By Joe Harker
The Tories have a problem, or make that two. Look at their current polling and you'll see that among some surveys they have dropped up to 10 per cent in the past month. Meanwhile, there aren't exactly many young voters growing up and pinning blue ribbons on their chest.
As is the case in a first past the post system the main parties have to be a "broad church" to have a chance of winning. Being too focused on one particular position will turn away many voters, some of whom will thereafter feel more comfortable in another party.
Struggling over Brexit and finding it difficult to attract younger voters, The Sunday Times wonders whether the Conservatives have a death wish considering the way they are ignoring serious splits within their party.
Writing in The Spectator, James Kanagasooriam argues that the Conservatives are turning entire swathes of young voters and the generations that will soon be eligible to vote away for eight reasons.
First is that the younger generations in the UK are more ethnically diverse than the old, and ethnic minorities are not particularly favourable towards the Tories. Second is the expansion of higher education, Kanagasooriam cites data explaining that the more educated a voter is the less likely they are to vote Conservative. He writes that higher education changes a young person's outlook on life, altering their views on domestic politics and Brexit.
The increase in young people moving to cities is his third cause for Tory concern, writing that small towns that make up the core of Conservative support provide little to no opportunities for young people whereas the left leaning cities attract them.
Fourth and biggest of Kanagasooriam's reasons is the decline in home ownership among young people. He argues that looking at average house price vs income in each constituency can tell you a lot about the Tories' chances in that seat, the bigger the gap the less likely home ownership becomes and the worse the Tories do.
Fifth is the long term effects of tuition fee rises, for which the Liberal Democrats suffered greatly during the coalition. The long term effect turned up to 25 per cent of the electorate, mostly young people, away from party loyalty and were hoovered up by Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago.
Sixth is the long term effects of the 2008 financial crash, changing people's views on how the economy should work and driving more people into supporting Corbyn's policies. Kanagasooriam argues that past generations had the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Winter of Discontent as their defining event, current generations have the financial crash.
Brexit is the seventh problem. A majority of young people oppose Brexit and the Tories are increasingly becoming the party of Brexit. While Labour has their own problems in this regard it is the Conservatives who are taking most of the blame, some voters might never forgive the party for it.
Finally, the party suffers from appalling optics by so often appearing on the wrong side of ethical positions. Younger voters have a clear idea of what is right and wrong, so hearing that Tory MP Christopher Chope blocked bills that would fight upskirting and female genital mutilation makes them believe the Tories are bad people ethically.
The Counter Claim:
Even if they enact their plan to win back younger voters the Tories are still having to deal with the backlash from Brexit. Having failed to leave on the long advertised exit date of March 29, the UK was then scheduled to leave on April 12 without a deal or May 22 with one. No deal has been agreed but the UK has been granted an Article 50 extension until October 31.
This is harming the Conservatives in the polls, with the party predicted to lose 60 seats and the reins of government in the event of a general election. The failure to deliver Brexit on time is one of the main reasons voters are turning away.
Many Conservative voters are pro-Brexit and feel let down by the government's inability to leave the EU on the timetable they repeatedly championed. Theresa May repeatedly insisted her government was aiming to leave on March 29 and they have not managed to do that.
Martin Baxter, founder of Electoral Calculus, argued that the large numbers of voters either abandoning or doubting the Tories explained why David Cameron held the referendum in the first place. Suggesting the referendum wasn't held to satisfy Tory MPs but to stop the flow of anti-EU voters from supporting UKIP.
If the decision to hold a referendum stopped the flow and the result reversed it, effectively eliminating UKIP's raison d'être, the failure to implement what Leave voters wanted has resumed it. There are enough voters in the UK for whom leaving the EU is more important than which party forms a government, they backed the Tories when it looked like they were the party delivering Brexit but delays have once again lost them.
Current polling for the Conservatives makes for horrific reading, they are dropping far below Labour as voters join UKIP and Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party. A new Opinium poll has Tory support dropping to 29 per cent, not quite as bad as the 23 per cent low in 2013 but still terrible for a government that needs to unite the country and face the biggest post World War Two crisis since the Suez Canal.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Tories are polling so badly as to be compared to Sir John Major's party in 1997 where they were crushed by Tony Blair's Labour.
If Brexit is causing voters to abandon the party and their current stance on a range of issues is making new generations view the Tories with suspicion and distrust then the party is in serious trouble. Losing voters and failing to replenish them from elsewhere is the grim reaper looming over the future of the party.