The Tories are finally learning to stop saying Labour’s taking us back to the 1970s

Winter of Discontent references are not helping with their failure to engage young people.

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Tory MPs are warning their party to stop talking about Labour taking Britain “back to the Seventies”.

The accusation has been made by various Tories and right-wing newspapers regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto and leadership, and Ed Miliband’s energy price cap in 2013.

But following Labour’s election achievements, there is a move by some politicians to move away from that language.

At a Tory party conference fringe event on Monday, the Tory MP for East Surrey Sam Gyimah criticised making “reference” to the 1970s and the Winter of Discontent, as it doesn’t chime with younger voters. “It’s like asking you to remember the Corn Laws,” he said.

At an event this afternoon, the Treasury Select Committee chair and former cabinet member Nicky Morgan MP echoed this sentiment, urging her party to stop banging on about the 1970s “which mean absolutely nothing to people we need to win over”.

This is indirect criticism of the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s tirade against Labour in his conference speech. As my colleague George reported, he went all out against Corbyn with the (ironically) old-fashioned insults – calling him and John McDonnell “dinosaurs”, meandering into a passage about socialism in Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe, and arguing:

“I think we owe it to the next generation to show how Corbyn’s Marxist policies will inevitably lead us back to where Britain was in the late 1970s.”

Yet even Hammond himself admitted this is not a great look for the Tories, prefacing his rant with the quip: “I can almost hear the warning bells going off in Conference Control Centre: ‘Don’t talk about the Seventies!’”

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

She co-hosts the New Statesman podcast, discussing the latest in UK politics.

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