Tory focus on the grey vote is a FOOLS' move and Sunak DESERVES to lose - Bella Wallersteiner

Rishi Sunak with voters ahead of Election 2024

Rishi Sunak has focused his campaign on older voters

Bella Wallersteiner

By Bella Wallersteiner

Published: 04/06/2024

- 14:25

Updated: 04/06/2024

- 16:29

Bella Wallersteiner is a social media influencer and political commentator

As a young Conservative party member, it is with great frustration that I observe the current trajectory of our party. The Conservative Party, once a bastion of opportunity and progress, now faces an existential threat due to its alarming abandonment of young people. This detachment is not merely a political miscalculation; it is a betrayal of the very principles that have historically underpinned our movement.

Polls are everywhere during election campaigns, but a recent YouGov poll starkly set out the scale of the challenge for the Conservative Party. It found that among the under-50s, 59 percent plan to back Labour, with the Greens in second at 12 percent, while the Tories are tied with Reform at a mere eight percent. This glaring statistic highlights the Conservatives' dire situation: they are bleeding support among young people.

The party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has blatantly ignored the needs and aspirations of younger generations. The recent policy announcements—a £2.4 billion tax cut for retirees and a bizarre national service proposal for 18-year-olds—are nothing more than desperate attempts to secure the votes of older demographics. These moves do nothing for the younger generations who are struggling with real, tangible issues like housing affordability, student debt, and economic insecurity.

The government's focus on the grey vote not only highlights their desperation but also underscores their disregard for the future of the party and the country. The party has become a caricature of its former self, more interested in clinging to power through short-term gimmicks than in offering real, substantive policies that address the needs of the nation.

One of the most glaring failures of our party has been in addressing the housing crisis which has received almost no attention during this election campaign. Homeownership, a cornerstone of Conservative ideology, has become an unattainable dream for too many young Britons. The statistics are damning: the share of 25-to-34-year-olds who own their own home has plummeted by 22 percentage points since 1990. This stark decline is not seen in other developed countries, highlighting a uniquely British failure.

Our party’s reluctance to engage in serious planning reform and tackle the broken housing market head-on is a grave error. The abandonment of major planning reforms during Robert Jenrick's tenure as Housing Secretary represents a colossal missed opportunity. Young people are desperate for affordable housing, yet the party remains mired in outdated policies and NIMBYism. Without bold action to increase housing supply and abolish feudal systems like leasehold, we will continue to alienate an entire generation.

In addition to housing, young Conservatives are disillusioned by the party's handling of economic policies. The Conservative Party’s traditional appeal has always been its commitment to low taxes and economic growth. However, recent tax rises have undermined this promise, leaving young people to shoulder an increasingly heavy burden.

Young Britons today are trapped in a vicious cycle of stagnant wages and rising living costs. The promise of upward social mobility, once a given for our parents' generation, now seems like a cruel joke. If the Conservative Party genuinely believes in rewarding hard work and entrepreneurship, it must reduce the tax burden on young people and create an environment where they can thrive economically.

Whilst neither of the main parties are willing to talk about the elephant in the room, there is no doubting that Brexit has exacerbated the cultural and economic misalignment between young Britons and the Conservative Party. Indeed, a lot of this disillusionment with the Conservative Party can be traced back to Brexit. Promising a utopia of sovereignty and economic freedom, Brexit has delivered the opposite for many young people.

The freedom to travel, work, and study across Europe has been severely curtailed. Opportunities that were once taken for granted have vanished, replaced by red tape and uncertainty. A recent Focaldata survey reveals that young people’s values and economic beliefs are almost diametrically opposed to those of the party’s core voters.

This deep-seated brand damage means that even young people who might otherwise align with Conservative principles are turning away in droves.

We must acknowledge this rift and work tirelessly to bridge it after July 4th. I say after July 4th as I am under no illusion that we can win another term in government. The party needs to rebuild from the ground up and embrace a more modern and forward-looking agenda, one that resonates with the values held by many young voters.

This does not mean abandoning our founding principles but rather reinterpreting them in a way that appeals to the next generation.

As Robert Jenrick has recently pointed out, there are lessons to be learned from our conservative counterparts in Europe and North America.

The Conservative Party of Canada, for instance, has successfully courted young voters by focusing on housing affordability, economic opportunity, and a unifying national vision. We should follow their example, emphasizing policies that provide tangible benefits to young people and inspire them to believe in a brighter future.

The Conservative Party's neglect of young people is not just a political miscalculation; it is a strategic blunder that could have long-term consequences. Research shows that political affiliations often get locked in during early adulthood.

By alienating young voters now, the Conservatives risk losing an entire generation of potential supporters.

Moreover, the party's current strategy of focusing solely on older voters is unsustainable. As demographics shift, the reliance on the baby boomer base will become increasingly untenable. We must prioritize housing reform, reduce the tax burden on young people, and realign our values to resonate with the next generation.

This is not just a political necessity but a moral imperative. The future of the Conservative Party—and indeed, the future of our country—depends on our ability to inspire and uplift young Britons.

We stand on the brink of a generational wipeout. It is time to act decisively, to reject the fatalistic attitude that has gripped our party, and to once again become the party of opportunity and progress. Only then can we deserve to win the trust and support of young people in the next election.

I joined the Conservative Party in 2015 with high hopes and a sense of optimism. Here was a party that had championed gay marriage, a landmark move that signalled its commitment to equality and tolerant values.

The Conservatives were also the party of aspiration, promising a society where hard work and ambition were rewarded, where young people could climb the ladder of success and secure a better future.

Fast forward to today, and I am profoundly disappointed by the scale of the party's betrayal of young people. This betrayal is why the Conservatives deserve to lose the upcoming election.

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