Labour cannot mathematically win the next election by only appealing to young people who have not voted before, a new analysis suggests.
Researchers at the think-tank Demos modelled the electorate to see how election results would change if there was a dramatic increase in turnout amongst 18-34 year olds.
They found that even if 100 per cent of registered young people turned out to vote and all those who had previously not voted supported Labour, the party would still struggle to govern.
“A youth engagement strategy can theoretically get Labour to a majority. If every single eligible young person turned out to vote, and every single additional young voter Labour, they would have their majority. By one seat,” researcher Charlie Cadywould said.
“That’s the best possible outcome of a youth-focused Labour electoral strategy, and while it’s a mathematical possibility, it’s simply not going to happen.”
Youth turnout at the last election was estimated to be 43 per cent for 18-24 year olds and 54 per cent for 24-34 year olds compared to 66 per cent overall.
Jeremy Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet includes a newly created minister for Young People and Electoral Registration, a strong indication that attempting to motivate the youth vote will form a key part of Labour’s strategy in the coming years.
Policies like scrapping tuition fees and a focus on the housing crisis are also likely to appeal to young people above others.
The authors of the study said it was “surprising how just how little impact these voters make” and explained that it was because around half of these 5m new votes would be cast in seats already held by Labour.
Britain’s archaic first past the post electoral system means that only votes cast in marginal seats are likely to affect the final result of a general election.
The authors of the study say Labour must appeal to young voters from existing parties to win over more seats, as well as voters from other age groups. They cite the SNP, Ukip and Conservative voters as a potential source of marginal votes.
"It does not necessarily follow that the way to do so is to move to the right, or that Labour could never win on a leftist platform," the authors add.
"It may be true, as some claim, that moving closer to your rivals, and accepting the premises of their criticisms of your platform, may not encourage people to vote for you."
The new analysis only looks at registered voters and a registration drive could in theory produce different results by expanding the electorate.
The full analysis is set to be published in the think-tank’s Demos Quarterly journal later this week.Reuse content