Chloe Smith

We can win Generation Y over to politics – and the Conservatives

There are more people who have not yet voted for the Conservative Party than could ever leave it for Ukip. My party needs to remember: all voters matter, not just those Tories being wooed by Nigel Farage. The real prize is not stopping voters defecting to Ukip – it is making the Conservative Party the natural home for the next generation.

In Britain today we have a dwindling generation of older people who use their vote, and a growing camp of younger people who don’t. Does that mean we shouldn’t bother with the young? Absolutely not. It would be wrong to ignore this phenomenon. Politicians need to meet it head on, and quickly.

Most of today’s 18-24 year olds are not voting. Only 44 per cent turned out in 2010 and, since then, at worst, double that percentage said that they don’t plan to vote. And Britain’s problem is worse than elsewhere in Europe and the US.

Could the problem solve itself? Today’s young people could naturally bounce into voting when they’re a bit older, but I don’t believe that they will. Three things have changed: This generation reports less interest in traditional politics, they feel less affiliation with parties, and they don’t feel that voting is a civic duty.

Today’s 18-24 year olds won’t ‘settle down’ to voting or party membership once they get married and get a mortgage. Indeed, if you were banking on that happening you’d be waiting a long time.

The Baby Boomers form today’s largest cohort, but by General Election 2025 Generation Y (and younger) will form a sizeable proportion of those eligible to vote – and they may simply not bother. Who’ll vote then? As a young William Hague once said: ‘It’s alright for some of you, you won’t be here in thirty or forty years’ time!’

2015’s first time voters have an aversion to formal politics – but they are interested in political affairs, in new techniques and in community projects.

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