The words “strong and stable” were conspicuous by their absence in Theresa May’s speech ahead of the Conservative Party Conference, which gets under way in Manchester tomorrow.
The robotic narrative that failed to strike a chord with voters has been jettisoned in favour of a more conciliatory tone. The Prime Minister also makes a point of saying she understands the concerns raised by young people.
The student vote wasn’t taken seriously by the Tories at the last election. It was a costly mistake and one they will be keen to avoid repeating. Mrs May will probably never win a popularity contest with Jeremy Corbyn, who was feted like a rock star at Labour’s party conference this week, but if she wants to win over younger voters then she will need to address thorny issues like student debt, tuition fees and fears about Brexit.
The Prime Minister was rattled by an election defeat that not only seriously weakened her own position but also that of her party. During the election she attempted to woo traditional
Labour supporters in the northern heartlands but her message failed to resonate.
This week Mrs May came out in defence of free markets in the wake of Labour’s tub-thumping calls for renationalisation, and if she is to regain the political initiative then she must spell out a clear vision for Britain that ordinary people can relate to.
Party conferences might not win or lose elections, but this is an opportunity for the Tories to show a united front after a summer of petty squabbles and for Mrs May to recalibrate her message to the country, and in particular to the young.