Why Conservative students should utilise social media platforms and publications like the Mallard

How people receive information has changed vastly over the last couple of decades. With a new generation of voters increasingly reliant on social media for news, views and campaigning, conservatives need to adapt quickly to stave off a demographic problem in our voter base. Labour’s 2017 General Election campaign successfully converted young people into voters and activists with a social media-heavy strategy, both in its official party organisation and through proxy groups like Momentum, the Canary etc..

Conservative students are well placed to take the fight back to Labour on social media. Knowing the sorts of angles that other people our age consider to be convincing, we are able to tailor snappy and viral posts on social media that provide a sensible, progressive set of reasons to vote for the Conservatives. Equally, we can see the things our friends are sharing from other political perspectives and so can be on the frontline of factchecking and providing alternative narratives, so as to prevent left-wing echo chambers building up on social media and misleading points going unchallenged.

That point about breaking down echo chambers on social media is vitally important. If the majority of young people who are politically vocal on social media are anti-Conservative then there is no counter-narrative for people who are less politically active to engage with. Positing viewpoints that these people may not have considered will get them thinking and might bring them around to a Conservative position. It is worth particularly considering that most young people tend to respond best to moderate, positive arguments, so framing points in a positive way is especially helpful to counter the hopeful narrative provided by Corbyn and Labour.

In essence, we need Conservative students to utilise social media platforms to make points and arguments that can reach our colleagues in a way that other forms of campaigning cannot. In 2017, we lost control of the narrative in its entirety on social media and that cost us because we didn’t provide anything to make young people think about.

Publications like The Mallard which allow young conservatives a platform to publish their opinions and present their reasoning for their political positions are also vitally important. Providing young people with a vast range of different reasons to support Conservative policies ensures that we can successfully target people across many political positions and could help to convince wavering voters to vote Conservative. Articles are also useful tools to back up short points with – one can make a brief argument on social media and then share a link to an article with a more in-depth explanation to emphasise their point and really make people think about the issue under discussion. Furthermore, a decent range of opinion pieces gives shy conservatives evidence that they are not alone in their beliefs, and will be accepted for them, which could help to drive up the number of young Conservative activists available to the party, and increase the conservative presence on social media.

Giving exposure to the writings of young conservatives also helps us refine our ideas and gives us food for thought on how we sell the things we believe in. Debate and looking at different nuanced positions are the best ways for people to develop and strengthen their policy prescriptions and ensure that they stand up to scrutiny. Even within conservative-dominated platforms there will be nuance and disagreement, and that is a positive that can help all conservatives reach better and more unassailable points.

Ultimately, even if the Conservative Party can improve its social media presence, it needs young people to take the fight to Labour on social media if it hopes to beat the Momentum machine next time around. Social media provides both an incredible challenge and an incredible opportunity: if conservatives fail to regain some portion of the narrative online, we risk losing control of it for a generation; if we can regain it and establish publications like The Mallard to provide pro-conservative narratives, then we could end up stronger than ever.

This article can be found in print form in the new 1828 Journal from the King’s College London Conservative Association, as of Wednesday the 15th November 2017.

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If We Don’t Stand for Anything, We Might As Well Not Stand At All

After the surprise result of the 2017 General Election, a lot of Conservative activists have speculated as to how we might emulate the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s election machine, in such a way that shows that there are still lessons to be learnt from 2017. Those who have formed movements like ‘Moggmentum’ to coalesce around the traditionalist Jacob Rees-Mogg as a Tory Corbyn, or any of the ill-fated ‘Tory Momentum’ groups, which attempt to replicate the success of Momentum…somehow, have correctly identified some of the factors behind Corbyn’s rise, but have missed the most important ones.

Moggmentum, or indeed, any of the personality-driven campaigns which assert that the way to beat Corbyn is to replace Theresa May with someone more personable have successfully identified that one of Corbyn’s advantages is that people like him as a person. However, to attribute his relative success in the election solely to his being personable is to construct an imperfect picture of why people like Corbyn. People like him because he is seen as likeable, normal, in touch with the population, but even in an alternative reality where the Tories conduct the same campaign with a more Corbyn-esque leader, the result doesn’t change.

Likewise, while the ‘Tory Momentum’ groups have correctly identified that the structure of the Party and the sheer volume of Labour activists relative to our own significantly hindered our abilities in the election, the solution is not to form some Momentum replica. The arguments for structural reform of the party have been made time and again, and do not need to be covered here, and proper structural reform to maximise the incentives for people to join the party (a youth wing, better democratic structures, better campaigning etc.) will go some way towards improving our electoral performance. We both don’t need a Momentum replica – powerful autonomous allied organisations have the power to undermine the Party, as Momentum have done with things like Labour candidate selections; whereas most of the structural advantages of a Momentum style group could be gained through internal Party reforms – and wouldn’t be able to get a Tory Momentum, even if we tried to activate one.

The reason that Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum have been successful is that they stand for something. Since becoming Labour leader, Corbyn has had a very clear positive message and, like him or loathe him, people know exactly what he intends to do. Theresa May was very popular until the General Election campaign because she too had a positive message. Mayism was about improving things for the Just-About-Managing, increasing opportunity and making capitalism fairer.

Unfortunately, the election campaign brought a different message. The Conservatives emphasised that May was strong and stable without providing any sort of positive narrative as to why a Conservative government would be good for the country. Our manifesto focussed on issues of intergenerational equality and social justice, and yet we didn’t talk about that. The 2015 campaign saw similar policies backed by a positive message of socially and economically liberal governance.

By focussing alternately on how bad Corbyn would be and how strong and stable Theresa May is, we lost control of the narrative in its entirety. What we need in future is a positive narrative, emphasising our core principles. In 2017, we became so obsessed with Corbyn not winning that we made fatal electoral mistakes. Once the social care policy was in the manifesto we were always going to lose those voters who disagreed with it unless we could explain why it was necessary – if we could have tied it into a positive narrative around intergenerational equality we might have kept some of those who disagreed with the policy, and would decidedly have kept those who we lost by U-turning on it.

Mayism is inherently about intergenerational fairness and equality, and about expanding opportunity, and that should have been what the campaign focussed on. Cameronism emphasised liberal social policy and elements of intergenerational equality, and that was a far more potent campaign message that enabled us to seize control of at least our portion of the narrative. If May leads us into the next election, she will need a positive campaign message to win it. If we have to choose another leader, we should be looking for one with a positive vision for Britain that voters can get behind, not simply one who has mannerisms that are meme-able.

Corbyn did well because he stood for something, if we don’t stand for anything then we will lose the next election. Often it seems that we have become so obsessed with governing that we have forgotten to explain why it is good that we are in government. If we are to stay in government then we need a positive Conservative narrative, whatever angle it takes. Elections are more than slogans and smiles, they are about a vision for the country that the country can get behind – that is why Corbyn did well, that is why the Scottish Conservatives have done so well in recent years, it is also why populism has grown so much in the 21st Century.

We don’t need a Momentum, because without a positive narrative we won’t inspire the activists and the messages that allow Momentum to thrive. We don’t need a more personable leader, because we won’t be able to beat Corbyn without the narrative to compete with Corbynism. These things are all secondary priorities for the party: ultimately if we don’t stand for anything, we might as well not bother to stand at all.

The Answer to the Trump Right and the Corbyn Left

The Trump Right and the Corbyn Left are significantly different on paper, but both are symptoms of the same kind of political problems. Trump rails against free trade and immigration; Corbyn against big multinationals, foreign property investors, and the free movement of capital that enables tax evasion. Their target market is the kind of people that academic scholars call the ‘losers of globalisation’ – those who see the world changing around them but haven’t seen the advantages, those who have been told about the prosperity brought about by globalisation but haven’t gotten any better off, those who see an establishment talking about life getting better but feel like life has gotten worse.

The benefits of globalisation are well-documented, but too little has been done to spread the resultant prosperity. Prosperity has been centralised: the primary beneficiary in the UK has been London, with rural areas and our smaller towns and cities not feeling the benefits. The primary beneficiary of economic development in many cities has been the city centre, with those on the fringes largely ignored.

For conservatives to fight the rise of figures like Corbyn and Trump, we need to find ways to help those who have heard about the benefits of globalisation, but not seen them for themselves. Fortunately, we are best placed to provide long term, viable solutions to spread the benefits of a changing world to everyone in our society: Corbynism consists of dangerously short-termist policies – throwing unsustainable amounts of money at a broken system, at the expense of massive national debt which will force future generations to deal with worse problems with far less money to play with; Trumpism is largely empty rhetoric, designed more to win office than to solve anything; but Conservatism has the pragmatism and the ideological tools needed to help spread the benefits of globalisation – primarily through our commitment to the spread of opportunity for all.

When proposing any solution, it is important to remember our social contract with future generations not to impact their living standards at the expense of our own. While Corbynism is happy to spend tomorrow’s money today, leaving higher taxes, higher debt and increased austerity for future generations, we must ensure that we invest in sustainable, long-term projects.

A policy priority for spreading opportunity to all must be investing in our rural regions and regeneration of urban areas. Infrastructural investment in better roads, improving existing housing stock and building new houses, and investing in facilities for businesses will be an important long-term way to bring opportunity to everyone. We need to invest in job-creation by bringing businesses to areas with low levels of employment by building business parks on brownfield sites and encouraging long-term economic growth by providing long, cheap contracts for businesses to move into those areas and providing rates relief based on the number of employees a business takes on.

As well as bringing jobs to disadvantaged areas, we need to find ways to get people from those areas to jobs elsewhere. As well as investment in roads, an efficient and regular system of public transport is needed. That means regular buses in rural areas and an extension of existing bus routes in urban areas to make them accessible to everyone. Means-tested bus passes should also be considered, as a way to increase the accessibility of public transport.

To truly transform our society and bring opportunity for everyone, we also need to revolutionise our education system. The hysteresis in human capital from long term unemployment can leave people unable to find work. Implementing new free adult education programmes to enable people without work to gain new skills or trades that will make it easier for them to find work would help us to expand opportunity, and change the mindset that education is the exclusive preserve of young people. These adult education sessions should be held in areas with high unemployment, to ensure that they are accessible to those who would most benefit from them.

Reforms to other areas of education are important as well. Reducing the focus on grades and making it about learning will lessen the strains of our education system on mental health, and reducing the emphasis on exams would allow people to learn all the way through the year, rather than school being reduced to learning largely irrelevant facts for three quarters of a year and then spending a significant chunk of the year with a series of exercises that test recall ability more than actual knowledge. Children deserve choice too. An education system that allows them to choose between a focus on technical education, a focus on a more academic education, or a comprehensive focus on both is one where children can better reach their potential and will be less dissuaded from seeking knowledge. The current education system is a poor fit for many pupils, so giving them a chance to have a different style of education where they can learn about something they are interested in will enable more of our young people to fulfil their human potential.

While we’re on the subject of education, something needs to be done to continue to improve the accessibility of higher education for disadvantaged students. Maintenance grants should be reintroduced, so that the cost of higher education for these students is more in line with their counterparts, and the interest rate on our student loans should be held at inflation, to reduce the anxiety such a loan will cause. More work also needs to be done to reduce the myths that have been perpetuated around student loans. Students have become steadily more concerned about the impact that student debt will have on their lives – in part because of unhelpful scaremongering rhetoric from those who oppose tuition fees – when it is in reality no different to a means-tested tax with a 30-year period and an upper limit on how much it will cost you.

As Conservatives we are the party of home ownership, and so this is another area where we need to do more to help people. Encouraging the development of housing on brownfield sites and renovating and redeveloping run-down social housing would be an important long term investment in our country’s infrastructure. State-run housing is unfortunately incredibly inefficient and poorly maintained, and so we also need to come up with a way of balancing the need to house people with the knowledge that them owning the house will increase their standard of living and housing quality. Help to buy has already achieved a lot here, but another solution might be to simply hand over the home to its tenants (if they so desire) and then take payments towards it in the form of a means-tested tax. Those earning too little to pay the upkeep would receive housing benefit, while those who could afford it would pay towards the value of the house until they had contributed a certain amount. This would remove the up-front cost associated with getting onto the housing ladder and could be used to help both disadvantaged households and first-time buyers.

Finally, it is important that we consider how we can spread opportunity when taking advantage of Brexit. Being outside the European Union’s Customs Union means that we will have lots of opportunities to secure free trade deals and encourage foreign direct investment. This increased globalisation will benefit our country as a whole, but it is also important to ensure that it benefits rural areas and urban areas which have been left behind by globalisation thus far.

The Corbyn Left and the Trump Right are ultimately two symptoms of a wider societal problem that conservatives are well-placed to solve. In an increasingly globalised world, too many people have heard about the benefits of globalisation without feeling any of them. Populism, whether from the left or the right, has empty rhetoric and short termist solutions; conservatism has the unique combination of pragmatism and commitment to equality of opportunity that is needed to spread the benefits of globalisation to all. It is not that communities which have been left behind cannot catch up, it is simply that they haven’t been given the tools to respond to the rapid societal changes that have occurred. We need a radical commitment to expanding opportunity to improve our society.

We need a Conservative Youth Base

The 2017 General Election saw an unprecedented increase in both youth turnout and support for the Labour Party amongst the young. This was the result of more factors than simply a manifesto aimed at students, it was the result of a combination of Labour’s main strength and the Tories’ main weakness. Labour has a very good campaign machine, capable of turning out vast numbers of activists, they have exceptional social media presence and have been able to seize control of the narrative. They have also, crucially, managed not just to turnout young voters, but to turn them into active party members.

If Labour’s young supporters can be turned into activists and members at anything close to their current support rate amongst this group, then the Conservative Party will have a significant generational problem, with voters tied to the Labour Party through personal connections. We Conservatives need to urgently tackle this problem to build up our activist base and support amongst the young, or else our chances of winning majorities will continue to decline.

For starters, we need to recreate a youth wing to allow us to engage directly with young people. A youth wing, led by young people, can find ways to target young supporters and convert them into party members and activists, that a wider party organisation couldn’t. Focussed attention on young voters could spell a new generation of party activists that will enable us to take back the fight to Labour, on the ground and on the internet. A youth wing would also help to tackle the perception that young people are unanimously left wing, which would in turn reduce the effects of shy Conservatism, which acts as a form of activist suppression.

To get young people to buy into party membership, we will need to do more than just re-establishing the young wing though. Once it has been re-established, we will have to equip it with things that will enable it to turn people from conservatives to Conservatives. One of the main things young people want is a reason to join the party, and to feel like they are being listened to. A simple device to encourage young people to join the party, then, would be to create Youth Policy Forums where young people feel like they can influence party policy. We can also offer youth-specific networking events and other opportunities that will attract young people into the party, which require few resources but can build up a strong package to offer potential members.

We also need, as a party, to reclaim a social media presence. Students and young people are ideally placed to take a leading role in this, and a youth wing could have its own dedicated blog site for young Conservatives to share ideas. We’re a party of free speech, so encouraging ideological debate and discussion amongst young members will show people the diverse views held by Tories and open up a wider spectrum of conservatives to party membership. Young people having material to share in their social media spaces will also help to combat the left wing news sites which have become popular, such as The Canary, amongst this core demographic of voters.

Finally, we do need to provide more for young people in terms of policy. We need better ways of selling our existing policies, and we need to turn to low-cost yet more beneficial alternatives to Corbyn’s platform for the young. Examining ways that university and non-university education can be improved for young adults, improving opportunities for young people, encouraging house-building and supporting home ownership, and generally looking for pragmatic policy solutions to regain the support of vast swathes of young people.

If we do not act now, we risk a serious long-term problem for our party. We need some low cost, common sense approaches to improving our engagement with young voters. Most importantly, we need a youth wing again.

Now is the time for Strong and Stable Leadership

June 8th was the logical time for a General Election within the next two years. Not only was it the right time, it was the only time to secure strong and stable leadership for the Brexit negotiations.

It shouldn’t be over-stated how important a larger majority would be for the Brexit negotiations. If Labour, the Lib Dems, and the SNP had sought to prevent the final Brexit deal being passed, the fate of Brexit would have laid with rebels: if it was a softer Brexit, hard Brexit rebels might have delayed it, and vice versa. A larger majority would give the Prime Minister much needed breathing space around the kind of deal that she negotiates, meaning she is free to negotiate the best deal for Britain.

Winning a General Election would also put to bed any claims that Theresa May’s government lacked the democratic legitimacy to enact one kind of Brexit or another. It would remove the (incorrect) claim that the Prime Minister is unelected and give her the mandate to get on with the job.

An election now, before negotiations would have started, gives Theresa May the chance to get on with the job in negotiations, and deliver strong and stable leadership in the national interest.

Theresa May is Not Unelected

There are many conflicts inherent within modern politics: the fact that we bemoan the lack of young people in politics and yet berate young politicians as both inexperienced and careerist; our desire for more ‘normal’ people in politics but our aversion to paying a wage that would enable less affluent people to afford to enter politics; the list could go on and on. The biggest problem in the modern era, however, is that politics has become about the leaders rather than the policies, the parties, and the candidates.

Policies and representatives have become somewhat of an afterthought when deciding which party to vote for – instead, as the rise of the debates between party leaders during election campaigns attest to, we have descended into a situation where many voters are voting based on whom they want to be Prime Minister, as opposed to which MP they want to represent them and which party they want to be in government. This is, fundamentally, why people mistakenly refer to Theresa May as being ‘unelected’.

The truth is that no Prime Minister is actually elected by the public (or at least not by all of the public). David Cameron was not made Prime Minister by virtue of a ballot of the whole country, but more he was elected as an MP by the people of Witney and made PM by the fact that a majority of constituencies elected MPs of his party to Parliament. The principle of primus inter pares forms the basis of British politics – that is, that our leaders are elected by the representatives that we send to Westminster.

Theresa May was elected by a majority of her party colleagues and is therefore not an ‘unelected Prime Minister’. The only reason she may be considered unelected is if people voted for the person leading a party at the ballot box, rather than the person representing them – after all, only 58,482 people had David Cameron’s name on their ballot paper.

This cult of personality that has developed around our leaders raises interesting questions – after all, if we view electing our local representatives as a means of electing a national leader, won’t that mean that woeful MPs will not be held to account? If we prefer electing a PM to a local representative, should we introduce some sort of list based system of election? Or perhaps separate the executive from the legislature?

Either of those options wouldn’t seem to be a basis for ensuring efficient policy-making – in the former case, it makes it difficult to ensure that our representatives deliver on their promises; in the latter we could end up with the sort of deadlock we see in the American system.

Yet, do we have a problem? Aside from the rhetoric thrown out by opposition parties indicating that a Prime Minister who takes over without a General Election is unelected, the culture of modern politics could be beginning to move away from being leader-dominated. Labour voters may be forced to choose between their policies and local representatives, and their leader – the winner of that particular battle could shape how much the leader dominates the future of British politics.

As with the coalition, when cries of, ‘They have no mandate!’ filled the media, assertions that Theresa May has no mandate are in essence a misunderstanding of representative democracy. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, when one elects their MP, they then represent them using their industry and their judgement – thus it doesn’t matter who the leadership is, if you have an MP able to stand up for your interests.

In a representative democracy like Britain, Theresa May and the Parliament we elected in 2015 have a mandate to pass the laws and regulations they see fit, just as we have the right to lobby them to act in a certain way. Mrs May is not unelected, she is simply the new first among equals – a principle that always guides the steady hand of British democracy through restive waters.

Campus Conservatives Must be Empowered

There is a stigma attached to being a Tory, particularly as a young person, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed by the Party now more than ever. While people vote for our Party, and people agree with our policies, they are afraid to admit it. Even long-time supporters and voters find themselves hesitating before answering the question, ‘Which Party do you support?’. More must be done to combat the stigma.

Students are not as left-wing as people think, it is more that the most vocally political students tend to be the left-wing ones. This perception of students as exclusively left-wing is alarming because of the effect it has on breeding shy conservatism. The impression that all students are left-wing means that young Conservatives have a fear that speaking out and defending right-wing positions will lead to them being ostracised socially and thus get into the habit of hiding their true political beliefs – compounding the stereotype that all students are left-wing.

Staying silent and embracing shy conservatism is certainly the easiest route to take, especially where popularity is concerned, but this is, fundamentally, the problem, and it is a problem that cannot be solved by continuing the well-trodden path outlined above. Accordingly, generations of Conservatives will graduate from university – the time at which they are most able to refine their ideas – accustomed to being cautionary when discussing their politics, and unwilling and unable to defend and campaign for the Conservative Party.

This is a problem that must be addressed at universities urgently, so as to prevent more generations of shy Conservatives.

Conservative Societies (or their equivalents) at University tend to both reinforce and highlight the problem. The only members of such Societies tending to be the active campaigners, and the only activity on offer being active campaigning. This can be alienating in itself, particularly to the shy Tories. Conservative Future and its many branches and affiliates (including university societies) should be doing so much more to engage with our student members on a personal level, however the various recent scandals that led to the demise of that organisation’s national executive mean that it will have to be a grassroots effort in individual societies. Rather than just offering young people campaigning, campaigning and more campaigning, individual university societies and youth groups need to tailor an experience which leaves students with good experiences of the Party, and a route into the more active stuff.

Most students in university societies love campaigning, but then they tend to love elections, and politics. Other, shier, Conservatives are not as keen – particularly at university – and it is these Conservatives that we should be doing more to appeal to. We need more socials, more events, more opportunities for a CV. We need to show aspiring politicians that there is a route into politics. We need to show aspiring campaigners that every individual can make a difference. But most importantly, we need to show the members and supporters of the future that the Party can offer them so much.

If more people are going to stand up and support the Party, then we need to take advantage of the unique opportunity we are presented with. The main opposition parties have never been in a worse position – if we can give more people a reason to stand up and support us, and if we can show them that they are not alone in being a Conservative-backing young person, then we will be able to prevent another generation falling to predominantly shy Conservatism.

Why Grammar Schools Will Revitalise Equality of Opportunity

Theresa May and Education Secretary Justine Greening have indicated the return of Grammar Schools to the mainstream of British education. While many commentators have reacted with hostility – sometimes going so far as to argue that Grammar Schools entrench elitism – the reintroduction of such a system will both revitalise that old liberal value of equality of opportunity and continue the Cameron government’s push to expand the opportunities available to young people, with regards finding the type and style of education that best suits them.

The existing system for Grammar Schools is by no means perfect – it is true that richer parents can hire expensive tutors to help their children pass the Eleven-Plus – but that is not a reason to reject the notion of Grammar Schools. While there are elements of the current system that need reforming, the answer is to reform those faults – not reject the system as a whole. If we want to create a society where a person can achieve their maximum human potential regardless of their result in life’s first great lottery, then we need to embrace Grammar Schools.

When journalists decry Grammar Schools as a place for rich parents to send their children instead of private school, they fail to notice the converse of their argument. Grammar Schools are indeed as good as private schools, and the fact that they are free means that people who would not be able to afford to attend a private school receive the advantages of that level of education without it bankrupting them. Yes, sometimes rich students will attend Grammar Schools instead of private schools, but if even a single student gets the opportunity to enjoy a standard of education they would have been otherwise unable to receive, then that represents a victory for equality of opportunity and social mobility.

If we want to give opportunity to all, then we need to have a Grammar School system alongside our present education system – allowing students who want a more intensely academic education the chance to have such an education, and to learn alongside equally minded people who will drive them to do even better. Students who want to go to the best schools should be able to regardless of their income bracket, social class, or location – that’s why bringing Grammar Schools to more locations across the country is so important.

We need to have an education system that caters to everyone. If a student favours a vocational-specific education, they can choose to go to a college and learn a specific skill or group of skills. If a student wants to learn on the job, they can do an apprenticeship after they leave school. If a student wants a comprehensive education – combining vocational subjects and academic subjects – they can choose to go to a comprehensive school. If a student wants to specialise in a subject, they can go to university. So why should a student who wants an academically-focussed education have to pay for private school?

Reintroducing Grammar Schools into the mainstream of British education enables students to have a full range of choices about the type of education they want to have, regardless of their financial backgrounds. Students shouldn’t lose out on a high quality education because some aspects of the current system need reform – let’s reintroduce Grammar Schools and make them even more accessible to all students.

Bringing back Grammar Schools will enable us to bring opportunity to every corner of this country, and bring choice to every student.

The Legacy of David Cameron

The premiership of David Cameron has seen a lot of firsts. History will smile on Cameron as the Prime Minister who launched a series of liberal reforms to rival many of his contemporaries; history will also remember him as the safe hand on the rudder who stabilised the British economy following one of the worst recessions ever. In his six years as Prime Minister, Cameron led the first coalition in post-WWII Britain and he delivered the first Conservative majority government since 1992. While in the short term memory Mr Cameron will be remembered as the PM who lost the EU referendum, let’s have a look at his real legacy.

A major part of David Cameron’s legacy will be the stability he brought to politics during his six years at the helm. In May 2010 the country was thrust into new territory and political uncertainty – with no party remotely close to holding a majority. The fact that the Coalition Government (2010-2015) was such a remarkable success shows us acutely one of Mr Cameron’s major strengths: his ability to unify diverse political ideas into a coherent policy platform. It also showed his unique diplomacy and willingness to compromise – although credit in equal measure is owed to Nick Clegg.

As Prime Minister, Cameron put direct democracy back into the mainstream. The AV Referendum of 2011 gave the entire country the chance to choose our electoral system for the first time in our history. In 2014 he gave the Scottish people the opportunity to decide on their collective destiny in an independence referendum. The referendum of 2016 may have seen the end of his premiership, but the simple fact is that his leadership saw the British people given the chance to answer the European question for the first time since 1975, and throughout his premiership he promoted direct democracy.

Cameron’s Britain will be remembered as one which underwent massive economic recovery. The economy in 2016 does not remotely resemble the economy he inherited in 2010. Unemployment is down, the deficit is down, and there are more businesses. The economy is strong enough to commit 0.7% of National Income to foreign aid spending – enabling vital projects in other countries. Economic reforms have enabled Cameron to lift some of the poorest people in our country out of the tax bracket, and reforms to introduce a national living wage have seen the lowest paid in society receive a pay increase.

In his liberalising reforms, however, we see David Cameron’s true legacy. Every time a same-sex couple celebrates their love for one another in a marriage ceremony – that is David Cameron’s legacy. Equality before the law, regardless of your sexuality – that is David Cameron’s legacy. When a young student chooses to go into an apprenticeship rather than university – that choice and ability to pursue vocational opportunities is David Cameron’s legacy. Every school that is free to set its own curriculum and is empowered to act in the best interests of its students – that is David Cameron’s legacy. Every extra pound in the pockets of the poorest, from tax cuts, the living wage and reduced government waste – that is David Cameron’s legacy.

Under David Cameron our schools have improved, our justice system has become fairer, our economy has become stronger. During David Cameron’s premiership our universities have become more self-sufficient, our government has become less wasteful, our government deficit has halved. As Prime Minister, David Cameron oversaw reforms to make our country more secure, to give our people more of a voice, and to make our poorest richer.

David Cameron leaves office with a legacy to be proud of. History will certainly remember him with fondness. His legacy is a Britain which is richer, which is stronger, and which is fairer.