who have not won the majority of the constituency seats an advantage. The voting system would require an article of its own to explain but this link provides a detailed overview.
The ‘roaring success’ of the Scottish Conservatives is reduced to a whimper when it transpires that Scottish Labour, the third largest party in Holyrood, gained a larger percentage of the constituency vote than the Tories and nearly 20% less than the Scottish National Party in the regional vote share. As for the General Election in 2017, the Tories did secure the second biggest vote share but just 1.5% more than Labour; which could easily shift in the next General Election.
Now, since the ‘amazing’ success of Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives is put into context I will address some of the policy issues that impact on the ‘crash’ generation.
This is a very interesting label given to the younger generation, often labelled as millennials or Generation Y interchangeably, as the 2008/9 crash was caused by the liberal economic order; neo-liberalism to anyone that is not Ruth Davison. It is well known that financial deregulation and greed caused this financial crash, through financialization and inflated property value, and now the younger generation have and continue to face gross inequality, degradation of working conditions and decimation of the welfare state.
These conditions were created under Thatcherism and perpetuated by neo-liberal cheerleaders under successive New Labour and Conservative lead governments.
Under Ruth Davidson’s Party the UK have seen further squeezes on the expressions of workers, via the Trade Union 2016 Act, and the ‘talking out’ of Stewart McDonald MP’s Bill on regulating and banning unpaid work trials. This is an issue which largely affects the service sector; dominated by younger workers. The millennial generation are thought to be more tuned in to ethical behaviour of organisations and have access to a wide variety of news sources to aid forming their own opinion about political parties. This could be part of the problem for the Tories lacking credibility with younger voters.
The introduction of the two child welfare cap on tax credits, which produced the abhorrent ‘rape clause’ to which Ruth Davidson defended in Holyrood, is one of the most controversial welfare policy changes since the ‘bedroom tax’. A welfare ‘clause’ which would force a woman to openly discuss an incident of a rape to a third party in order to claim tax credits for a child she has had as a result of rape. Moreover, Esther McVey MP sat in the Scottish Parliament and boasted of potential ‘double benefits’ of the rape clause of having someone to discuss their traumatic experience of rape and receive financial support.
So Ruth Davidson, it is a little wonder the ‘crash’ generation does not trust the Tories as your party continues to become more heartless and callous as time goes by. It is not a ‘bold narrative about the benefits of our free society’ that we need it is political change – to which you and your party have no place in delivering.