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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism and home of conservative modernisers, and Opinium have today published analysis of polling providing a snapshot of the attitudes of young adults towards public policy, political philosophy, the Conservative Party and the state of Britain.

Tomorrow (Monday 8th July, 2019), Bright Blue is hosting a conference entitled Fixing the future, exploring how to better support young adults in six key areas affecting them: living, learning, earning, thinking, conserving and relating. The conference includes a keynote speech from the Education Secretary, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP.

Bright Blue and Opinium’s polling shows:

  • Making housing more affordable is the one policy that young adults think would help them most today, with a majority (55%) of 18-34 year olds reporting this policy would help them most. This is followed by improving mental healthcare provision, which 40% of 18-34 year olds reported as being among the top three policies to help them most. These responses are more commonly reported among young adults than staying in or leaving the EU.
  • However, the wider population (36%) and young adults (24%) are most likely to think that the UK Government should prioritise ‘resolving Brexit’ above everything else, including ‘reducing poverty’, ‘Building more houses’ and ‘Tackling climate change’
  • A majority of the UK adults generally (59%) and young adults in particular (53%) report that the best description of Britain today is ‘divided’, followed by ‘unequal’ and ‘struggling.’
  • Our politicians are seen as the worst thing about Britain by both UK adults generally (28%) and young adults (22%). This ranks higher than ‘the crime levels’, ‘inequality’ and ‘the cost of living.’
  • The NHS is seen as the best thing about Britain by both UK adults generally (36%) and young adults (31%). In fact, those who voted Conservative in the last General Election (24%) also are most likely to report the ‘the NHS’ as the best thing about Britain than anything else.
  • The whole adult population UK adults more generally and young adults specifically share a similar perception of the Conservative Party, with both (37% each) believing that the best description of the Conservative Party is ‘A party for the rich’. Even those who voted Conservative in the last General Election (21%) were most likely to report that the best description of the Conservative Party is ‘A party for the rich’.
  • Young adults aged 18-34 are most likely to describe their political outlook as ‘liberal’ (25%), whereas older adults (aged 55+) are most likely to describe their political outlook as ‘conservative’ (27%). Across the whole adult population, people are most likely to describe their political outlook as ‘moderate (24%).

Commenting, Education Secretary, Damian Hinds MP, said: 

 “Brexit is the immediate imperative but we shouldn’t let it define our generation.”

“Conservatives in Government since 2010 have seen more people in work than ever before, cut income tax for hardworking people, introduced the National Living Wage, reformed welfare, invested in the NHS, improved educational outcomes, and been a world leader in action on climate change. We have a record to be proud of and we need to get out there and sell it.

“Family, Nation, Enterprise, Opportunity – this is what we are about. Conservatives need to keep bringing those four words to life, to connect with people right across our society, from old to young.”

Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse, Director at Bright Blue, says:

“Sadly, young adults today are somewhat gloomy about the state of Britain. They are most likely to believe it is divided and that politicians are the worst thing about this country.”

“Although they are most likely to report that the Government should prioritise resolving Brexit, an overwhelming majority of young adults believe that the policy that would help them most is making the cost of housing more affordable.”

“Young adults are a generation that are most likely to regard themselves as liberal and believe that the best thing about Britain is the NHS. The Conservative Party has a long way to go in appealing to young adults and ridding itself of a common perception that it is a party for the rich.”

Commenting, James Crouch, research manager at Opinium, says:

“Young people are struggling to engage positively with politics as it currently stands. Despite wide agreement about the type of policies that would benefit them, in particular making housing more affordable, there is also a resigned feeling that Brexit needs to be resolved and prioritised above everything else.”

“Ultimately, it appears the only way to respond to the concerns of the younger generation is to get back to talking about the day-to-day changes that could improve their lives, in spite of the bandwidth that Brexit takes up.”