Britain’s Conservative Youth

In the U.S., the Republican Party has an ageing base and is struggling to connect with young voters. I was therefore surprised to learn that in the United Kingdom, support for conservatives goes in the opposite generational direction.

Writing in The Guardian’s indispensible G2 supplement, John Harris notes that:

One recent YouGov poll put support for the Tories among the 18-24s at 31%, with Labour trailing at 27%. By way of a contrast, Tory support among those aged 40-59 was at 29%, with Labour on 40%. In other words, the time-worn wisdom about politics and the young may be in the process of being turned on its head. Welcome, then, to yet another element of the New Normal, and a sobering fact: when it comes to questions about the welfare state, work and the like, the younger you are, the more rightwing you’re likely to be.

I hope other journalists will dig further into why Britain’s Generation Y is more conservative than their parents. I suspect part of it may be that Thatcher-hatred, which still drives Britons of a certain age away from the Tories, is not something to which young adults relate because the 1980s are ancient history in their minds.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.