The 2017 election showed that age has replaced class as the great electoral divide in British politics. In its wake, the question of whether and how the Conservatives can win back young voters has become a topic of intense discussion.
Now, new polling by YouGov for the Centre for Policy Studies has provided the best insight yet into how young voters actually feel about politics, and fascinating new detail on the issues they most care about.
The research was carried out for the launch of ‘New Blue: Ideas for a New Generation’, a landmark collection of essays by young Conservative MPs and other fresh voices. Published as part of the CPS’s New Generation initiative, it aims to present a range of practical ideas from across the centre-Right for improving young voters’ lives.
On the face of it, the headline findings make grim reading for the Conservatives:
- A staggering 49% of adults aged 25-39 say they can never see themselves voting Tory at the next election. Just 9% say they are certain to so.
- Just 14% of 18- to 24-year-olds believe government intervenes too much in people’s lives, vs 45% who believe it should intervene more.
- Young people are the only voters who believe government should try to help all people, whether or not they need assistance, rather than focusing on those who need help the most.
But the picture is not entirely negative. Young voters are actually:
- Are more likely than over 40s to believe that government taxes and spends too much, as opposed to too little,
- Strongly supportive – by 49% to 29% – of the view that government should focus on equality of opportunity rather than outcomes,
- In favour of university education being paid for by those who benefit from it rather than society as a whole, with 51% of 25-39-year olds favouring a graduate tax or tuition fees,
- Not overwhelmingly Corbyn supporters: just 22% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 20% of 25- to 39-year-olds will definitely vote Labour at the next general election.
Above all, however, young people are deeply pessimistic about their future; just 18% of 18-24s and 13% of 25-39s think Britain will be a better place in 20 years’ time and a staggering 52% of 25-39s don’t think they will be able to save enough money to afford a comfortable retirement.
The report also provided a fascinating insight into the issues that young voters care most about. When it came to what they thought the biggest challenges facing Government were, aside from Brexit, the runaway winner was the NHS, chosen as one of their top three issues by 67% of 18-24s.
But when it came to policies that will actually improve their own lives, their focus was very different. For those aged 25-39, their main concern is the cost of living, followed by housing (both issues the Centre for Policy Studies is addressing through a major programme of in-house research). For those aged 18-24, housing emerged as the main concern, with cost of living second. And a strong majority within both age groups said that government’s priority should be on helping people to own their own homes, rather than making renting cheaper or more secure.
Robert Colvile, Director of the CPS, said:
“The lesson of our polling is that young people aren’t an alien species. They just want what we all want: more money, better jobs, a home of their own, and public services they can rely on. Yes, their hopes have been bruised – not least by the experience of the financial crisis, and its traumatic aftermath. But they are not clamouring for a Corbyn government. They are clamouring for the prosperity, opportunity and security that they deserve.”
In his introduction to the essay collection, Ben Bradley, Conservative Party Vice-Chair for Youth, said:
“The 2017 election highlighted that clearly more needs to be done to engage with younger people. It’s particularly important that a generation of young workers, families and students hear the arguments in an engaging way, about the Conservative vision of supporting freedom of choice, aspiration and opportunity.
“New Blue is a collection of ideas from Conservative colleagues across Parliament and the country, offering practical suggestions to deal with our future challenges and addressing the problems faced by voters in their everyday lives.”
Robert Colvile and others from the Centre for Policy studies are available for comment, live- and pre-recorded interview via 07876 161196.
Emma Barr – Head of Communications, Centre for Policy Studies, [email protected].
NOTES TO EDITORS
- ‘New Blue: Ideas for a New Generation’ will be launched on Tuesday May 15 at a reception with the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP and will feature essays from young MPs and conservative thinkers.
- The full book will be available on the CPS website from 9am on Tuesday.
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3360 GB adults, including 1064 GB adults aged under 40. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 23rd April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB adults. YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by their rules.
- The full YouGov polling for the CPS is available here and here.
- The Centre for Policy Studies is one of Britain’s leading think tanks, and the home of a new generation of conservative thinking. Our mission is to widen enterprise, ownership and prosperity.
- ‘New Generation’ is the Centre for Policy Studies’ flagship programme, promoting fresh policy ideas from MPs from the 2015 and 2017 parliamentary intakes, among other new voices. Full details are available on the CPS website.
Date Added: Friday 11th May 2018