Conservative Future (the youth movement of the UK Conservative Party) is presently the largest political organisation on British campuses.
Ben Howlett, as a candidate for the post of the organisation’s chairmanship, last year created a major political kerfuffle (OK, make that a kerfuffle within right-of-centre student political circles!) by answering the question posed during the campaign:
“Which politician do you most relate to and respect in Northern Ireland?” with a crisp “Gerry Adams”.
Surprisingly enough, considering the raw hurt still felt in the party with regards to the IRA’s attempted massacre in Brighton 1984, he still won proving… the independence of thought of the junior Tories or an outbreak of collective amnesia, you take your pick.
Anyway… Howlett today heads an organisation which is now present in England, Wales and N.Ireland (the Scottish Conservatives, as appears to be their wont nowadays, have their own autonomous organisation) and next Thursday (29th September) the Northern Ireland branch will be hosting an event to discuss the social and political future of Northern Ireland and the place of Conservative and centre-right politics in that future. It’s open to anyone 30 or under, whether they’re a Conservative member, or just interested in the party and centre-right politics and will take place at the office of the Northern Ireland Conservatives,84 High Street Bangor, starting at 7:30pm.
Whilst I would describe the junior wings of the DUP, UUP, TUV, Sinn Fein and (to a lesser extent) the SDLP as “right-wing” in terms of “identity” politics; on economic issues they are all singing basically from the same marxist/socialist/social democrat “we are N.Ireland, we are entitled” hymn-book. Conservative Future may not push the same right-wing button too heavily on the old Orange/Green debate but they are least offering an alternative to the stale economic mantras offered up by the other youth politicos- for that fact alone, their increasing presence on the local scene has to be welcomed