Looking through the Conservative Party Conference listings, it seems to have finally clicked for the Tories that they need to appeal to young voters, with packed events such as:
- A tale of two generations – can the Conservatives inspire the young and keep winning among older voters?
- How to attract younger voters
- The millennial manifesto: policies to win over young voters
But, having realised the problem, what steps can they take to solve it?
1) Build a brand that speaks to people in an authentic way
Authenticity is key to connecting with younger voters (see Jeremy Corbyn). On one panel, Former Universities Minister David Willets noted that doesn’t mean trying to be cool – the Tories shouldn’t be dad dancing, but finding leaders that are honest and genuine in their intentions (here we could note the difference between Boris Johnson’s popularity in his early years as mayor, when his gaffes gave the impression of being genuine, and his unpopularity with younger audiences since his role in the Brexit campaign, where he seemed to be motivated by self-interest).
2) Understand what issues young people truly care about
The Tories need to get to grips with what younger voters actually care about, not what they think they do. The recent Help-to-Buy announcement suggests they don’t – for many young people, buying a house, even with help, is a distant thought, but renting is a reality (see Corbyn’s rival housing announcement on rental controls).
3) Be where young people are
Appealing to young people requires reaching them. This isn’t as straightforward as simply being on social media, it means being on the specific social media platforms young people use – and that isn’t the political circle’s fave, Twitter, but channels such as Instagram and Snapchat (see Corbyn), and adapting tone and style to match.
4) Demonstrate the motive behind being a Tory
The Conservative Party needs to battle with the perception that it is out to better its members and their friends, rather than being motivated by making society better as a whole (see Corbyn). This means making the argument for why their policies are simply different means to the same end goal of everyone having a better life.