Readers of Reaction will know only too well the extent of the failure of the Tory election campaign. But that awareness has to be tempered by the fact that the Conservatives have the largest number of seats, some 56 over Labour, and obtained the largest number of votes. Even so that result was obtained against the backdrop of the worst manifesto since 1945 and with an election campaign of seven weeks. It was far too long and put the campaign at the mercy of events. The public perception was that Strong and stable soon became weak and feeble.

But the Conservative Party is the oldest and most successful political party in the world. It has a great capacity to renew itself.

I go back to the mid 1970s. Few people now remember the work done by the late Sir Keith Joseph who set up the Centre for Policy Studies. Imaginative policies were worked up and were discussed in policy groups. Sir Keith himself, a shy man, went out to argue the case for change especially to young people. He was often howled down by some who now have control of the Labour Party. The voters came to accept the case for reform with the election of Margaret Thatcher.

The 1979 election saw me and Robert Salisbury, the Marquess of Salisbury, chairman of Reaction, then Viscount Cranbourne, elected to the House of Commons. What a great reforming period that was. The right to buy, the sale of shares in British Gas and BT, all opposed by Labour, created a property owning democracy in which vast numbers had a genuine stake in the country and were part of the many and not the few.

We cannot live in the past but we can learn lessons from that period. We must live in the present and look to the future. The Conservatives have done well by the pensioners who overall have a higher standard of living than at any time in the past. That was why it was so foolish to appear to threaten their well being in the unlamented manifesto. The Tory party had also done well for the lower paid with the minimum wage and exemption from tax for those on a lower incomes.

Where the Party has failed is with so many under the age of 40. In the next election, the campaign must engage with this generation; one that does not read the print media, or much bother with the television news, but seems to believe anything on Facebook or twitter. That is where the argument about the non existent forest of money trees must be won.

Before then, it will be essential to address the widespread concerns that many have as to student debt, unaffordable housing, and a low wage economy. Lots can be done by the Treasury. Parents and grandparents with property and assets are sometimes in a position to make gifts of cash but this is limited to £3,000 a year. Why not make this £20,000?

Inheritance tax paid by families has now reached £5 billion a year. This is a tax on an assets acquired from taxed income. House prices have dramatically risen but the threshold for the tax has remained unchanged since 2010. This is a most unconservative policy which does not support the family. Surely it is time to change. The militant left who have control of the Labour Party will be outraged, but so what, they do not believe in personal ownership of property or wealth at all.

If families had more control over their wealth they would be able to give better support to younger members. This could lead to better ways of saving, in unit trusts, to roll up funds for housing or to repay higher education costs by creating housing and education ISAs for the young of up to £20,000 a year.

Many more imaginative policies for housing are needed. We need to build more buy to rent accommodation and allow conversion to right to buy. The Tories must think through new policies and road test them. Get ideas flowing. Above all be relevant to people in the age in which we live, but start by being unashamedly Conservative.

Sir John Wheeler, PC, was elected an MP in 1979 and left Parliament when his constituency was abolished by the Boundary Commission in 1997, retiring as a Minister of State.