Bolder policies, and a defense of liberal values, must be accompanied by serious thought on how to handle Brexit if the Tory party want to convince young peopleby Nicholas Earl / June 26, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Under 30s love Corbyn, but they don’t care enough to get off their lazy arses to vote for him.”
Those were the words of a long-serving Tory MP two days before the 2017 UK General Election.
Perhaps, after the election result, he is glad to have been quoted anonymously. In vivid contrast to the sluggish showing of previous general elections in 2010 (43%) and 2015 (44%), turnout from the 18-24 demographic surged to fifty nine per cent, only eight points below the national average. Meanwhile, the Conservatives not only failed to achieve a majority, but nearly lost the election. The result showed that the Labour-Conservative voter transition age—the age at which the average voter is more likely to vote Tory, rather than Labour—had increased to 47.
The reasons why this young demographic did not turn out for May are key to understanding what the party must do to recapture their votes. Angus Hatton, co-founder of the Intergenerational Fund said: “For too long younger generations have borne the burden of austerity and politicians have learnt the hard way that they will have to improve their policy offers to younger generations. Cheaper housing, better pay, fairer student finance terms, and a fairer pension settlement between the generations should all be on the agenda.”
The strength of this narrative was compounded by the fact the Conservative arguments on these issues weren’t defended in a campaign light on policy detail. Corbyn, meanwhile, was granted open season in painting the Conservative Party as heartless and cruel.
To win back young voters, it is clear the Tories will need to go further in promoting their liberal values and in recognizing the economic impact of austerity, associated with a lack of job opportunities and cuts to needed financial benefits that young people rely on in between education and employment—such as the EMA and housing benefit.