Future launched with plans to join NUS race

October 9, 1998

Conservative undergraduates will fight National Union of Student elections for the first time in years following the launch of the party's new youth wing.

The group is a new beginning for up to 5,000 former Conservative Students, who have not participated officially in elections to the Labour Students-dominated NUS since the mid-1980s.

Conservative Future, launched on Wednesday by party leader William Hague, rolls into one body the Conservative Students, Conservative Graduates and Young Conservative groups. Mr Hague said it would abolish the "artificial distinctions" between the party's youth sections.

Undergraduates will, however, be represented by Conservative Future's campus subcommittee. Gavin Megaw, the last national chairman of Conservative Students and now campus subcommittee chairman, said it was an opportunity to abandon the insular image of Conservative undergraduates and to launch a new recruitment campaign.

"We have had to change our image on campus from being 'stuck-up Tories'," he said. "We believe in a broad church, which means we will be there to represent all students. It does not matter if they don't agree with every Conservative policy.

"I am a strong supporter of the NUS, but I feel that over the past year and a half the leadership has found it hard to make real decisions. We believe that the NUS should be holding the government accountable for the new policies affecting students."

Students who join Conservative Future become full party members and will have voting rights on policy issues.

Although campaigning will be concentrated at campus level, two national events are already in the pipeline. One is a plan to invite the editors of all student newspapers to quiz the shadow cabinet.

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