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EDITIONS
Friday, 9 August, 2002, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Tories plan e-mail charm offensive
Electronic voting trial in practice
New voting methods are one way to reconnect with youth
E-mail questionnaires are to be at the centre of a new Conservative drive to connect with young people.

The Tories say they are setting up one of the biggest ever political focus groups as they try to gauge youth groups' views as part of their policy rethink.


We want to ensure that organisations working with young people have every opportunity to give their ideas and expertise

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

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

In an attempt to counter the apparent age barrier, the party has launched a new scheme to get the views of 4,000 youth organisations on key policy issues.

Viewpoint

Every month an e-mail questionnaire will be sent to bodies like the Scouts, Barnardos or local youth groups.

The questions will try to get the youth viewpoint on debates like issues like drugs policy and youth crime.

Conservative officials say the scheme, launched on Friday, promises to establish one of the largest email databases for a specific group that has been established by any Party.

"It includes national, regional and local organisations and will continue to be expanded over the coming months," said a spokeswoman.

Expertise

Charles Hendry, the party's spokesman for young people, is taking charge of the project.

Mr Hendry said: "This is evidence of our determination to bring as many people and organisations as possible into our policy development process.

"We want to ensure that organisations working with young people are aware of what is happening in Westminster on the issues that affect them and also to offer them every opportunity to give their ideas and expertise.

"We are not bringing these organisations into Party politics, but rather seeking to make use of their expertise and understanding to ensure that we are developing policies which are both relevant and practical."

Policy rethink

As they try to revive their political fortunes, the Conservatives have so far produced no detailed policies.

The first signs of the party's platform for the next election are, however, expected to be revealed at its annual conference in October.

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

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

See also:

01 Aug 02 | Politics
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