LONDON — Millennials who quietly love capitalism could help Rishi Sunak bag a surprise win in the next U.K. general election — even though they’ve got little love for his Conservative Party.
A new report from center-right think tank Onward — whose former director Will Tanner is now Sunak’s Downing Street’s deputy chief of staff — suggests that while millennials take a dim view of the Conservative government, they are more favorable towards the prime minister himself.
Onward’s report shows that just 21 percent of millennials — generally defined as people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s — would vote Conservative in a general election tomorrow. Some 31 percent think the Tories are “dishonest,” while 24 percent reckon they’re “incompetent” and “out of touch.”
In a blow to the party’s hopes of seeing off a Labour victory in a general election expected next year, 62 percent of the 8,000 millennials polled by Onward say they believe “the Conservatives deserve to lose the next election.” By contrast, 45 percent said they would vote for Labour.
But Sunak himself polls far better than his party among the cohort, some 46 percent of whom have a favorable view of the PM.
“There is a clear ‘Sunak effect’ among voters in their 30s, where the prime minister polls much better than the Conservative Party,” the report reads.
The report finds that while millennials lean center-left in their political views, prioritizing equality over economic growth, they “prefer keeping more of their own money over more redistribution.” They are, Onward’s research finds, “more likely to view businesses as providing opportunities than being exploitative,” and more right-wing than average on economic policy questions.
This, the think tank argues, gives Sunak’s party a slim opening.
“Millennials are not becoming more right-wing as they age, which is a serious long-term problem for the Conservatives,” Onward director Sebastian Payne, a former Financial Times journalist, said. “They are ‘shy capitalists’ who prefer lower taxes instead of the government redistributing their income. Combined with their more positive attitudes towards Rishi Sunak, there is hope yet that millennials can be won back over.”
Onward is calling for more effort on the part of the Tories to increase home ownership and childcare provision, as well as tapping into a desire for lower taxes. Its research finds that housing and taxation are top-five issues for the group.