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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Youths get Tory birthday message
Young people
Will a "welcome pack" make 18-year-olds vote Tory?
Every teenager in Britain is to receive a birthday message from the Conservative Party when they turn 18, it has emerged.

Each 18-year-old will be sent a voting age "welcome pack" by their local Conservative association in an attempt to recruit younger people into the party.

Charles Hendry, the Tory youth spokesman, dreamt up the idea after country-wide consultation with youth organisations and tapping into focus groups at Conservative Central Office, according to The Times.

He said the party had a lot to offer young people.

Tory youth spokesman Charles Hendry
Charles Hendry: Wants to "make contact" with youths
Mr Hendry told the newspaper: "We want to make contact with young people in a way we never have before.

"Eight to nine million people under 30 have no political allegiance and they are very often living in seats which are the prime target for us.

"But we can only win them over when we have listened to young people and heard their views."

E-mail offensive

The birthday card idea follows news of a Tory campaign blitz in universities in an effort to capture the support of a new generation of middle-class voters.

Shadow cabinet ministers will tour freshers' fairs at student campuses when the university year starts this autumn.

In another project, monthly e-mail questionnaires are being sent to 4,000 youth organisations to gauge their views on key policy areas.

The average age of Tory party members is thought to be over 60, with only 10,000 members under 30.

Wider problem

Polling experts have suggested the Conservatives slipped into third place at last year's general election among voters aged between 25 and 34.

Attracting the attention of young people is a problem being faced by UK politicians more generally.

With the problem being blamed for the low turnout at last year's general election, all parties are trying to reconnect with the nation's youth.

Last month, The Electoral Commission released a report on how to get youths more involved in political life, which included the possibility of lowering the voting age to 16.

See also:

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