Manchester: Why can’t we be more like Momentum?

GIVEN how often Momentum is wildly talked about in daily discourse like a brutal guerilla platoon that will stop at nothing until, I dunno, the railways are renationalised, it’s interesting how the left-wing group’s sworn rivals seem so keen to reproduce how it operates.

The M word popped up at least three times in a fringe meeting discussion, gamely hosted by the Daily Telegraph, on how the Conservatives can attract more younger voters.

The occasional strand was: We might not agree with Momentum but we sure wish we could organise like them. It hadn’t actually been possible to organise many young people to feed into or listen to the debate on Tuesday.

Around 20 members, mostly over the age of at least 35, had gathered in the marquee.

The familiar joke was that you couldn’t trust “young people” to get out of bed for the meeting’s 9am start; it was not discussed further as to how effective riffing about what time lazy bones young people get out of bed would be at convincing them to join up.

There was an agreement though that being a Tory wasn’t always “cool” for young people, and then a sharing of ugly stories of how student Conservatives have been physically attacked for their beliefs while at university.

But the thrust kept coming back to how young left-wing supporters loved wrapping around more exciting causes, than strong and stable, fiscal prudence.

Camden member Charlotte Kude (pictured above), who once was in the mix to stand as a Tory council candidate, spoke as chair of the International Young Democrat Union. She said young people in the UK did not see “closed” examples like Venezuela, where she said people were walking to Bolivia trying to sell worthless Venezuelan bank notes to tourists.

“Those are young people, our age, who have had their opportunities taken away by the purest, vilest form of socialism,” she said. “Young people like to rally around a cause and I think we need to make more of a conscious effort to try and talk about those situations. And what could happen here.”

It’s not just Venezuelan economics which could get the young engaged, the meeting learned.

They love climate issues – and they were animal lovers too, explained Telegraph reporter Helena Horton, areas she said where the Tories were strong but needed to get the message out to young activists.

Boris Johnson had been the first PM at the G7 to raise whaling with Japan, she said, before adding illumination to how some scoops work: “I wrote about it in the Telegraph. I was sent it before he said it, they said ‘here’s an exclusive about what I’m saying about whaling’ – and then he also went to the UN and went around speaking to everyone.”

She said the party had a radical animal rights manifesto, adding: “Even yesterday the Conservative government released a bunch of pine martens into the Forest of Dean.”

She’s right. You never hear Momentum talking about pine martens.

IT’S 10 years since the CNJ first did the story of Conservative member Jonny Bucknell sleeping in his car at conference time, to avoid the cost of hotels. Since then lots of newspapers have asked him for a picture of him kipping in the boot. This year, there was a twist: the former councillor found the charges at his favourite car park had rocketed from £2 a night to £14 a night. “And it’s £5 for a cup of tea in the conference hotel,” he sighed. 

THE main topic of gossip in the Midland bar – a sea of blue suits – is who is standing where. Will Hall, son of the BBC boss Lord Tony Hall, looks almost certain to be selected to challenge Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer in Holborn and St Pancras for the Tories. Meanwhile, former Camden Council election candidate Sanjoy Sen – perhaps better known for his semi-final appearance on Mastermind – has been selected to run in the Welsh constituency of Alyn and Deeside. Havord Hughes, a former constituency chairman in Hampstead, will also be in Wales standing in Carmarthen East & Dinefŵr and former councillor Siobhan Baillie remains in place in the see-saw territory of Stroud. Camden member Mark Logan, who you can see in the green tie at the bottom of the stairs in the main photo above, is the candidate in Bolton North. l But what about Henry Newman? The high-profile Camden councillor made no attempt to get selected in Hampstead and Kilburn last week, despite putting his name forward in 2017 and making the final shortlist. He is expected to turn up some­where, and somewhere more winnable than North Tyne­side ­– the outpost he eventu­ally found himself last time.

FORMER councillor Leila Roy, pictured with Don Williams, had a run-in with the press on Monday when Channel 4 tried a surprise vox-pop on whether she still supported Boris Johnson. “They just stuck a camera in my face and told me that I wasn’t happy with him,” she says. “If it had gone to air, I would have put in a complaint. It was so rude.”

COLUMNIST Charlotte Edwardes, who lives in Camden Town and whose partner is the ITV political editor Robert Peston, stands firm against the prime minister’s flat den­ial that he squeezed her thigh at a Spectator lunch. “If the prime minister doesn’t recollect the incident then clearly I have a better memory than he does,” she tweeted. l WILL Camden Conservatives leader Oliver Cooper enter the general election? Whispers says he may well do, with constituencies in Herts and Bucks on the radar.

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