Onward research: Generation Why?

2020-03-24T13:16:55+00:00 April 8th, 2019|Helping younger generations to thrive, Onward, Research|

On Monday 8 April, we publish Generation Why?, Onward’s landmark report into generational voting patterns, policy priorities and political values.

The report considers why age has become the key dividing line in British politics, what has happened since the last general election, and what we can do to win over millions of younger people deserting the centre right in considerable numbers.

It is the result of a detailed 10,000 sample poll, conducted by Hanbury Strategy, and the largest study of the generation gap since age became the key political dividing line in British politics.

The report takes as its starting point the extraordinary age gap that emerged in 2017.

Younger and older voters have always been politically different, but never by this much

In 2017, the gap between younger and older voters was 50 points larger than the post-war average since 1945 and five times higher than 2010. But it started in 2015, before both Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

We reveal today that this gap has grown, not narrowed, since the last General Election.

In 2017, “the tipping point age” – the median age at which a voter is more likely to vote Conservative than Labour – was 47 years old. We establish that since the election “the tipping point” has risen by 4 years to 51 years old.  

The Conservative age curve is getting steeper. 14% of 18-24 year olds would vote Conservative now, versus 62% for Labour. Among over-65s, 56% would vote Conservative versus 24% for Labour.

However, this is largely down to the Conservatives’ failure to win over younger voters. 28% of under-35s would consider voting Conservative, but fewer than 17% say they would do so if an election were held today.

This amounts to 3 million voters young Conservative considerers which could be won over but currently would not vote for the party. 

This is a considerable opportunity for the Conservatives – and reinforces Onward’s mission to renew the centre right for the next generation by generating fresh modernising ideas and reaching out to new groups of people. In the report, we explore young people’s political attitudes, their values and their views around specific policy issues in great detail.

On the back of the analysis, we are setting out a Ten-Point Plan to rejuvenate the centre right and build a mainstream coalition of voters from both older and younger generations.

  • Keep taxes low. Every generation favours low taxes over more spending. 18-24s are most in favour (63%) of keeping more of their own money.
  • Balance the public finances. People of all ages, including 58% of 18-24s, wants government to live within its means.
  • Make the economy fairer, not just bigger. Nearly two thirds of people favour “reducing the gap between rich and poor” over “working to create faster economic growth”, with 18-24s most in favour (67%).
  • Punish companies that do not act responsibly.  Two thirds of people across all ages favour “tackling companies that behave badly” over “helping companies in the private sector to succeed”.
  • Control immigration. There is net support for reducing immigration in every age bracket, within every ethnic group, and among Remain voters.
  • Protect the environment, including the green belt. The environment is the third top issue for 18-24 year old voters and younger voters. All ages, including 18-24s favour protecting the green belt.
  • Defend freedom of expression but promote a sense of belonging. All ages favour free speech, gay marriage and (aside from over 65s) transgender rights. Every group thinks community is in decline.
  • Prioritise apprenticeships and retraining over university. 44% of people think too many people go to university, vs. 25% who say not enough. All ages support retraining and apprenticeships.
  • Give women more reason to be positive. 8% of 18-24 year old women would vote Conservative today, which correlates heavily with pessimism: 56% of women think the next generation will be worse off than their own.
  • Do more to win over ethnic minorities. Asian voters (42%) are nearly as likely to consider voting Conservative as White voters (44%), but only half as many would do so today. This is a big opportunity.

On Sunday 7 April, the report was backed by a number of senior Ministers and MPs, including the Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary; Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary; Michael Gove, the Environment Secreraty; Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary; Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary; and Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary.

On Monday 8 April, 42 Conservative MPs from the 2015 and 2017 intakes issued a united call on the back of the report for the Conservative Party to broaden its reach ahead of the next general election. They said:

“We are from the 2017 and 2015 intakes.

“New polling for Onward shows that there are three million young people who say they would consider voting Conservative – but are not currently planning to. The party needs to reach out to these missing millions.

“The next Conservative manifesto must have strong policies to help young people get on in life. It must reach out to all parts of the country and all communities too. The Conservative party is at its best when it is a party for the whole nation.”

The full list of new intake MPs is as follows:

Bim Afolami, Ben Bradley, Suella Braverman, Jack Brereton, Alex Burghart, Alex Chalk, Colin Clark, Simon Clark, Robert Courts, Leo Docherty, Steve Double, Vicky Ford, Luke Graham, Bill Grant, Kirstene Hair, Trudy Harrison, Simon Hoare, Eddie Hughes, Caroline Johnson, Gillian Keegan, Stephen Kerr, John Lamont, Rachel Maclean, Scott Mann, Paul Masterton, Johnny Mercer, Huw Merriman, Damian Moore, Neil O’Brien, Rebecca Pow, Victoria Prentis, Tom Pursglove, Douglas Ross, Bob Seely, Derek Thomas, Tom Tugendhat, Matt Warman, Giles Watling, Mike Wood.

For media inquiries, contact Will Tanner at [email protected]