Did Euan plump for the Tories?

Observations - First-time voters

London was the one city where the Tories had a real surge in this month's local government elections. And London was where 18-year-old Euan Blair, frogmarched to the polling station by his mother, entered a polling booth for the first time.

Young Blair will have felt the glow of all ballot debutants. How exciting. And how satisfying, as far as many teenage electors are concerned, to exercise one's democratic right in total privacy - and defy Mum and Dad by voting for the "wrong" party.

Might he have done? This Blair's politics are his own business. The Press Complaints Commission and Alastair Campbell will machine-gun anyone who demonstrates otherwise. But let us examine what evidence we may.

Iain Duncan Smith is so fantastically unfashionable that he is close to doing one of those postmodern flips and becoming "cool" among ironic, young metropolitans such as Euan. This never happened with William Hague because he tried to groove himself up with a number one haircut and a baseball cap. His successor, Duncan Smith, has remained heroically untrendy. Streetwise young dudes kinda admire that.

Teenagers like to rebel against the establishment, and after five years Labour is now undeniably the party of the status quo. To many 18-year-olds, the days of John Major's government must seem remote and implausible.

They will read reports about the Margaret Thatcher years and regard them as ancient history.

The government's record on student fees may matter a great deal more than chewy (albeit worthy) policies such as the working families tax credit and the New Deal to a young man of Euan's age and ability. He will have friends who, in order to finance their forthcoming college expenses, could face years of debt and a pimply existence of own-brand baked beans and tinned sardines. They will be aware that the rise in employers' national insurance rates has done nothing for the holiday jobs market.

There was once a time when student activists angrily chanted the names of Tory education ministers - from Keith Joseph to Kenneth Clarke. The insults these days are aimed at the likes of "Estelle Morris, silly old Doris" and the eminently custard pie-able Margaret Hodge.

Euan will have his views on corruption in government. This, remember, is a young man who has come in from a hard day at school to find the likes of Bernie Ecclestone and Keith Vaz hanging around his front hall. He may also have had the benefit of hearing what his father truly thinks about, say, Stephen Byers and John Prescott. It may not always have inspired great faith.

For the past five years, his next-door neighbour has been Gordon Brown. This brings us to the awkward matter of Uncle Gordon's latest Budget. As the son of upper-level earners - who are likely to become multimillionaires when they leave Downing Street - Euan qualifies as one of the elite rich whom Brown seeks discreetly to exterminate. He would only be human if he had pondered the long-term implications for his own pocket of Brown's return to aggressive tax-and-spend policies.

When you have holidayed at the best villas in Tuscany and been reared to expect the very best of Egyptian hospitality, it is not easy to lose the taste for such pleasures.

Chancellor Brown's Budget stunt, giving a tax break to real ale breweries, will not have fooled Euan. Mexican beer by the bottleneck is more his style than a foaming pint of Old Pig Snout. As for the concession to bingo players - please!

Nor would the "zero tolerance" noises that emanate from the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, seem to suit our young hero. Euan has had some experience of the bobby on the beat and it has not been entirely positive. The Home Office's stern views on teenage drinking and general merry-making may also strike him as a touch Talibanesque. On these matters the libertarian strands of Conservatism may have more appeal. The Tories, after all, are the party of the convivial Sir Denis Thatcher, Bt, and the late Alan Clark, who could have told Euan that those big-boned Central Office girls are much more, ahem, sporty than the sleek, serious sisters of Millbank Tower.

It can be noted that when he was hauled off to that West End film premiere to meet Kate Winslett, Euan chose to wear a clean-cut suit and tie. A moderniser would have opted for open-necked shirt and chinos. Not Euan. He looked like one of those ambitious young men you still encounter at Tory party conferences.

It might be impertinent to suggest that, instead of voting Labour last Thursday, he sucked hard on that stubby pencil and placed his cross against the name of the Conservative candidate.

But would it be wrong?

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