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A Generational Thing? 60% of Millennials Turn Their Backs on the Tories

millennials

Research from Onward, a centre-right think tank, reveals the Conservatives have failed to win over millennials as a new poll shows ⅔ believe the party deserves to lose in the next general election. The think tank has warned that Rishi Sunak’s Party is facing an ‘existential’ threat. 

The data

Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. This generation makes up just over ¼ of the population and is said to be the largest cohort of any generation in half of Britain’s constituencies (324 out of 650). 

Onward found that many believe the Conservatives to be “dishonest, incompetent and out-of-touch” and survey results show that only 21% would vote Conservative, meanwhile 45% would vote Labour, if an election was held tomorrow. Crucially, the lack of faith millennials hold in the Conservative Party is highlighted by the fact that 62% said they deserve to lose the next election. 

Millennials: how big of a problem for the Tories?

Onward’s report titled “Missing Millennials” cited how issues with housing, and a lack of family-friendly policies and jobs makes the Conservative Party unappealing to millennials. Moreover, it was found that Millennials have “no time for the culture war” which is often seen waged by Conservative politicians as a tactic for political support. 

As the next general election looms, the idea that people are no longer getting more right-wing with age is concerning for the Government; former Conservative vice-chair Bim Afolami asserted that “the millennial generation is not becoming more likely to vote Conservative as its members age, this situation is worsening, and we need to better understand it.” 

Afolami proclaimed that Millennials are “failing to acquire many of the attributes that have traditionally moved voters rightwards: home ownership, secure and stable employment, starting families.” 

Yet, Onward still found that among home-owning millennials, people lacked trust in the Conservatives to manage the economy. In particular, Onward regards the market shock which followed the 2022 mini budget under Liz Truss Premiership as a mechanism which undermined the “traditional strengths of the Conservative brand”. Based on this, Onward puts faith in that Millennials are not moving away from the centre-right; describing this generation as ‘shy capitalists’, the think tank argues that these voters could be attracted back to the Conservative Party as they favour lower taxes over wealth redistribution. 

Furthermore, among millennials, Rishi Sunak remains much more popular than the Party he represents – Onward estimates this to be 20 percentage points higher. These “pro-Sunak, not Tory” voters, as depicted by Onward, are  less likely to be white, probably live in urban areas, have high-level jobs and own a home. The cost of living, the NHS and the environment are top issues they share with all voters yet they place housing and taxation much higher up the list.

Final thought 

Looking at the social and economic turmoil that millennials have lived through, it is not surprising that they have become the first generation to reject the right-wing pipeline. From the 2008 financial crisis, to soaring house prices, tuition debt, the devastating impact of COVID19 on the economy and the current cost-of-living-crisis, owning a home and having a secure income which adequately covers expenses feels out of reach to many. Millennials are also more conscious about finances when it comes to having children, not to mention awareness surrounding the climate crisis which poses much more of a threat to future generations.

Moreover, it has been found that millennials and Gen-Z alike care more about equality. As well as being educated to a higher standard overall than previous generations, social media use is higher which often exposes younger generations to the prevalence of inequalities. Perhaps it makes sense that they are less drawn to a party which appears content with the status-quo, and often uses anti-immigration stances.

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