A FORMER Tory MP has hit out at the party’s ‘rubbish’ manifesto and urged for further engagement with young people following its disappointing result in the general election.
Flick Drummond, who was Portsmouth South MP for the last two years, told The News that the student vote proved to be critical in her loss to Labour candidate Stephen Morgan on Thursday.
I know that if I had the student vote, I would have won but we could not have promised to abolish tuition feesFlick Drummond, former Portsmouth South MP
She was one of the Tory MPs to lose her seat and admitted that the level of feeling among backbenchers to Theresa May was ‘very angry’ but that the party would stick with her as ‘there really is nobody else’.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘The manifesto was rubbish and a lot of people are very angry about it.
‘It was poorly communicated, too long and there was very little about how we would deal with Brexit and that was the supposed point of the election.
‘Why did we have policies like bringing back fox hunting in it?’
‘We were too negative and a lot of the things that we wanted to get into the manifesto were disregarded and now people are angry with the prime minister.’
While the Conservatives still won the election – taking 318 seats and winning 800,000 more votes than Labour – the party has come under criticism due to the message it gave to young people with Labour sweeping the youth vote.
According to a survey of 14,000 people by former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft, two-thirds of 18 to-24-year-olds cast their ballots for Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour pulled a surprise on the night taking city seats with a high student population, such as in Portsmouth and Canterbury and Mrs Drummond believes that now is the time for the Conservatives to take the youth vote more seriously.
She said: ‘We need to look more at young people and to be talking to them more.
‘There was always the danger of the student vote in Portsmouth South and when the snap election was called, I feared their vote as I know Portsmouth is such a student city.
‘I know that if I had the student vote, I would have won but we could not have promised to abolish tuition fees.
‘In 2010, the Lib Dems promised to abolish the fees and Mike Hancock won Portsmouth South by over 18,000 votes. Stephen won by nearly the same amount of votes this year on the same promise made by Labour.
‘Labour ran a very clever campaign and got a lot of celebrities and pop stars involved. They made Jeremy Corbyn look cool. Theresa May is not cool.’
Mrs Drummond said that she had taken a call from the prime minister yesterday but that while she admitted she had been ‘very angry’ with Mrs May following the snap election call, she confessed that the party needed to keep her at the helm for the foreseeable future.
As part of her campaign, the former MP also revealed that she was told to represent herself as ‘Theresa May’s candidate’ but that she did not agree with that message and instead chose to push to voters what she had accomplished in government.
She said: ‘I was very angry with her when she called the snap election but I did not want to shout at her down the phone about it.
‘However, she is very disappointed that she lost her 33 MPs and I really do like her as a person.
‘She is a good negotiator and has got some really good ideas. We will all stick with her as there really is nobody else.
‘She is the best person that we have got.’
Mrs Drummond also said she would look to run again as the Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South in any future election.
She added: ‘I loved the job and I feel that there is much more that I could have done. I was just bedding into the role and hitting my stride.’
‘This city is doing really well and it needs more drive.’