Yesterday, Onward – a Conservative thinktank, published their “Generation Why?” report, the largest study of generational attitudes towards politics, since age has became the most important dividing line in our politics
About the report
The report looks at what drives younger generations away from the centre right and suggests how we should respond to this ticking time bomb. The report’s findings are based on a poll of 10,031 members of the public, and details further breakdowns by level of education, gender and ethnic origin.
When age became a dividing line in British politics
The 2017 Election saw age become a major factor in voting for the first time. Since then, the tipping point age for when a person is more likely to vote Conservative has increased from around 35 in 2015, to 47 in 2017, to 51 today. The picture is worrying and, as Penny Mordaunt put it, a “kick up the arse” for the Party.
The diamond amongst the rough
We have now reached a point where only 28 per cent of 18 – 35 year olds would even consider voting Conservative and only 17 per cent would vote Conservative. However, hidden amongst these rather sorry statistics is an opportunity. Here, we can find a potential 3 million voters under 35 – a huge untapped opportunity.
The future is not so bright for women
Our Party has a challenge in engaging women overall. However, when you begin to break down voters by age, the voting intentions of young women is of remarkable concern. In the last General Election, the Labour Party won a landslide 73 per cent of the young female vote. If an election were held tomorrow, only 8 per cent of 18 – 24 year old women would consider voting Conservative, rising only to 12% for 25 – 35 year olds – we currently have an enormous problem getting the young female vote.
Why don’t young women like us?
We often self-describe as “the party of opportunity” but young women are the most pessimistic about the future. 60 percent of women below the age of 44 think the next generation will be worse off, compared to 48 percent of women over 65. Young women have concerns about their personal finances and prosperity of the next generation. Any solution to the young woman vote must address these concerns.
The problem is our brand not our values
From the annotation delivered in the report briefing event in Parliament today, it was made clear that the crux of the problem is our brand identity – what people think and feel when they think Conservative. Many more young people have Conservative values and agree with Conservative policies than those who vote Conservative. We need to see radical change in the way the Party presents itself, if we are to reverse this worrying trend.
So, what now…?
We need to engage young women properly. The time of holding endless roundtables that come to nothing and talking about the need to do more for young women is over. We must deliver long term changes that enhance the prosperity of women, for example better maternity policy, sufficient child care and elderly care.
We need to attract more young women to join our party through creating inviting environments that appeal to young women. We then need to ensure these women are given every opportunity to make it to the top through support and encouragement. We need more young women representing our Party, in politics, in media and in policy-making. We need systemic change to create a Party that is for the masses of young women who don’t think we are for them.