Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives may yet find electoral salvation in the “shy capitalist” millennial generation, according to a new report.
A new study from centre-right think tank Onward, after a survey of 8,000 people across Great Britain, suggests millennials – those aged between 25 and 40 – have a dim view of the Government.
“Millennials are the first demographic cohort not to become more right wing as they age,” the report claims.
That is down to a lack of home ownership, less stable employment and starting families later, it says.
Sebastian Payne, Onward director and one of the study’s authors, said: “Millennials are not becoming more right wing as they age, which is a serious long-term problem for the Conservatives.
“More home ownership and better jobs are critical to winning back their support but so too are taxes.
“They are ‘shy capitalists’ who prefer lower taxes instead of the Government redistributing their income.
“Combined with their more positive attitudes towards Rishi Sunak, there is hope yet that millennials can be won back over.
“But they need optimism and hope for the future.”
According to the study, 21% of millennials would back the Conservatives at a general election tomorrow, while 31% see the party as “dishonest”.
But the data suggests Mr Sunak is more popular than his party, with the Prime Minister 25 points better-liked among voters in their 30s than the Tories more generally – something the report labels the “Sunak effect”.
The authors say the key role the generation will play at the next election, with millennials currently making up 26% of the electorate and constituting the largest generation in 51% of parliamentary constituencies.
The hope for the party, the report suggests, is understanding and not ignoring millennials’ priorities.
“When asked whether governments generally should prioritise equality or growth, this cohort prefers equality – as do Generation Z.
It concludes: “The Conservative Party’s brand is particularly tarnished among 25-40 year-olds. Repairing it will require a focus on perception and policy.
“All political parties have to make choices about what electoral coalition is the most viable and millennials might not be a core part of the Tories’ base now, but they will be in the future.”
Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, said winning back millennials is “existential” for the Conservatives.
Writing in the report’s foreword, he said: “It is not just because, as somebody born in 1986, I feel a personal stake in securing the support of my own generation.
“It is because younger people support the positive, pro-work, pro-aspiration, pro-housing Conservative values that I believe represent my party at its best.
“Harold Macmillan built homes for the 1960s generation. Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson cut taxes on the aspirational and hard working. David Cameron ensured the party was both pro-environment and pro–business.”