‘The unexpected appeal of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto has thrown the Tories into panic’, says the Sun. With Damian Green suggesting a ‘debate’ may be needed over tuition fees and other ministers ‘piling in every day with demands for more spending’, the Conservative party seems to be making the assumption that the best way to tackle the threat of Corbyn is to copy him. This is ‘suicidal’, says the Sun, which argues that not only would it be wrong to try and take on the ‘hard left’ on their own terms, it would also be dangerous for the economy. ‘Labour’s manifesto was built around bribing people’ with cash Britain does not have, the paper argues, and it’s time for the government to ‘treat the electorate as grown-ups and point out reality.’ ‘The Conservatives need to keep their nerve’, concludes the Sun.
The Daily Telegraph agrees, saying that now is not the time to ‘ape’ Corbyn’s ‘fantasy land economics’. It’s true that the election result was a ‘serious set back’ for the Conservatives, but they still upped their percentage of the vote compared to 2015. Despite this, ‘the party hierarchy’ seems to have concluded that Labour ‘won the political argument’ and that the ‘best way to spike Labour’s guns’ is to copy their manifesto. Damian Green’s comments about tuition fees - and the suggestion that Labour are right with their approach to bin fees - is ‘dangerous’, argues the Telegraph, which points out that borrowing money to pay the £8bn bill for scrapping fees would only help better off students and also ‘impose greater debt burdens on future generations’. You can’t blame students who would like to go to university for free. ‘But it is the Government’s job to explain why this is not possible’, says the Telegraph - and caving ‘into Labour’s fantasy-land economic approach’ is a mistake.
Labour is clearly winning the battle among young voters, points out the Times, which says that a new survey shows Labour has ’a 30-point lead among 18 to 30-year-olds’ over the Tories. If we had an election tomorrow, the youth vote would sweep Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street, so it’s ‘no wonder’ the Tories are now trying hard to reach out to younger voters, who have been ‘neglected by the Tories for too long’. But if this involves a conversation about tuition fees, the Government must ‘use it to make the case for access and excellence’, rather than try and copy Labour and scrap fees in a policy which would only help middle class kids. After all, tuition fees have ‘helped disadvantaged students more than any other group’, the Times points out - saying that between 2006 and 2015, ‘the number of school-leavers going to university from the poorest parts of the country rose by nearly three quarters’.