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The Conservative Party needs to win over the “shy capitalist” millennial generation, in order to secure their vote in the next general election, a report has warned.
A new study (pdf) from centre-right think tank Onward surveyed 8,000 people across the UK, identifying their voting intentions and the issues they prioritise.
Only 21 percent of millennials, identified by the study as those aged between 25 and 40, would vote Conservative in a general election tomorrow. The report said that 31 percent of millennials think the Tories are “dishonest,” and 24 percent deem the Conservatives “incompetent” and “out of touch.”
A total of 62 percent believe that the Tories “deserve to lose the next election,” compared to 45 percent who would vote for the Labour Party.
According to the study, millennials are the first generation not to become right-wing as they become older, and are the largest age cohort in 51 percent of constituencies, or 324 seats.
“If the Conservative Party is not constantly renewing its voting coalition and creating the next generation of Tory voters, it risks an electoral timebomb,” the report suggests.
There is yet hope for the Conservatives, given the popularity of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak among millennials, the study said. Voters in their 30s are more favourable towards Sunak, with 46 percent of 35–39-year-olds holding a positive view of the prime minister.
“There is a clear ‘Sunak effect’ among voters in their 30s, where the Prime Minister polls much better than the Conservative Party. This ‘Sunak effect’ notably only exists among Millennials. For older voters, the gap between their favourability of Sunak and their intention to vote Conservative is almost zero,” said Onward.
Calling them “shy capitalists,” the report said that millennials lean centre-left in their general economic values.
“They think equality should be prioritised over economic growth and that a person’s position in society is due to outside factors rather than individual effort.”
However, when asked about their policy preferences as opposed to the type of society they want to live in, millennials appear more right-wing than average and prefer keeping more of their own money over more redistribution.
Voters over 30 prioritse the cost of living and the quality of NHS services. Their top concerns are different from the generations that are older or younger. Millennials care more about housing (27 percent) and taxation (21 percent) than the rest of the general population.
“Their difficulty getting onto the housing ladder is a fundamental concern too, and the perception that we have failed to do enough on this has hurt the Conservative brand with these younger voters,” the report said.
Millennials find “the values and atmospherics of the Conservative Party—which some have described as ‘vibes’—to be anathema to them,” Onward said.
One of the study’s authors, 37-year-old Conservative MP Bim Afolami, suggested that his generation of Conservatives “can be the generation that addresses the concern of younger voters about their levels of tax, the ability to own their own home.”
Overall, millennials have a strong appetite for change, said Onward. They are the most likely generation to want changes to happen quickly but still show a clear preference for gradualism (56 percent).
Millennials are optimistic, the study also showed, with 6-in-10 saying they are satisfied that they will have “opportunities to prosper in the years ahead.”
In the 2019 general election, age remained the biggest dividing line in British politics. A YouGov poll showed that Labour still secured the votes of the majority of younger voters, while the Conservatives led among older Britons.
The next general election isn’t due until January 2025.