LONDON – A right-wing think tank has suggested that the Conservative Party should legalise recreational drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy, in order to win more votes from millennials.
“A Millenial Manifesto” has been published by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) and lists 12 policy suggestions that could appeal to young people and make more of them more likely vote Conservative at general elections.
Legalising recreational drugs would “benefit society as a whole as well as making the lives of the young people who wanted to use them both easier and safer,” the report, published today, argues.
“The policy of prohibition, penalties and punishment has clearly not succeeded in eradicating their use,” it claims, adding their legalisation would mean young people being “brought back into the framework of society.”
The other policy proposals include cutting air passenger duty for under-30s, a 50% council tax discount for young people and a graduate tax to replace student loans.
Sam Bowman, the executive director of the ASI said the Tories have “ignored the concerns of young voters, both neglecting their well-being directly and taking positions that are badly out of touch in areas like animal welfare and openness to immigration.”
Young people overwhelmingly voted for Labour at the general election, with 60% of those 18-24 voting for Jeremy Corbyn, a pattern that some Conservatives feel is only going to get worse unless the root causes are addressed. Former Chancellor Lord Heseltine warned Tory party colleagues in June that 2% of the party’s core electorate, the British elderly, dies each year.
“One thing which is just worth having in mind, and you can’t do anything about it, 2 per cent of the older part of the electorate die every year – they are 70 per cent Conservative,” Lord Heseltine told Sky News.
“Another 2 per cent come in at the young end of the electorate – they are about 70 per cent Labour. That’s about 2 per cent change each year. There isn’t that much time.”
The proposal to cut air passenger duty is because “foreign travel is an important part of the lives of many young people.”
The ASI suggest the current levy should be labelled the “Ibiza tax” and the government should not tax under-30s by the measure in order to “enhance their lives and make a significant difference to their opportunities.”
Labour MP Cat Smith told HuffPost UK that the plan was a “laughable failure to understand what young people actually care about.”
Smith said: “Having spoken to hundreds of young people over this summer I can say that of all their demands from government, from the crisis in mental services to huge personal debts from study, no one has raised Air Passenger Duty with me.”
The paper argues that fundamental reform to the housing market is needed in order to improve the lives of young people, suggesting that the liberalisation of planning regulation and a council tax discount of 50% for those under 25.
The report also suggests that graduates should pay a graduate tax rather than paying off a student loan and feel “the burden of debt upon students.”
Madsen Pirie, the president of the ASI and the author of the report, said: “The Conservatives should look at innovative policies, like reducing the cost of travelling and making it easier to work abroad, to win over young voters.”
Bowman said: “Today’s paper should start a conversation in the government and the Conservative Party at large about how to win back some of the younger voters lost to Corbyn.”