Phew. That was close. During the campaign the Tories warned against the risk of Britain being run by an anti-British Government – a “Coalition of Chaos” of the Scottish Nationalists, Lib Dems wishing to undermine Brexit, and the Marxist leadership of the Corbynistas.
It didn’t happen. But it came alarmingly near. The single biggest reason appears to be the big turnout of young voters – who overwhelmingly backed Labour.
There are certainly some organisational and policy issues for the Conservatives to sort out. Conservative Future, the Party’s wing for students and young people, was closed down after a bullying scandal that led to a suicide.
It should have been reformed or replaced. Certainly the problems had to be dealt with, but simply leaving the Left unchallenged on campus was lazy and complacent.
The Conservative policies were also uninspiring from the perspective of young voters. A strong emphasis on housing would have helped. There need to be radical measures to allow a proper market to function – with a big increase in the supply of new homes.
Yet there is something more fundamental at play. The Conservatives have been losing the battle of ideas.
A survey for the Times Higher Education Supplement found that Labour had the backing of 54 per cent of academics, the Liberal Democrats were on 24 per cent, with the Conservatives on seven per cent – only just ahead of the Green Party (an outfit to the left of Labour and who were on five per cent.)
Its sister publication – The Times Educational Supplement – found an even bigger lead for Labour among teachers. Labour had the backing of 68 per cent – with ten per cent for the Lib Dems and the Conservatives on eight per cent.
In itself, this wouldn’t matter if professional standards are maintained in the education system – with the best effort made at impartiality, a full and accurate account and a range of views given a fair hearing.
Yet for Marxists, the education system is a mission to indoctrinate – the choice of reading lists, the content of lectures, the marks for essays. All will be increasingly skewed.
History will be taught in a highly partial manner – with inconvenient episodes not mentioned. For instance, rather than a balanced account of the British Empire, it is portrayed in an entirely negative light.
English Literature is increasingly politicized, with Shakespeare’s plays studied in the context of the subjugation of women.
This bias even happens in independent schools. I am told of an economics tutor at Eton who was emphatic in persuading the boys of the merits of collectivism.
For many ambitious young people, career progression requires signing up to an array of socialist nostrums. To qualify as a social worker it is necessary to have a social work degree – for which it is required to meet the ideological prescriptions of the Social Work Professor (who are often openly Marxist.)
Or what if your calling is to be a vicar in the Church of England? Those attending theological college find it advantageous to declare themselves socialist – those who are conservatives keep it secret.
Then there is the lynch mob of social media. Conservative students might find it easier to remain discreet than to cope with the abuse from their intolerant contemporaries.
Actors, authors and singers are rewarded for expressing fashionable “progressive” platitudes – but vilified should they express conservative views.
No wonder young people are indulgent of Jeremy Corbyn if they have been taught that, for instance, the IRA are the goodies and the Israelis the baddies.
Tackling all this will be a challenge, but is not impossible. It has been done before. In the 1970s the Conservative politician Sir Keith Joseph toured universities giving speeches making the case for free enterprise – braving all the angry demos to persist until his message was heard.
There are some policy changes that would help, such as abolition of the BBC licence fee, scrapping arts subsidies, ending the taxpayer funding for student unions and instead introducing voluntary membership with individual subscriptions.
But ultimately it is about those who believe in the free society finding the courage to speak out.
The Left can be defeated in the war for the hearts of minds of the next generation. But only if Conservatives enter the field of battle.