Tory minister: Dying supporters could leave party unelectable in ten years
The Conservative party could see its support base die off unless it finds a way to appeal to younger voters, a minister warned today.
Philip Lee said the party could lose so much of its voter base within ten years through "natural wastage” it may never be elected again.
It follows a similar warning from Tory grandee Michael Heseltine, who said in June that Conservative voters were dying at a rate of about 2% a year.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also made a similar comment last weekend when he argued Brexit supporters were dying out and that a new EU referendum could produce a different result.
The Conservatives have been grappling with the question of how to appeal to a younger audience after the under-40s flocked to Labour at the general election in June.
Justice Minister Mr Lee said the need to get younger people on board was “hugely important” and was the party's primary challenge.
“Nick Clegg made some headlines recently for saying that Brexit wouldn’t have happened because of natural wastage now,” he told a fringe event at the Tory conference in Manchester.
“Rather unpalatable, but I wonder actually, in ten year’s time, because of natural wastage, whether we’re going to be in a similar losing position.”
In June Lord Heseltine told Sky News: “One thing which is just worth having in mind, and you can't do anything about it, 2% of the older part of the electorate die every year - they are 70% Conservative.
"Another 2% come in at the young end of the electorate - they are about 70% Labour. That's about 2% change each year. There isn't that much time."
Elsewhere at the event today, Mr Lee said people under 44 might see the welfare state as a “Ponzi scheme” whereby they pay all their lives but get little at the end.