The Future of UK Politics: How Gen Z and Millennials Are Changing the Landscape

The Future of UK Politics: How Gen Z and Millennials Are Changing the Landscape

Over the last 15 years, British society has been in what feels like a constant state of political flux. The conventional wisdom that has governed politics in the UK since 1945 has been completely upended by the surprising strength of insurgent political movements on both the left and the right wings of the political spectrum. In a country where class was once considered the basis of all political analysis, age has rapidly emerged as the primary social cleavage that can indicate an individual’s political outlook. 

The Rise of Millennials: Shaping the Future of British Democracy

As this divide has hardened within British politics, it is undeniable that the last 10 years can be characterised by the domination of ‘Boomer’ political projects. The success of the Brexit movement in 2016 and the subsequent crushing of the Corbyn movement in 2019 have undeniably produced a sense of alienation for many younger voters. The failure of centre-left/left politics to ultimately succeed in the electoral arena has driven both major parties to shift rightwards, ignoring the significantly more liberal and left-wing positions held by the majority of younger voters.

This reflects a significant miscalculation on the part of both the Conservative and the Labour Party. Many Tory insiders are already raising the alarm that Millennials are appearing to buck the trend of growing more conservative as they age, suggesting a potentially existential threat for the party in the coming years.


Moreover, while Labour appears to be standing on much more solid ground than their opponents, there is a definite risk that their attempts to win over older voters with more socially and fiscally conservative policies could have the unintended effect of alienating younger voters who have made up an increasing proportion of the party’s base over the last 10 years.

The decision to tack right on a number of issues, including immigration, austerity and foreign policy (particularly the ongoing genocide in Gaza), has been made under the assumption that younger voters have “nowhere else to go”. So far, this gamble has largely paid off, as they enjoy some of the highest polling leads seen in a generation and are all but guaranteed a strong majority in the next election.

However, it must be considered that by tanking credibility with its base to appease swing voters, Labour has opened itself up to a potential vulnerability in its electoral coalition. When they are faced with the challenges that government brings, a number of the newly converted swing voters will likely return to their political ‘homes’ – either in the Conservative party or in Reform UK. 

Generational Divide: Assessing the Influence of Age in Contemporary UK Politics

Recent local election results may already give a limited indication of this threat as Labour underperformed in a number of their traditional heartlands associated with high student (and Muslim) populations. Green and Independent candidates espousing opposition to the war in Gaza, alongside supporting several left-leaning economic policy positions, garnered significant support in places like Bristol and the North-East.

If a new Labour government is not able (or willing) to address the main priorities listed by younger voters, such as climate change, the inaccessible housing market and opposition to the war in Gaza, these results risk being replicated in future elections.

Millennials now make up the largest single voting bloc by age in the country, and Gen Z are only just beginning to age into voting eligibility. The British political sphere must reckon with the fact that younger voters are far less likely to be optimistic about their economic prospects and, as a result, are putting far less trust in democratic government to deliver on its promises.

If this economic pessimism holds and politicians continue to ignore the positions of younger voters on issues of conscience, such as the aforementioned war in Gaza, as well as trans rights and racial equality, long-term political alienation is likely to worsen. This could come in the form of new electoral threats from Green and Independent candidates or could equally manifest in widespread political disengagement and anger directed at the democratic system of government as a whole.


There is already evidence of a global trend of growing anti-democratic sentiment among the world’s youth. A recent study from the Open Society Foundation found that around a third of both 18-35 year-olds and 36-55 year-olds are supportive of the idea of strong leadership that does away with elections.

It is essential to also recognise that while the younger generation has continued to feel pressured by their economic conditions, there is growing evidence of a political fracture within Gen Z and Millennials along the lines of gender. Currently, the UK stands as the exception when looking at rates of political polarisation by gender compared to other countries.

Nations like the US, Germany, and South Korea have all witnessed a significant divergence between the political ideologies held by young men and women. Women favour liberal politics, while men are beginning to favour more conservative social outlooks. Britain stands out from this data as both men and women have gotten progressively more liberal over the last 10 years, though there is still a noticeable gap at the rate in which both groups have moved leftwards. 

It must be acknowledged that analysing people’s political beliefs within the boundaries of age demographics can have limitations. It does not consider other socio-economic factors such as social class, gender and ethnic background. Sociologists like Dan Evans have pointed out that constructing voting coalitions primarily on the support of a single age group will not produce a coherent and lasting political movement.

Despite this, for the moment, it seems likely that Gen Z and Millennials will continue to grow in electoral power—especially if they remain as ideologically united as they are currently. The major political parties’ ignorance of this ideological unification of Gen Z and Millennials is a dangerous misjudgment that may ultimately cost them power in the long term.


  • A Nation of Shopkeepers’ by Dan Evans