A trend I often see amongst those on the political right is a lack of an ideological drive, a wider goal to work towards, or a spirit to champion causes – not merely out of political posturing, but out of raw belief. The left doesn’t suffer from this shortcoming.
Outside of elections, the left seems to see the world as its battleground and – in a lot of ways – it controls the narrative. Whether it’s climate change, the supposed gender pay gap, or the demands for more spending; the left moulds the debate and gets through its agenda with drive and with success. The right needs to start doing the same, rediscovering its philosophical roots in true conservatism and offering a bold contrast to their opponents. We must do this before it’s too late.
One area where I think this fight is most vital is at the university campus. If 2019 or other electoral successes are something to go by, we have a good hold on the support of adults and the elderly, but we fail to capture the youth, and I believe that has a lot to do with our lack of vision and our tendency to stay quiet when we know the atmosphere around us is against what we stand for. It is for this reason that the university campus is the battleground where conservatism needs to start winning, to make the case for aspiration, hard work, and to a secure future – to make it clear to young people that the promises the left makes will saddle them with debt in later life.
To do this, we need to be visible, unashamed of our beliefs, and willing to debate. I would like to draw upon my own experiences so far attending university to illustrate the fight we face, and why now, of all times, we cannot give in to the mob.
I am a student at Cardiff University, which I believe is one of the most left-wing universities in the country. Motions for an official pro-choice stance on abortion, living wage and aggressive support of the UCU strike action were passed without contention. The strike action has been damaging for students up and down the country, but the fightback isn’t there and the media isn’t giving it the attention it deserves; likely because other events – like the Covid-19 outbreak – are dominating headlines.
— Michael Curzon (@MW_Curzon) March 7, 2020
But it’s more than that, the strikes go on because we, as conservatives, are not leading the fightback. Students, including the many who consider themselves to be of the left, grow weary of the strikes taking away lectures and seminars which they are paying for, without any compensation; yet, the agonising impacts on many third-year students and others continue to drag on week after week.
That is why we, as a society, decided to stand up and secure an Extraordinary Members Meeting as a chance to forward a motion that would put students first by offering compensation and pushing the UCU into a neutral stance.
The left, too, used this EMM as a way to push forward further support for the second round of strike action which hadn’t received an official mandate like the first. Yet we needed five hundred attendees for this to go ahead, and that is looking unlikely at the time of writing. What was most frustrating was the lack of advertisement behind this meeting by the Student’s Union, something I can steadfastly say seemed deliberate. They never wanted this meeting, they never wanted any scrutiny about the strikes because they wished to go on, as the left do, into more vigilante justice – consequences be damned. Something as simple as supporting students was considered a betrayal of their comrades on the picket line. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.
We all understand the legitimate reasons behind this strike: the casualisation of the academic profession with copious part-time positions being given out, the reduced pensions, the discrepancy in pay. Yet, action like a strike needs constant consideration of those it impacts, and a resolution has to be arrived at and pushed for constantly.
That aside, this is an example of where we all have to stand up as conservatives and be the voice of student frustrations on campus, to push aside the politics of ‘woke’ for the politics of common sense.
Students, without realising it, endorse many philosophically conservative ideas. But, unless we articulate them and make ourselves visible, we will never win. Young people are the future, and we have to be their voice, and it starts on campus.
Lecturers and fellow students may push back against us unjustly, but this should harden our resolve to fight on for what we believe in. Let’s not let our spirit dampen, we are steadfast in our principles so let’s not sacrifice them to appease a force that has dominated for too long. That’s my rallying call for all students, to stand up and speak up. There won’t be a second chance.
Photo by Joe Wolf on Flickr.