While most people accept that data from recent general elections show young people unlikely to vote Tory.
It has also been argued that political sympathies are likely to change with age. The popular press continues to bang on about ‘generation gaps’, while pollsters have reported big shifts in allegiance amongst more elderly voters in ‘red wall’ seats, as a major reason for Labour’s 2019 defeat.
A recent Financial Times (Dec 30th) article addresses relationships between age and political orientations. Members of Britain’s “silent generation”, born between 1928 and 1945 it points out, were five percentage points less conservative than the national average at age 35, but around five points more conservative by age 70. The “baby boomer” generation traced the same path, and “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1980, are now following suit.
But according to the FT, Britain’s Millennials, born between born between 1981 and 1996 are not making this journey. “The shift has striking implications for the UK’s Conservatives and US Republicans… they can no longer simply rely on their base being replenished as the years pass ”.
While the FT mentions the decline in home ownership and housing availability in the UK, it also refers to a US study which shows that in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, millennials are “tacking much further to the left on economics”, favouring greater redistribution from rich to poor.
Other studies have linked increases in the level of education with more progressive political views – with political commentators going suggesting centre-left parties increasingly defer to a professional/managerial electorate. With a larger proportion of each generational cohort graduating and casting more votes than their predecessors, if this does not lead to the end of the Tories, then as the FT notes with concern, “without drastic changes to both policy and messaging” conservative parties could be heading to an increasingly distant second place.