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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Jessica urges Tories to woo young
Jessica Lever
Jessica Lever says the Tories have an inspiring message
The youngest woman to address a Tory party conference has urged would-be MPs to get out to schools and colleges and woo young voters.

Jessica Lever, 17, of Elstree in Hertfordshire told representatives in Bournemouth: "We want to hear the Tory message... so come and talk to us."

It was for politicians to make politics matter to young people, she said.

"Help us to help you win the next election," she said sparking memories of William Hague's 1977 address.


In that speech, he warned the Conservatives would soon die out if they did not work to attract younger voters.

To rapturous applause Miss Lever said: "Next year I will be voting for the first time and I will be voting Conservative.

But she warned: "A lot of my friends won't be voting at all because they do not connect with politicians.

"I want politics to matter to my friends but it is up to the Conservatives to make it matter."

Great uncle

She said she was tired of Labour MPs coming to talk to her and that she wanted to see prospective Tory MPs talking to young people.

Miss Lever is the great-niece of the economist Milton Friedman, who inspired Margaret Thatcher's economic reforms of the 1980s.

She has said she would like to be the first female Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Earlier this week she told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that politics was just an "interest and a passion" for her at the moment, as she was still in full-time education.

What's the point of complaining if you're not going to do something about it?
Jessica Lever

But added that she wanted to make a career in politics preferably working in the Treasury.

Miss Lever said it was reading her great uncle's book Capitalism and Freedom that prompted her to join the Tory party.

She said: "I'd always been vaguely interested in politics, and followed it in the papers, but when he sent me a copy of his book it was a real eye-opener.

"It was all about laissez-faire, freedom of choice, freedom from the nanny state, which are things I really believe in, and that is what the Conservative Party stands for, so I decided to join."

William Hague in Blackpool in 1977
William Hague in Blackpool in 1977

The Watford Grammar School for Girls pupil met Baroness Thatcher at a party function earlier this year.

She told how she passed on her great uncle's greetings and that Baroness Thatcher had told her: "'We have great expectations of you.'

"That's quite a responsibility for me because she is one of my heroines."

Miss Lever is currently studying for A-levels in politics, economics, French and religious studies.

She hopes to go to Oxford University to read politics, philosophy and economics.

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