Everyone at Conservative conference is talking about young people, but that's not enough to turn them Tory 2 months ago

Everyone at Conservative conference is talking about young people, but that's not enough to turn them Tory

I mean, have you seen Liz Truss' Instagram guys? Guys?

Conservative voters are dying. It's inevitable, really. But that's what happens to old people. Call it demographic change if it makes you feel better.

Still, they are dying. For all the talk of appealing to young voters, Instagram and creating opportunity for the next generation, the Conservative party is perched on the edge of a graveyard because it is not replacing a diminishing stock with young blood.

Support for the Tories among people aged 18-24 was at a record low in the 2017 election - 27 per cent. That percentage will not increase as long as the Conservative party positions itself as capitalist because of one simple maxim. Why support a capitalist system if you have no realistic chance of accruing capital?

Traditionally, throughout British electoral behaviour, women lean toward the Tories, which makes for another damning stat: 73 per cent of female voters under 25 voted Labour.

On the conference stage today chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond warned: "If we look for one moment like the party of 'no change,' then we should not be surprised that some will be tempted by the dangerous populism of our opponents."

He opened the same speech with a gag about Liz Truss' use of Instagram. This week there are two fringe events about how the party can entice younger voters. But for all the talk there is no action.


Wage stagnation means living standards are at an historic low. In 1960 the average age of a first time buyer was a 23-year-old who needed £595, the equivalent of a modern day £12,738. Now most first time buyers are 30, or older, and need a spare £20,622.

Fixing the housing crisis might be a good start for the Conservatives, then, but in reality they may need to overhaul their discourse and general justification for existence. Particularly as control of the party is relinquished further and further to its jingoistic splinter.

Rachel Sylvester, who spoke at both of the previously mentioned fringe meetings, explained how voters used to be separated by class but now a generational divide focused on values is much more relevant. "Young people are completely turned off by the Tory party," she says. "And by it becoming increasingly shrill on immigration, on international relations and on the EU. The Tory party is now seen as the party of Brexit."

25-year-old Sam Demitriu is the head of research at the Adam Smith Institute and is also heavily involved in the conference's fringe events. He told me: "There’s a tendency to be overly simplistic. Young people don’t just want an extra rail card."

"The best way the Conservatives can reach younger voters is painting a vision. Optimistic and positive about the future, comfortable with quite a liberal, tolerant society. The association with anti-immigration has hurt the Conservatives with young people."

On Wednesday Theresa May's keynote speech to the conference floor is titled 'Campaign 2022.' No one here in Birmingham believes she will be the leader of the party at that point, although they certainly hope it's the date of the next election. But in four years' time the party's voters will have thinned by the million. If the Tories want to be competitive in a general election, whenever it may be, they need to change, fast.