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Young, gifted and Tory

Tariq AhmedBefore David Cameron delivered his keynote speech yesterday, we caught up with Conservative Party vice-chair Tariq Ahmed

Ahmed said his party had witnessed a huge rise in interest from under 25-year-olds, who were attracted by Cameron’s brand of modern Conservatism.

Ahmed has special responsibility for cities and communities – in other words improving diversity and winning seats in traditionally Labour areas.

And, in keeping with most other delegates here in Manchester, he was upbeat about the Tories chances.

Having recently visited Southampton, he said around 80% of active campaigners were under the age of 25, and many of them were from diverse communities. ‘That is the Conservative Party of today’, he says.

Ahmed, a Muslim son of immigrant parents who settled in Glasgow, is a councillor in Wimbledon, in south-west London, and has taken over the role from Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who is now the party’s frontbench spokesperson for community cohesion.

He told OBV Blog: ‘We do feel that historically, if you look at the Conservative Party, it wasn’t recognised as a party that had strength in the cities and also people [in urban areas] understanding what the Conservative Party stood for.’

Asked whether the rank and file Tories had brought into the changes, Ahmed replied: ‘Any change is always difficult, but change also has to be relayed and communicated effectively and I think David has done that very effectively.

‘If you look at the party conference now, as opposed to say five years ago, the party in terms of its age and outlook, and ethnic balance, is a very different to what it was. This isn’t about tokenistic gestures, this is about making real change.’

By Lester Holloway

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