Tomorrow sees the Conservative party gathering their faithful for the annual jamboree and no doubt a good deal of self congratulation (ergo, they've managed to stay in government !).
Most incumbent governments go through a less popular phase as the realities of what can be done work their way through the Westminster process. But this year we have that gargantuan situation called Brexit lurking in every corner of the debating chamber and, as recent evidence has shown, we have a government that has not shone in any direction for a long time. We might ask whether the Tories are on the ropes, lacking talent, ideas, workable strategies or even expertise as they now concede that membership of the party has fallen to an all-time low and the demographic of the remaining members is all ahoo ! In short, the talent pool is shrinking at a time when most other party's have managed to swell their ranks - not entirely with smart folk, but at least numerically. Faith in the Conservatives is under pressure you might say.
I also sense a measure of Conservative panic. As a knee-jerk gesture they've rapidly cobbled together a bit of a sweetener for university students and their loan/debt options - but this is only because other strategists from other party's have already included such policies in their own manifesto's. It's almost as if they've swiftly looked around for something topical and appealing to that all important youth generation in a frantic attempt to woo them into the Tory fold. But is that the answer, either for the students or the ailing politico's ? With some clear exceptions most youngsters in the country are now able - with a bit of effort - to get into a university stream. 'Going off to uni' is a phrase that has exploded around us this last 20 or so years as former colleges and polytechnics have rebranded themselves as 'universties'. Everyone wants a degree, everyone wants the kudos they associate with a university education and everyone wants the job and career path that the educationalists use as their key marketing strategy to tempt them. But what happens when, near as dammit, everyone ends up with a degree ? The market value goes down, the salary levels go down with that value, the jobs that actually need a degree can cherry pick the best and the rest end up working in mundane and non-progressive environments (does Ryanair come to mind with that thought ?) that frustrate them and make them feel that they've incurred huge debts for what ? Not everyone needs a degree but alongside that thought we need to value the vocational training many youngsters are better suited to (and which the old polytechnics used to provide) and ensure that the 'elitist' feelings associated with 'having a degree' are at least matched by a similar pride in 'having vocational skills and training'. We need both. Think about this, Mrs May - not everyone works in a smart London office.
As for the politico's, attempts at wooing younger people into the party smacks of desperation. It also smacks of very poor management over the last decade or so insofar as its administrators haven't seen this demographic time-bomb coming. Even the Labour Party are ahead of the game on this one.
All-in-all the Tories might hear a few home truths this coming week if it's rank and file are bold enough to get up and speak about the realities of life outside of cosy London and the south-east. I hope there at least a few who will take this stance and support Ruth Davidson's push to spread the governmental awareness around the provinces. The Conservative government have been complacent, lazy and thoroughly imbued with a sense of their own importance. This is perhaps the last chance they'll have to address the challenge and get their governance back on an equitable footing - Brexit pressures apart, there is mounting pressure for another election and one candidate in particular has his eyes on No. 10. God help us all, there.