TORIES should seek to emulate the Labour left, Michael Gove said this weekend.
The controversial Environment Secretary told the Kings Place Politics Festival that pro-Corbyn group Momentum had “brought lots of enthusiastic young people into politics” and “helped change the culture of the Labour Party.”
He said he did not “endorse all the principles” of the group, but believed Conservatives could “learn something” from their success in getting thousands of people newly involved in politics.
Mr Gove added: “The attitude … of many Conservative associations to a young person saying: ‘I want to get involved’ is to say: ‘Here are some leaflets to deliver’.
“You think: ‘I joined the Conservatives for political ideas, if I wanted to be a postman, I’d have … gone down that route.’
“And so we have to think hard about how we provide a space and opportunity for people who are interested in political ideas.”
Momentum founder Jon Lansman welcomed Mr Gove’s admission that the grassroots campaign has been a positive development for politics in Britain as a whole.
But Mr Lansman warned Labour had only been able to harness this enthusiasm because it had offered “bold policies” of the left, which he suggested the Conservatives could not do.
Momentum was founded by Mr Lansman and others as a new force to bring together various currents of the Labour left. It has faced vitriol from some Labour MPs concerned that new pro-Corbyn members will seek to de-select them as parliamentary candidates.
Mr Gove noted the rise of left populism across the world.
He said: “I expect if Bernie Sanders had been the Democrat nominee [for US president] he’d probably have beaten Donald Trump.”