The Tories: How to bring back the disenfranchised

View from the floor
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The Independent Online
Yesterday's headlines filled me, and many others here, with a feeling of disbelief. Lord Tebbit simply illustrated how out of touch he was when he voiced the outdated and marginal view that the multicultural society could not work.

Surely he must realise what an important role the ethnic communities play in our party, and how central they will be to the task of rebuilding it. We need to reach out to people from all backgrounds and all cultures to make them feel an important part of our future, rather than allowing them to feel alienated through attacks like this.

The reality is that we live in a multicultural society, and as a future government we have to rise to the challenges it presents. Young people like myself have grown up in a country which embraces many cultures. We do not have the same fears, and we see today's society as one which presents more opportunities than the mythical era which Norman Tebbit seems to hark back to.

It was dinosaurs like him who contributed to our devastating defeat on 1 May. They gave the impression that we were a marginalised party, lacking compassion and only concerned with our own self-interest.

We have to bring back the people who left us at the election because they felt disenfranchised. They felt that we had lost touch with the needs and concerns of normal people in this country.

If we want to win in five years' time we have to embrace the mainstream agenda rather than the unrepresentative views of someone stuck in a bygone era. William Hague's angry reaction to Lord Tebbit's remarks shows he has recognised the need to recapture the centre ground and to appeal to the maximum number of people.

It is time now for people on the right-wing margins of the party to listen to their leader's message and realise that he is showing them the only way to win and the only way to survive.

John Major said on 2 May that when the curtain falls, it is time to get off the stage. Norman, are you listening?