The Conservative Party must win over voters in their thirties if it is to win the next election according to a report published by Demos, the think-tank for everyday democracy. True Blue: How Fair Conservatism can win the next election argues that people born between the mid 1960s and mid 1970s do not - and will not - vote Conservative. The report finds that voters now in their thirties are less likely to vote Conservative than any other age group.
“I call them ‘Generation Gap’ – they dress conservatively but they do not vote Conservative,” says the report’s author, Nicholas Boys Smith. “Yet perversely, given how they vote, ‘Generation Gap’ are more entrepreneurial, richer, better travelled than their parents and are the generation that has gained the most out of the Thatcher economic transformation.”
Generation Gap has been conditioned not to vote Conservative. Only 31% of those aged 25-34 think the Conservative party shares their values - 5% less than those aged under 25 and 10% less than those aged over 55. In the 2005 general election, only 25% of Generation Gap voted Conservative - 8% less than the national average. Voters aged 18-24 were more likely to vote Conservative than those in their late thirties or early forties.
Drawing on a wide range of data on social and political attitudes, the report argues that the Conservative Party will only become electable if it appeals to the centre ground of British politics.
“The key reason that ‘Generation Gap’ don’t vote Conservative is that they don’t think Tories care, and they don’t like Tory values,” says the report’s author. “But as the Blair era comes to an end, the party that can capture ‘Generation Gap’ will win.”
The report argues that the Conservative Party can define the post-Blair era by promoting ‘Fair Conservatism’.
“The new Conservatism has to be fair”, says Nicholas Boys Smith. “Fair because Britain is not. Fair because it is a value the British appreciate. Fair because it is a value that is true to the Conservative traditions.”
“The Conservative Party must broaden out the case for change that has been made during the leadership campaign. Only be re-engaging with all parts of British society, and proposing reforms to the public sector which do not leave the poorest behind can the Conservatives mould the political landscape after Blair.”
The report proposes a range of Fair Conservative measures including:
- Fair Tax: Radically reducing tax for the poor by raising the income tax threshold to £7,500 and reducing the starting rate of tax to 0p.
- A Fair Chance: Ensuring that more money is spent on educating the least fortunate as choice is re-intruded into British education.
- A Fair Deal on Crime: Giving communities greater control over policing and criminal justice.
- A Fair Britain: Encouraging enterprise by introducing tax breaks for economically deprived parts of the United Kingdom.
True Blue is being published by Demos on Monday 28th November as part of its ongoing commitment to understanding the long-term future of political parties. It follows the publication earlier this year of Everyday Democracy: Why we get the politicians we deserve.
Notes to editors
- True Blue will be launched on Monday 28th November, 6-8 pm. The launch event will take place at Demos, Third Floor, Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU. Please register for the event by contacting Demos at firstname.lastname@example.org
- True Blue: How Fair Conservatism can win the next election by Nicholas Boys Smith is published by Demos on Monday 28th November March 2005. Copies can be downloaded from www.demos.co.uk/publications/trueblue or ordered from Central Books on 020 8986 5488.
- Nicholas Boys Smith is a professional strategist and former Conservative front bench adviser. He is currently secretary to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Commission on Tax Reform.
- Demos is the think tank for everyday democracy. It has a long-held interest in the role that political parties can play in democratic renewal.