The young Tory determined to defy the stereotype

Jamie Roberton

Former Health and Science Producer

Tom Hulme, a 17-year-old, cross-dressing, Margaret Thatcher-loving Conservative from Oldham, is almost incandescent when asked if the stereotypical view of a Tory supporter aggravates him.

"There's nothing that annoys me more," he says.

"And it annoys me even more when it's me and they assume I'm a stuck-up little rich kid who's had mummy and daddy pay for everything all my life; when they assume I'm some home counties, hunting, boarding school boy -ah there's nothing that gets on my unmentionables more.

"Above anything it's patronising and condescending."

Mr Hulme, however, admits that his party has a problem.

Ed Miliband would have led Labour to a landslide victory at the 2015 general election if only the votes of 18 to 24 year olds were counted.

"It's a great problem," he says of the Tories' struggle to appeal to young people.

"It does get me a bit angry when I turn up to campaign days and I'm the youngest one there by sometimes 30, 40 years."

But he rejects the accusation - from what he calls the "sneering, sniping left" - that seven years of Tory austerity has amounted to the worst assault on young people in generations.

He is equally dismissive of the claim that the party does not regard young people as important because they are less likely to vote,insisting it was starting to make "great strides" in engaging young people with Conservatism.

"But it's a two-way street. Young people actually need to take the time to engage - the political class can't be expected to sit there and teach them. They need to do their research and make a concrete decision based on their predicament."

His peers, he argues, are too easily swept along by a tide of anti-Tory sentiment on social media, without taking the time to properly consider their own views.

"Just talking to my friends at college and asking how they are going to vote: 'I'm going to vote Labour. Why? Because we just do' - it doesn't really go much further than that.

"One of the problems young people have is that they class putting a status on Facebook to their 30 left-wing friends as activism - that's not the real world.

"They are also too fixated on immediate gratification; they want things now; they want the NHS fixed now; they want schools fixed now; And it can't just happen by throwing money at it - it takes time and a lot of work."

His activism and unwillingness to shy away from criticising his own generation have exposed him to vicious abuse on social media.

He has been forced to block more than 4,000 people on Twitter over the past few years, in an attempt to stem the "endless flow" of" really horrific" messages.

"It gets especially bad around times like the anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's death, her birthday, election time especially - I'm seeing it quite bad at the moment,” the student says, as he reaches for his phone to read the most recent insult.

"I hope your family have abandoned you, you cross-dresser. I hope one day you're in need and the government fails you - you Tory piece of filth."

Spreading the world in Oldham Credit: ITV News

The student brushes off the latest example with a grin and shrug of the shoulders, adamant that 140 characters will not curtail his passion for his party and country.

He will turn 18 just in time to cast his first ever vote on June 8 and is spending every available moment until then - in between A-Level revision- leafleting and knocking on doors.

The mood he has gauged on the doorstep is only pointing to one result, he says: a huge majority for Theresa May.

He claims Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, is toxic and the prospect of him becoming prime minister has convinced many of the residents in Oldham to vote Conservative for the first time.

"The Labour Party doesn't have anything to offer me. All it offers me is the politics of envy; it makes me jealous of people doing better than me rather than aspiring to people that are better than me.

"Anyone with aspiration, anyone with ambition; anyone who doesn't want to stay in the same town all their life, the same job all their life - it's got to be the Conservatives."

Mr Hulme has ambitions of his own to one day represent his hometown as an MP but until then, he believes he has an absolutely fundamental role to play for his party and safeguarding its future.

"People are very, very surprised when they find out I'm a Conservative - I don't fit into the stereotype whatsoever.

"They hear I'm involved in politics and you can see in their eyes they are making the assumption, ‘He's a bit of a lefty'. And I say: 'Actually, I'm Margaret Thatcher's biggest fan, oh and they are like,'What?!'"

"I see my role as challenging the stereotype; it's up to people like to me to go out and say: actually, this image of a Conservative that you've been spoon-fed is wrong.”