Popular opinion among political types is that “you’re more likely to find a red squirrel than a young Tory in London these days”, says Imogen Sinclair in The New Statesman. Writing in the FT, data whizz John Burn-Murdoch suggests millennials – those between 25 and 40 – are the “least conservative” generation in recorded British history. Critics and supporters of the Tories alike talk of the “extinction” of the party, beginning at the next election. “I wouldn’t be so sure.” Those forecasting the Conservatives’ demise ignore that first-time voters – those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s – are nowhere near as left-wing as millennials.
Young people aren’t enticed by the “classical liberal orthodoxy” of the 1990s and 2010s. Their economics isn’t the free market kind, but “Tory in the Disraelian sense”: preferring domestic production to imports, and prioritising “respect for the dignity of labour”. Even more distinctive is the Gen Z attitude towards cultural questions. They avoid casual sex; some go to church; many find the “messy millennial approach” to life and love “cringeworthy”. Plenty of youngsters long for marriage and “parochial life”, and think that the state should support families and encourage them to stay together, with as many babies as they can afford. If Tory doom-mongers took a step back, they’d see that chasing millennials is a pointless exercise. “Rather than disappearing, like paganism did as Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, conservatism may find itself rejuvenated by Generation Z.”